The Greatest Band You’ve Never Heard

Written by Hellcat Wednesday, 11 March 2009
For a band that was technically started a full decade ago, one might think that a huge following would be a given. Nope. Not for The Nim Nims. Their band name comes from a Kurt Vonnegut reference and originated in 1999.

They were off to a slow start due to band co-founder, Zach Bridges, moving to Florida soon after they got off the ground. The band consists of a menagerie of artists with very diverse backgrounds. The wide range of musical influences contributes to the band’s unique sound. Generally, about here in an article, I explain to my readers what the band actually sounds like, comparing them to a cross between Band A and Band B with a touch of Band C. I truly cannot do that with The Nim Nims. They don’t sound like anything I know, really, except for good.

Blake Debar on guitar, lead vocals, and lyrical mastermind, has a bit of acoustic and indie rock in his roots, whereas Robert Waller on bass has his own set of roots in his past…Milele Roots and some choir. Clay Bowen on drums, formerly of Beyonce, has a Masters in loud and a Bachelors in Modest Mouse, Dusty „Jordan who plays lead guitar, pulls more from Southern rock and is rumored to listen to KZ-100. Zach Bridges took a lesson from Will Ferrell and totally gives you more cowbell than you knew you could handle, as well as percussion and synthesizer.

You can hear all of these, which is probably why you can’t put your finger on a single label or category to attach to them. ‘There is nothing I hate more than listening to something that sounds contrived. One thing I’m proud of is our original sound,” says Zach. Clay joined up in 2003, and Zach rejoined when he moved back in late 2007. Maybe this was the combination they needed, as soon enough, their fan base started to climb.„ literally one person at a time.

I think I know a few things about the local music scene, and I had heard of them but never heard them. I stumbled upon them online while searching for Chattanooga bands to book with The Tammys. I wrote Wake arid told him I’d like a CD. I popped the CD in my Car radio and by the second song was calling Blake to give him his option of dales. That was about a month ago, and with the exception of momentary MUSIC research, the CD has found residency in my player. I Cove them. How did I overlook them all this time? I feel kinda foolish and apologetic to have not seen something so amazing in my scene. But apparently, I’m not the only one.

The Nim Nims have been flying under the radar for years. I asked them why. Blake gave a small smirk and stared that they -haven’t gotten a lot of press or fancy promotion. Tile slow build has definitely been hard on the or self•esteem.’ Clay offers, “We don’t hang out much and we don’t self promote. We aren’t in your race. out we like it that way.-
Over the last six months the crowds have started to swell and the crowd is moving and dancing, generally demanding an encore. They all agree the crowd response is really important to them and it used to be devastating, especially to Blake, when someone would leave during their set—mainly because the crowd was four people_ The last few shows I’ve attended were packed out and pulsating. Zach explains, ‘We may not have gotten fans immediately, but they have started to warm up to us, finally. Because OW following came slowly, the fans we do have are pretty hardcore fans, corning to every show and singing the songs. Honestly, I %voted rather have those fans rather than the ones that are only at the show for the beer specials.”

My reaction, however, was immediate, and I will rock their band shirt as soon as I get my hands on it. I am a lyric-s person and I love that the songs are about real and personal experiences, which often tends to obscure references and inside jokes but relatable circumstances. These guys are really fun and obviously don’t take themselves too seriously. Because the members are such good friends outside of the band, songwriting comes easy, as they all have a mutual respect for each other and they all pull from different inspiration, Material is not something they are short on, boasting about 50 songs in their song bank, and recording another album is next on their agenda. (Please, please, please.) If you like live music, dancing, fun, or lyrical gems you will have several upcoming opportunities to meet your new favorite bend. They are playing with T.J. Grever & Friends and Taxicab Racers on March 17 at Rhythm and Brews and The Riverhouse March 21 with The Tammys.

Michael Kendall,

The Nim Nims

Rock bands have a penchant for redundancy. They often recycle the jargon of their peers, exaggerate the over-driven chorus, or try to rehash the Eddie Vedder playbook. At worst, they end up sounding like a navel-gazing cross-breed of late-nineties dad rock and the confused pop-punk of Generation Y.

Rather than recycle worn conventions, The Nim Nims offer thoughtful lyrics, intentional arrangements and re-creations of conventional tonalities. The sound palate on Patten Towers is interesting and creative. Lyrics citing local haunts like Lookout Mountain and Patten Towers in “Dead Sober” will instantly appeal to the band’s Chattanooga audience. Still, this album gives listeners more reasons than just nostalgia to stick around.

The subtle, pop sensibility of “Vindicated” tells of burgeoning maturity. A typical rock and roll fare of distorted guitar opens the track, but the initial chorus melts into the vocal introduction with dissonant piano chords and a drum machine beat. Hopefully, the band will continue to pursue this blending of styles in the future.

