Nerdy Guts and Glory
By Dan MacIntosh
Hot Nerds and Innerds will share the stage at Blood Orange Info Shop on August 12, and while each has the word ‘nerds’ somewhere in its name, these acts are not some sort of musical siblings or brothers from another mother. Nevertheless, they do share an off-center, yet undeniably compelling musical nature in common.
Nathan Joyner leads Hot Nerds along with his girlfriend Alia Jyawook, and was initially attracted by the chance to play real live music together when he first formed the act. “We were both DJs before,” notes Joyner, “so we got tired of pressing the play button.”
Although it certainly does a whole lot more than merely press the play button, Hot Nerds’ music still shares elements with dance music—albeit slightly odd dance music. “We listen to a lot of techno,” Joyner explains, “mixed with, like, Fad Gadget and Nitzer Ebb and weird New Wave kind of stuff.” What comes out of such ‘out there’ influences, however, is still a little difficult to explain. “It’s kind of like a kid with ADD on Adderall,” notes Joyner. “It’s just a broad spectrum; it doesn’t really fit into a genre.”
The group’s name, clearly, is a bit of a joke. After all, hot bodies and the nerdy kids are traditionally kept a safe distance from each other, according to the 1980s.
“The name came from Alia,” Joyner explains. “In her old house she had a music room and she had a Casio keyboard set up and she had, like, a kick drum under it and she used to joke around and say that she was a hot nerd because she was a one-man kind of band thing doing nerdy shit playing keyboard and doing quarter notes on the drums. We just decided to go with that name because it was kind of suiting for the both of us.”
The Innerds’ Bobby Bray is from the band that’s been described as a “bug-outfit wearing sci-fi grind core band,” named The Locust. But with this latest musical offshoot, Bray says “Innerds came up with a sort of genre to describe it, which is post-honky-tonk prog scrog space tropicalia math lounge,” which is as confusing as it is a mouthful to say. “It’s on our Facebook page,” Bray says proudly. “Oftentimes, when we’re playing with other bands people want to know what it sounds like or what genre you’re in. So we kind of made up our own genre because I don’t think we can be categorized. It’s strange. It’s weird. It’s maybe the sound of an id gone wild. It’s hard to describe. It’s kind of all over the place.”
While staunchly strange, Innerds music is not without a sense of purpose.
“We’re trying to document the strange feelings inside,” Bray explains, “that words can’t describe. It’s like the role of music in the first place; it’s a way of communicating, essentially. These are the thoughts, the feelings and ideas that can’t be conveyed otherwise, so they have to come out in strange song form. That’s one explanation of what we’re trying to do, I guess.”
Innerds is also a type of reaction to the music these musicians have made with other groups. “We’ve been in other bands,” says Bray “so this is sort of like a new exploration of what can be done that’s different from other projects we’ve been a part of. This is new ground, new territory and it doesn’t necessarily fit into some category. We’re not a hardcore band. We’re not an indie band. We’re not a post-hardcore band. We’re not a grunge core band. We’re carving out a new existence. One purpose we’re setting out to do is completely create something unpredictable; something that doesn’t already exist.”
As you may expect, Bray doesn’t see success the way, say, Drake or Taylor Swift view it.
“It’s certainly not through money,” Bray begins. “I kind of more so than ever believe that anyone playing music for money is barking up the wrong tree. You probably statistically have a better chance of winning the lotto than ever making a living making music. Success, I think, is being able to document something that resonates with someone’s innards. Someone’s insides. To convey something no one else has conveyed. To get at some secret truth of life. To be able to uncover that and expose it and put it out for fellow humans to enjoy.”
Yep, these two groups sure display a lot of nerdy guts.
Innerds, Secret Fun Club and Hot Nerds at Blood Orange Info Shop, 3485 University Ave., Riverside; bloodorangeinfoshop.org. Mon, Aug. 12. 7PM. Admission is free, suggested donation is $5. All ages.