Few artists come to mind when I picture current bands with a badass rock and roll front-woman backed by equally badass male vocalists/instrumentalists quite like Nicole Boggs & The Reel. Lake Street Dive and Alabama Shakes are top-tier artists that definitely capture a similar zest, staying true to the beautiful chaos inherent to life through brutally honest lyrics and an undeniable groove. Fewer groups can bond over their shared pastime of growing up in a musical family, with the collective goal to modernize rock music for all its shameless glory.
It hasn’t been long since we last caught up with the group, but it’s no surprise that Nicole Boggs & The Reel is locked and loaded with all kinds of new, biting ways to address the elephant in the room. In other words, they never shy away from “making a mess, falling apart, and starting over,” according to them. Based out of Music City, the group consists of singer-songwriter Nicole Boggs (The Four on Fox), guitarists/songwriters Alex Kramer (Jason Derulo) and Sam Gyllenhaal, and bassist Loren D. Clark (Keb Mo, Gone West). The highly collaborative group thrives off their shared sense of humor, cracking jokes between one another after heavier songs to lighten the mood, and a relentless commitment to witty, refined musicianship.
The group has been riding the wave of their 2019 album Scenes from Last Year, and now they’re ready to make an even bigger splash with “I’m Gonna Break Your Heart,” an exciting taste-test of the highly anticipated EP, None of Your Business, which is due out this summer. With a music video to boot, the intriguing cover art details a sepia tone dummy, lifelessly leaning on a gilded vase filled with a single heart. Consider us curious…
The disturbing balance between perfection (in the dummy’s hand-painted face and the china dishware) and the foreboding fragility of the heart, the dummy’s fate are just in tune with the group’s quirky humor. The bass heavy intro opens with a phrase reminiscent of any lone wolf, “You’re a rose in the desert baby, I’m a wasteland/Quit giving me your love, I’m gonna break your heart.” But the rugged mystique doesn’t end there. A fun guitar lick in the chorus hooks you, much like a reckless heartbreaker would, and Boggs’ psychedelic vocals hypnotize through to the ending instrumentals between the electric guitar and head-banger hits in the snare.
We got to check on the band’s latest whereabouts and hear more on the single and music video release of “I’m Gonna Break Your Heart.”
First of all congrats on the single and the music video! Now is “I’m Gonna Break Your Heart” an autobiographical song? Maybe a little?
In order to sing the line, “I’m a mean bitch” you gotta have a little of that deep inside, right? You hear a lot of the “stay away from me – I’m trouble” songs from a male point of view, so we decided to reverse the roles and give women an anthem for their own recklessness. It’s more character driven than autobiographical, but you can believe what you want. 😉
How did you come up with the idea for the music video? I saw the teaser of the dummy with the heart and the china plates…
Our friends at Duende Vision brought this video to life. We basically just wanted to break shit, so we started there. Then we let ourselves get weird and rocked out with random found-objects. Anana and Irakli masterfully utilized the space in their garage to nail the visceral, grungy aesthetic that the song needed.
Is this song part of an album or a standalone single?
“I’m Gonna Break Your Heart” is the second single off of our upcoming EP, NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. The full five-song EP will be out July 3rd.
Where was it recorded and who helped it come to life?
We were invited to take part in CDBaby’s DIY Musician Conference demonstrating recording as a live band at the legendary Ocean Way Nashville. It was really fun to break down the nuances that go into playing off of each other in the studio. The pressure was definitely on to execute doing live takes in front of a live audience. It felt like being on stage which really heightened the energy in the room and we hope that can be felt through the track.
Who are some of your primary influences you try to emulate in your music?
ALL HAIL TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS. Sorry for shouting. We’re continually inspired by the purity of 70’s rock n’ roll as songwriters and producers. All time favorites include Fleetwood Mac, Bonnie Raitt, The Beatles… shall we go on?
Can you walk me through your typical songwriting process?
An average Tuesday for us begins with pretending like we’re gonna start writing at 11 AM and actually getting started by 2 PM sharp. We stock the band house with plenty of coffee and try to make each other laugh. We’ll take as many distractions as we can get. We take our time settling into a groove and finding a melody we can all get off on. Then it’s time to look through all of our hook books and laugh some more about whatever drunk idea seemed good in 2016. We’ll start kicking around lyrical ideas, and once we’ve settled on a direction, we’ll pretty much talk about our feelings for the next four hours. We’re proud to be slow writers. We overthink just about everything. A couple of spirited disagreements/tickle fights later and we’ve got ourselves a song.
What messages or feelings do you most hope to have resonate with those listening?
We try to be ourselves unapologetically, and hope our music invites listeners to do the same. We tackle big subjects, tell the truth and try not to take ourselves too seriously. Some of the big messages on this EP are not letting people box you in, not putting up with bullshit and acknowledging your own strengths and weaknesses in order to move forward.
What does a dream show entail for Nicole Boggs & The Reel? (assuming shows happen again)
We live in Nashville, so the obvious and obligatory answer is that it would be magical to play the Ryman Auditorium. It’d be incredible to open for one of our heroes like Sheryl Crow. SNL would also be pretty cool or whatever.
What are some of your biggest musical pet peeves? Whether it be something other artists do, venues, fans, etc.
Nashville probably has more music venues than any other city in the world, but a disproportionate amount that cater to entertainment tourism, aka “party band music” aka “Why does it feel like a wedding reception in every bar?” We’d love to give visitors a more complete picture of the depth and variety Nashville has to offer. Thankfully there are still independent venues peppered throughout the city that cater to original independent music, like The Basement and Exit/In.
Do you feel the pandemic has helped or hurt your creative process?
Probably both. On one hand, we’ve got a lot more time to write and are getting some much needed down time in the absence of shows. On the other hand, we’ve been trying to Skype/FaceTime write with our friends and our internet connection has been a real pain in the ass. Worrying about staying well and staying afloat financially is taking up a lot of brain space, but we’re trying to channel some of that anxiety into what will hopefully become our next record. The emotional roller coaster of social isolation has opened us up to some pretty universal concepts. Plus, we made a music video for our next single in quarantine that we’re very excited to share.
If the pandemic magically ended tomorrow and all the beloved Nashville establishments were up and running, what are some of the first few you’d hit up?
Sunday Night Soul at The 5 Spot would be one of our first stops. Our local watering hole is Rebar at the Dam so that’s definitely high on the list (Hooray Hip Donelson.) We play a lot on Printer’s Alley so we would have to hit up Snitch, Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar and grab a lamb burger at Fleet Street Pub.
Photo & Video by Duende Vision
Editor’s Note: Intro by Nina Kindrachuk & questions by Paul Howard