Nothing More Interview: “We Are Thankful…”

Nothing More

NMCDWith their meteoric rise over the last twelve months, and smash-hit #1 Active Rock single ‘This Is The Time (Ballast)’, Nothing More is a band finally getting the attention they’ve deserved for well over a decade.

Formed in 2003 and with 5 albums released independently under their belt, Nothing More made the leap to the big leagues last year releasing their sixth album through the major label Eleven Seven Records, a move guitarist Mark Vollelunga never thought was in the cards.

With an addictive sound; well-written, thought-provoking lyrics, and a brutal energy much needed in rock music this band is an adrenaline shot to the rock music industry in a time when it needs it the most. Their major-label debut ‘Nothing More’ has proven to be an epic hit, featuring on many 2014 ‘Best of Rock’ lists, whilst peaking at #33 on the Billboard Top 200, with the singles ‘Mr. MTV’ and ‘This Is The Time’ obtaining regular airplay and syndication on rock radio.

Perhaps it should be considered all the more refreshing that Nothing More is a band that prides itself on honesty, sincerity, and authenticity. Despite their fame, they have taken nothing for granted, and in a generation where it seems like fast food music prevails and pre-processed pop junk is flooding the airwaves, Nothing More is a group intent on using their platform to deliver messages of hope, inspiration, and honesty to anyone willing to listen.

Check out our interview with Nothing More’s guitarist Mark Vollelunga below.

AltWire [Derek Oswald]: Although Nothing More has been around for over a decade, with the runaway success of This Is The Time, there are many fans who may be getting introduced to you for the first time. For the uninitiated, come you please give us a little history about your band and how you came to be?

Mark Vollelunga [Nothing More]: Sure! We’ve been going for a while. I’ve known Jonny who is our singer (and was our drummer), for about fifteen years now. We started jamming when I was in high school, and about five years later we met our bass player Daniel and that’s when things really started getting serious and we actually started touring. We had this brilliant idea to actually start playing outside of our hometown, and for whatever reason, we hadn’t even thought of this brilliant idea before [laughs]. So we toured the region (Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas) for years and years and every once in a while we’d make it up to New York or over to LA and the coast, and just slowly started growing Nothing More. During that time we would try reaching out to labels and try partnering with people but we would always get ‘rock isn’t working now’ and things like that but then suddenly things just really picked up.

I want to say, I guess a year or a year and a half ago that we were just convinced that we weren’t going to have a label and that we were just going to set out and do it ourselves because it just didn’t seem in the cards for us. But then suddenly you learn that you need one person and then you need another and you keep finding out the right people for you to be on your team. People that mesh with your mantra and your vision. And through one person and then another we started growing and we’re very grateful and happy with everything that’s gone on this past year with ‘This Is The Time’ with how it took off on radio because we didn’t even think it was going to be a single. It exploded, it really helped us and we stood by our album, self-produced it, and really believed in it. Fortunately, Eleven Seven did as well and they’re all super happy to work over there they’re all really proud of what we’ve done and they believe in the product as much as we do.

AW: The decision to sign with Eleven Seven certainly seems to have paid off. How did it feel to have a single peak at #1 on the Active Rock chart, and to beat out big bands like Linkin Park and Rise Against?

Mark Vollelunga [Nothing More]: Just like you think it would: really awesome and really overwhelming. I think the best thing with that success is the understanding that our heroes are now our peers, which is a crazy thought. To sit and chat with Vinnie Paul or Clint Lowery, these people have been big influences on our artistry. So we’re super honored and super gracious that This Is The Time made it to #1 and like you said, also beat out other huge bands. It’s crazy!

AW: Leading up to your latest record, you self-released 5 albums independently over a 5 year period. However; with your latest record you signed to Eleven Seven Music. For some independent artists making that transition can be a difficult decision. Was it tough to make that transition to a major label?

Mark Vollelunga [Nothing More]: We didn’t think it was in the cards for us to partner with a label. So when all these labels suddenly came to us we were really overwhelmed and we decided to take it slow and not make any rash decisions and really get to know everyone. Eleven Seven was just beating down the door and they were the most passionate for us so in the end, we went with them because we believe in passion and with Allen Kovac, his track record just speaks for itself. If he believes in something or wants something he gets it done and that’s the same way we are. We won’t stop and we will be persistent and we will make it happen.

It really was the next step we needed. We could’ve continued on our slow but steady growth that we were doing on our own but everything had become too big to manage – which is a good problem to have – and we did need those proper people on our team to take it to the next level and go national or even global. That’s definitely another reason we went with Eleven Seven. They’re set up everywhere and that was part of our vision and it works well, so honestly, it was a very smooth transition. They know what they’re doing and they’re good at it!

AW: The video for ‘This Is The Time’ is excellent, but I imagine it must have been an experience filming it! Everything was soaking wet, including the instruments. What was the experience like with filming that video? Was it fun or miserable?

Mark Vollelunga [Nothing More]: You’re right it was very miserable [laughs]! It was freezing cold being in that water all the time. Also, you’re performing in front of this crew, and you kind of feel like they’re judging you even though they’re not. You’re trying to get into this proper headspace even though your instruments aren’t hooked up, and there was NO WAY they would have been because we were in that water! We had to take out all the electronics in the guitars.

