Nico Vega is currently out on the road, promoting their self-titled, debut album which was released earlier this year.
While they were driving across Texas, drummer Dan Epand took some time to chat with us about the band, life on the road, and his Muppet idol.
Q: Can you give us a quick run-down of the band’s history?
A: The band was formed about 4 years ago. Rich and Mike Pena, he was the original drummer, met Aja at an open mic, she did this little solo show at this bar in Hollywood. I think Mike was randomly there and they got together and from what I hear it was pretty fantastic energy from the start. They kicked around for about a year-and-a-half or two and I joined up.
Mike was a pretty successful movie actor so he went on to do his thing. I hopped in about three years ago. I auditioned at behest of my girlfriend at the time and I got lost driving home. It was a pretty magical experience from the start. One of those rare moments where you definitely feel like you have a connection and you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing.
Q: What about you, how did you decide you wanted to be a musician?
A: I’ve been playing, to be honest with you, since Animal from the Muppets. All I never wanted to do was play the drums. That was the thing I wanted to do until could get it together enough to get a drum set That’s how I started. He’s still my idol.
Did you ever consider any other careers?
Music’s pretty much been it the entire time. I’ve done other things, I’ve acted and I did go to college, I studied economics and political science. I was going through a real practical stage at the time. But really all it ever was was music.
Q: Which are your favorite songs to play live?
A: I would say, it’s really hard to say. We have a new song called “Jesus, Baby,” the new songs are the ones that re the most fun to play but from the record, “Beast” is always fun, “Burn, Burn” is fun.
“Beast” we kind of take out, we have this extended jam section where I kinda take the drums out and Rich and Aja get all tribal and dirty on stage. That’s fun for us.
Q: When you’re not touring, what is your day-to-day life like?
A: It’s all pretty much about the band, its’ writing and rehearing, working out videos and trying to do things that progress the band forward. We’ve been on the road nonstop for the last six months since the record came out, there hasn’t been a lot of time at home.
Q: What was the first concert you attended?
A: The first concert I went to was Bon Jovi in 1986 or ’87, I remember thinking it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen in my life and it definitely changed things forever.
Actually, wait a second, I saw Kool and the Gang at Disneyland, but that’s a vague, vague memory.
Q: If you were making a mix tape, what would be on it?
A: I really like the new Grizzly Bear record, the new Monsters of Folk record, and then Dead Weather, I’d put on some Led Zeppelin, some Beatles, maybe some Bob Marley. It’ll change everyday. I don’t really do mix tapes, I like albums, I don’t even like greatest hits records. I like full-length records. B-sides and everything.
Q: Where were you when you heard yourself on the radio for the first time?
A: In L.A., indie 103 was the indie rock L.A. station and they showed us a lot of love from early on. Unfortunately, they went all online last year which was heartbreaking for us because we really loved those guys and it was our favorite station in L.A. We miss having them, that was where it was and it was a pretty wild experience, it sounds so good over the radio.
Q: Besides your instruments, what else do you take with you on the road?
A: I always have my laptop, we film a lot on the road and I’m busy cutting stuff together for little webisodes and stuff like that, it keeps me busy during the drives. Always have a book, and then I’ve recently been bringing a little cooler with me, that way you avoid eating big hamburgers at every truck stop and you can kind of bring a little more fruit and vegetables and stay a little healthier on the road to balance all the drinking you’re doing at night.
Q: Is there anything you’ve always wanted to learn how to do?
A: I’m constantly learning, for example, editing is one of those things. That’s the great thing about being on the road is that you have time to delve into new hobbies.
You’re on a five-hour drive and you can sit there and play video games on your iPhone or you can really try and tackle different tasks.
I do a lot of listening, iTunes has these great university lectures there’s a great psychology one I’m listening to right now, reading the books you’ve always wanted to read, things you just don’t get around to at home.
Q: Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
A: It’s important to listen to the lyrics, I think Aja brings a real message to the music, there’s just a little more dimension to our band and it’s something worth taking a look into and if you haven’t seen us live, that’s an important part of the puzzle as well.
Check Nico Vega’s Myspace for more info and tour dates.