Nautical Mile on playing pop rock in Boulder and how the band got its name

Categories: Interviews

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Elliot Ross

Nautical Mile first caught our attention back in July of 2009 , and since then has pretty much destroyed any notions people might have had about the quality of local music. With a slew of some of the most radio-friendly pop rock songs to ever come out of Colorado, Nautical Mile has not so quietly moved up in the ranks from playing midweek gigs at tiny clubs to headlining places like the Fox Theatre.

We caught up with the band in advance of its gig next Friday, August 6, at the Fox, and asked them how they developed such a fervent following in Boulder, if they mind being compared to other more well known bands and how they got their name.

Westword (Dutch Seyfarth): Boulder isn't exactly known as a town that embraces pop rock, yet Nautical Mile has cultivated a pretty solid group of fans there. What's been your recipe for getting noticed?

Justin Maul: I sure damn hope we have... The recipe is getting Boulder residents really high -- higher than they already are -- and then they'll listen to just about anything.

James Anderson: We trick "Boulder People" into liking us by pretending to be either a hip-hop, jam, or bluegrass band. Beyond that, having a professional recording to hand out at shows really helps.

Austin Rosen: We play acoustic sets like hippies on Pearl Street to promote for our big Boulder shows.

Jake Putnicki: Soliciting the shit out of friends, family and fans [laughs]. We have literally handed out thousands of CDs after shows in the Denver/Boulder areas.

Rachel Hamilton: Boobs.

Ww: Is this the first real band you've all been in, or have you been in bands before?

JM: I've been playing guitar and bass and singing in bands since I was thirteen or fourteen. The most dominant musical endeavor I was involved in prior to joining Nautical Mile was The Ghosts of Verona, in which I played bass, and was the co-lead singer for several years. I've been in a lot of female fronted bands in the past. In total I have been involved in roughly four or five bands.

AR: James and I played in a couple ska and punk bands during high school, but they were mainly pretty small and crappy (but fun).

JP: I played in a few bands during high school, and played in a couple battle of the bands competitions, but none of them amounted to much more than just jamming in basements.

RH: This is the first serious band I have played in. Before this, I sang opera and attended college for classical music.

Ww: What makes being in this band so special compared to other projects you've all been in before?

JM: There's a totally different dynamic in the relationships between the band members of Nautical Mile compared to other projects I've been involved with. So it's hard to compare this band to my past bands. We have a lot of fun together, everyone's individual personalities work well together and everyone has passion for what we're doing. As he newest member it's hard to tell how this band will eventually evolve and how the overall experience will be different from those I've had before.

JP: We are all playing with the collective goal of getting our music heard rather than just jamming.

AR: This is really the first band that made us realize that we wanted to play music as a career -- because we loved it so much. It is also really nice to play with such talented musicians.

Ww: Does being compared to other more well known bands flatter or annoy you?

JM: No, not really. Every musician draws influence from more well known artists that they enjoy, and that's often reflected in their music. Even if we were to be accused of directly copying another band, I would just look at it as feedback that aids in our writing process, not as something to get pissed about and dwell over.

RH: There is good music and there is bad music -- we want to play good music.

JA: No. However it is really easy these days to compare up and coming bands to established bands, especially with a female singer.

JP: Depends. It can be flattering at times, but to me, genres and labeling musical styles does not matter or make too much sense. Too many people spend way too much time trying to classify music when they should simply listen to it for what it is.

AR: Some people try to group music before they even listen to it.

Ww: Where does the inspiration for Nautical Mile's music and lyrics come from?

JM: I'm inspired by the musical contribution of each instrumentalist in the band, and I think that reflects in what I write for bass. Sometimes I focus the parts I write to compliment what Rachel is singing. Sometimes the part is written to follow James's or Jake's guitar riff, and a lot of the time, the bass part is written to emphasize Austin's beat. I also enjoy listening to a lot of music with female vocals such as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Gossip, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Neko case etc. I also channel bands such as The Lawrence Arms, The Weakerthans, the Faint, and the RX Bandits when writing parts for Nautical Mile.

It comes from the heart, we don't write songs to sound like other songs, we just write whatever comes to mind. The writing process for us usually begins with some kind of improv. Once we have an idea, we work on the song's structure and create a song.

RH: Some of the lyrics I write are based on real life experiences while others are more abstract. I think it is good if our fans can relate to our lyrics in at least some way. In terms of melody, I like to write melodies that are both interesting and catchy while complementing the backing instruments.

Ww: Colorado isn't exactly known for it's seas and oceans, so what's the behind the band name Nautical Mile?

JM: There aren't any oceans in Colorado?

JA: "The Nautical Mile" is actually the title of a song by Chicago punk band The Broadways. I always loved the Broadways for their successful mixing of gritty punk and catchy, melodic elements. They were also excellent lyric writers -- and still are, for that matter, as are the Lawrence Arms, the Falcon, and Sundowner -- and I really enjoyed the lyrics in this song in particular. The name Nautical Mile just seemed perfect for the kind of band we were forming.

Nautical Mile, with Novus Folium, Regret Night, and Undercover, 8 p.m. Friday, August 6, Fox Theatre, 1135 13th Street, Boulder, $7, 303-443-3399.


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