Music

Behind the Beat: Long-Distance Rock Affair

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Thursday, April 07, 2011
Self-portrait by Elise Nacca
One half of Bourgeois Heroes. The other is Jason Bourgeois, unpictured.

For Bourgeois Heroes drummer Elise Nacca, the when and how parts of the band's origin are far less consequential than the why.

The group formed in New Haven, Conn., but the two principals are now, at least geographically, divided: Nacca resides in Austin while guitarist/singer Jason Bourgeois lives in Northampton.

Nacca took time out recently to discuss the duo's early days, the challenges of remote collaboration, and the release of its latest single, "Ol?/Hola."

"It was so long ago now," says Nacca about the birth of BH. "The events seem less important than the memories of being young and adventurous and excited about everything; carrying drums on the train to Manhattan to play a show, drawing posters, being snotty, making 200 copies of our band's first album cover because the copier counter at Kinko's broke, practicing in Jason's tiny efficiency with towels on the drum heads, driving through the night to Memphis listening to Elvis's Aloha from Hawaii over and over.

"I think it just comes down to two people who are good friends."

Since the beginning, Bourgeois has handled the lion's share of songwriting duties. While the two often communicate ideas and critiques back and forth, Nacca says ideas for her drum parts usually emerge during the recording process

She has a distinct mental picture of the tunes' origins. "I have an image in my head of him in rolled shirtsleeves, furiously marking up sheet music at a piano and typing lyrics at a typewriter," she says.

Together, the two create indie-pop confections concerning topics like girls, boys, summertime and dancing.

Against the odds, Nacca and Bourgeois continue to make music together, despite seeing each other only on occasion. "Being 1,800 miles apart is not conducive to being in a band," says Nacca. "Jason is very restless. He needs always to be in some stage in the process. Musicians are like that, I've noticed. For me, if Jason and I never recorded anything but got to play together more often, I would be content."

Are there any advantages to being a two-person unit? Or any disadvantages? "I can't think of any drawbacks to being in a two-person band," Nacca says. "Bands are fun, but they are also really awful. Usually you have two egomaniacs playing guitar who both want to sing, an overweight, unreliable drummer, and a bassist that's in, like, four other bands, and no one wants to pay for the practice space."

Bourgeois Heroes' new single, "Ol?/Hola," is available as a vinyl seven-inch record via February Records, as a handmade CD-R through Rub Wrongways Records and as a digital download. Nacca drew the cover, a rendering of the pair's original instruments, purchased in Memphis.

"I still have the drums, but Jason sold the guitar," laments Nacca. "I have no idea why—the sentimental value of that thing was through the roof."

To listen to and purchase "Ol?/Hola," visit www.bourgeoisheroes.bandcamp.com. For the band's official website, head to www.bourgeoisheroes.com.

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