The vocal harmonies on “Words” along with the banjo line on “Missionary” smack of bluegrass. And the meandering guitar line and granulated synths on “Blowfish” seem to emanate from the archives of early Get Up Kids and Built to Spill.

Patten Towers is a great addition to the swath of albums released recently by Chattanooga bands. Its caveats of intentional creativity set the work free, and make the Nim Nims’ alt-rock perspective original and exciting

-Michael Kendall,

Written by Hellcat, January 13, 2010

The Nim Nims took a few months off this past summer to put together a rather epic second album.  I love this band.  They are a clever band, with a unique sound and thought-provoking lyrics.

Due to the early deadlines of the holidays, I was not able to give The Nim Nims a full write up, nor did I review the CD Patten Towers.  You should all know by now that a Nim Nim deserves more than that, and five Nim Nims—well, let’s just say that you don’t want to mess with an angry gaggle of Nim Nims.  So I will set the record straight right here, right now.

First off, the title won me over.  I have to admit that it makes my Chattanoogan blood warm whenever a local place is immortalized in an album or song.  The CD case has pictures of Patten Towers for the cover and the back as well.  Yay, Chattanooga.  The first song on the album is called “Missionary”.  The song starts with a deep swamp sound, with rebel rock around the edges.  I like this song because it fearlessly points out the hypocritical constructs of some religion.

“All those Pagan rituals are from barbaric fools/ Come with me now and I’ll dunk your head in a pool/ So sure, I’m right that I don’t need any proof/ and if I need some advice/ I won’t be asking no humans.”

I think this is spot-on, but then again, I love anything controversial.  The second song is called “King”, which takes on a more Shins vs. Built to Spill feel to it and houses some of my favorite lyrics.

“I’m the King of Stories Not Worth Mentioning, so you must be the Queen of Listening/Somehow you find me still quite interesting/Sometimes I think you should rethink some things.”

How delightfully self-deprecating, yet slightly romantic.  It makes me want to wear a V-neck.

Song three, “Dead Sober”, is a very powerful song driven by more of that sweet bayou rhythm.  It confronts head-on the frustrations of dealing with an addict, and contemplating giving up on them.  “You’ll be dead when you’re sober/But you won’t be sober ‘til you’re over,” is one of the pounding repetitions in the chorus.  “I should feel guilty, thinking I had no part/ And I should feel guilty for not feeling guilty.”  I personally have had this exact thought, and could relate to the guilt of not feeling guilt when society tells you that you most certainly should feel guilty.  It names our towers in relation to the high of a cocaine addict: “If those shoes are made of powder, won’t you jump off Patten Towers?”   It’s a very potent song that most people could relate to but truly wish they couldn’t.  Listening to the song may in fact make you feel guilty for liking it so much.

The fourth song makes the listener think there could be a possible theme going on, with “Pills” being the title.  This song is complex and heavy with truth, the words being equally as intense as the layering.  It delves into the realness of a severely medicated world and the consequences of medicinal technologies, and questions if it’s all really necessary.  It has an early Modest Mouse tone to it, which is the only Modest Mouse tone worth having.

The song begins with, “These pills, they keep me calm, but then they keep me awake/You got pills that put you to sleep, maybe that’s what I should take/Then I can’t get back up, all day I’m frustrated/Better living through modern chemistry starts to frustrate/I think they got a pill for that.”

The vicious and addictive cycle of the quick-fix solution to just medicate.  If this is a dose of reality, then I’ll take two.  Song five, entitled “Vindicated” is gorgeously structured, so much is going on in the background with the music and effects that it illustrates the haunting story with sound.  It’s one of those song stories where you almost feel like you are there.  If saying that makes me sound like a hippie, well, so be it.  Listen and you’ll understand, man.

“Not Bad” follows with a tempo-traveling, heavy, indie-rock sound, reminiscent of Dixie Dirt, which is a complimentary comparison for me to make and mean.
“Words” revisits the sound of Modest Mouse but only if Bright Eyes joined the band and Isaac sobered up.  This is the kind of song you should learn from, kids.  Self-awareness is good; I’m a fan.  Next, is “Blowfish.” if Lenny Kravitz and The Cure were in a dorm together, their band would probably sound like this, and I would probably book them at my next kegger.

“Lemmings” is my favorite song on the album, as it is full of the familiar “get on the dance floor” mojo that made me get into The Nim Nims to begin with and it doesn’t even have the cowbell.  It deals with the horrible truth of growing up and becoming a cookie-cutter, blue-collar worker, while making you dance around like you finally accepted it. Impressive.  “Picture” is what it promises and “Narcissistic Delight” describes the exact reason I don’t go to bars in chain restaurants.