The hard-rocking metal band Nothing More inspires both visceral and cerebral introspection, and it delivers its message through a giant scorpion.
Did you get that last part?
Artists, to be sure, the San Antonio-based quartet is fresh off a European tour and bound for Reno for a Monday night show in the Cargo Concert Hall, a venue large enough for the 14-foot, 400-pound contraption that looks like a predatory arachnid.
The band members collaborated on the songwriting for their new album, “The Stories We Tell Ourselves,” and on their creation called the “Scorpion Tail.” Bassist Daniel Oliver built machine out of scrap metal and motorcycle and car parts. It is engineered by drummer Ben Anderson. Guitarist Mark Vollelunga plays through it and lead singer Jonny Hawkins rides on top of it, controlling its sound and onstage movements by pulling levers and pushing buttons.
Anderson tries to explain:
“It’s like a dub step machine with a number of buttons and two levers hooked up to guitar and bass running through and amp simulator connected to the pitch control,” he said. “It’s basically just a big middy controller. Essentially the same as a keyboard that you see at a Guitar Center. Buttons are like piano notes and the levers act like a pitch wheel. It sends all that information to a computer that Jonny can control.”
Yes, the system can crash, and no, the Scorpion Tail has never crashed down upon anyone.
Nothing More took it over to Europe where some of the venues were small enough that the scorpion had to do the show prone on its belly, leaving the audience to miss out on the cool visual. Not that anyone minded.
“They definitely like to have a good time over there,” Anderson said, describing the tour. “We get on a plane for 12 hours and then drive to who knows where and there will be a bunch of people in a circle pit singing along to one of our songs. It’s pretty cool. They’re into metal music, for sure. It’s a special kind of environment over there.”
The new album, “The Stories We Tell Ourselves,” is ambitious and brilliant. And it is a bit ironic that the lone acoustic track, “Just Say When,” is the song that gets the most attention. It’s No. 18 on Billboard’s Mainstream rock chart and the video has had more than a million views.
Alan Watts, the British philosopher who in 1957 authored the first American best seller on Buddhism, can be heard speaking between the songs on “The Stories We Tell Ourselves.”
The band members all have read Watts’ books. Hawkins pored through hours of lectures by Watts to find lines that would transition to and introduce songs, putting the listener into the mind-set of what is about to occur.
The highlight of the album is the track “Let ‘Em Burn,” which is introduced by Watts: “Now then, the question arises, who’s deceiving who? Who’s fooling who? Well, you’re deceiving yourself. Everybody takes the shortcuts. Everybody plays tricks. Everybody has an element of duplicity, of deception.”
“He’s like a voice narrating the Jurassic Park ride at Disneyland,” Anderson said. “He’s like that voice on the album. He helps carry you through in a way that we want people to be carried through. They can interpret it for themselves but they are seeing it through this lens that we feel.”
Not unlike its functional scorpion sculpture, Nothing More is a metal band that’s like a piece of art that kindles torrential interpretation and will take you on a helluva ride.
— Tim Parsons
- Nothing More
The Stories We Tell Ourselves Tour
Special guests: Bad Wolves and Eyes Set to Kill
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 23
Where: Cargo Concert Hall at the Whitney Peak Hotel, Reno
For: All ages
Tickets: $20.64 to $22.94 LINK