But we’re super happy with the finished product. The director totally vibed with our visions, having that twist towards the bridge where it centers on that line ‘you are the jail and you are the key’ where you realize “oh I am the source of my problems and I am the answer too”. That I was never really in the water. I thought I was drowning but I really was just floating, and the hands that I thought were pulling me down were really just pulling me up. So it’s just perspective. We’re super happy that Frankie vibed with that and delivered.

AW: Many of your songs seem to have very potent social commentary, with “Christ Copyright” being a song that comes to mind specifically. From a personal standpoint, what does that song mean to you, and what message do you feel it represents?

Mark Vollelunga [Nothing More]: Christ Copyright to me is about selling religion and saying ‘this is how you get to Heaven, this is what you have to do’ and treating people like numbers. We all grew up in the church so we have that Christian background and since then we’ve matured and all of our individual views vary a little from person to person. But I think we all believe in truth and love now and that song [lyrically] is kind of sarcastic saying ‘sign on the dotted line’ and we’ve got you. Do you want your heaven? Here you go. You just have to sign right here and you get it when in the end nobody really knows. We’re all here and we’re all just trying to figure it out, and we all actually know that it’s ingrained in us that love? Man, it works.

Not trying to preach or anything like that. But I think the song is a pessimistic view, and that’s kind of the answer for the optimist, that’s in there in a way.

AW: What about with “Mr. MTV” do you feel like in many ways this generation is void of inspiration not only musically but artistically?

Mark Vollelunga [Nothing More]: I couldn’t have said it better myself, you hit the nail right on the head. We definitely feel that with big corporations like MTV and even Apple for one – and not trying to say anything against them, I’m currently talking to you on an iPhone so I’m guilty too – that we’re all a part of the problem and the song is an awakening of sorts. To tell everyone that we’re all in it and that we’re all capable of changing it. With these big corporations, we wanted to bring it to light that they are bastardizing this generation and our youth. This is what they’re growing up on, and this is what they’re told is popular is cool, is normal and that’s sad. Granted I know my parents were saying the same thing [about my generation]. So in a way we can all be scared but let’s do something about it!

AW: Something your band does on Facebook that I’ve found really powerful is your poignant messages of hope and inspiration to your fans and followers, often in the form of poetry and or literary quotes. Whose idea was it to do this?

Mark Vollelunga [Nothing More]: It wasn’t really any particular one of ours; I think it was all of us but it was more brought to life through our manager Will. In the way of ‘how can we be different?’ in posting things in a generation where so many bands are posting. They’re all trying to be funny and gain numbers and do this and do that and the thing that was working for us was honesty and having a message. So we are just going to keep doing that and make everything about substance and honestly, we’re all so happy about it because we feel GOOD and we want other people to feel good! Let’s post great things like art and poetry! It’s a way to give credit to those great minds and artists and all the above. We’re honored that we can honor others through what we do because we just write music.

AW: Branching off of that, Jonny recently posted that he was working on some ideas for the next record in his home studio before leaving for the tour. Even though your self-titled just came out last summer, do you believe the next record will be out sooner than we think?

Mark Vollelunga [Nothing More]: Hmm I don’t think so, this record still has a ton of life and the label believes so as well. So we’re really excited to just keep it going and keep promoting the self-titled album for all of 2015. Granted we’re all writers and we’ll always be working, so that way we won’t have a deadline come where we haven’t been working on anything. Little by little, we’ll all individually work on things but it might actually be some time before we get to sit in a studio or jam room and work on new material.

AW: You’ve already played two dates on your We Are Not Machines Tour and are about to embark on a truly insane and almost non-stop tour across the globe with shows almost every day for four months straight. Are you nervous about playing that many dates and how many places on this tour are brand new to you?

Mark Vollelunga [Nothing More]: Just as you were saying that I let out a big sigh [laughs], because you’re right it’s overwhelming when you look at all the dates. But it’s overwhelming just as much as it is exciting. Because we do get to travel to Tokyo and Australia and much of Europe that we’ve never seen before, which we’re all extremely excited about. A year ago I didn’t think that we would be right here where we are so we’re all totally blessed. It’s a good problem to have to look at this huge list of dates and just wonder how you’re going to make it out alive!

AW: Much has been said by your fans about your live performances, have you given any thought to making a live DVD from this tour?

Mark Vollelunga [Nothing More]: We’ve always talked about a DVD and I’m sure we will but I don’t think there’s any plan of releasing one now. We like the idea of having to go to the show to get the experience and not just sit on the couch and play it. Granted we’re in a generation where it takes five seconds to look up a live performance from your favorite or least favorite band or even a talking cat. But I’m sure we will eventually just probably not in the near future.

AW: That’s all I have, anything else you’d like to add?

MV: If you haven’t been to a show come out to a show (you included Derek!) and check our website NothingMore.net for all the dates and finally: Let love overcome!

Listen to ‘This Is The Time (Ballast)’ by Nothing More Below:

Nothing More - This Is The Time (Ballast) [Official Video]

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