I met Darren Nanos way back when on Long Island. He was playing in a noisy eccentric hardcore band called Legs Up, and he immediately struck me as a person who saw the world through a different lens. In the literal sense, he was a wonderful photographer who captured much of the energy going on in the Long Island hardcore scene at the time. But in a more conceptual way, Nanos just seemed to always need a creative outlet. Be it drumming, photography, or writing, he’s a creatively kinetic person. There’s simply no two ways around that.
Lately, he’s taken to making videos as a sort of one-man cover band. It started as something clever that he’d post to his Instagram account, but has since taken off a bit more. He’s now got a YouTube channel up showcasing all of the covers his recorded from Beastie Boys to Void to Sick of It All. Mind you, Nanos does all the legwork here. He plays every instrument in the covers, and he does all the recording. This is all in the time he cuts out when he’s not playing in his many musical projects with other people. Like I said, kinetic. I sat down with Darren to talk these videos, his bands, and recording.
What sparked your initial idea to make these videos?
Well, the thing I had wanted most for a long time was a place to go where mics are just always up, that way I could just walk in and press record. I actually just did the first one, the Straight Ahead cover, as a sort of mic placement test. The song was just stuck in my head and, after playing the drums through once, I figured, "this might be a fun thing to film and edit later." People didn't immediately kick me off the internet after I posted it so I figured why not make it a semi-regular thing?
How do you decide which song you’re going to play during a given session?
Usually it's something that I have going on in my head, or something I'm listening to heavily that week. I might be at home futzing with the guitar or bass, stumble upon a riff by accident, then decide to learn the rest. After randomly doing the first two I sort of limited myself to songs that were under a minute because of Instagram's time limit. It was actually kind of a nice challenge.
Have you thought about branching off into covers of bands outside of hardcore?
Yeah, I do have some alternative and punk stuff in mind, especially since I've been inviting my multi-talented friends to join me lately. Hardcore is my shit though, so I will probably keep flooding people's feeds with videos of me yelling at them [laughs].
Whose space is it that you use? Is it all your equipment?
That space is primarily mine but is shared with some of my band mates in Deep Pockets, so some of the heads and cabs are theirs. I used to move my recording paraphernalia around in a couple huge suitcases and keep other stuff like drums in incredibly kind friends' basements. It's so great to finally have a spot to keep it all, and sort of inspires me to keep finding more...
Given that you’re proficient at all instruments, which do you prefer most to play?
When all is said and done I think I'm really a drummer at heart. It was my first love. It might have been seeing marching band drummers at parades, or the "boom ba-kat" of my neighbor’s sound systems at the house I grew up. I just love it. I wish I could shred like Kirk Hammett or something, it would a hundred percent be guitar if that was the case. But unfortunately I'm not quite there. Not yet at least.
Talk about some of your current musical projects... you're in so many bands!
[Laughs] I like to stay busy! I play drums in Outskirts and we just put our first full length out on a tape and the net. That's just a fast paced and heavy hardcore band. I'm drumming in psych-alt-rock band Super Natural Psycho too, and their first LP came out in conjunction with streetwear brand Noah. I play bass in Born Sinner, which is a crossover style hardcore band. We have our demo tape out and are working on some new tracks right now for our next release. And recently resurrected is Deep Pockets, which is sort of a grunge rock band. Our guitar player moved to LA for a minute, so we went on hiatus, but we recently started cleanin’ the cobwebs out of our brains to remember the songs. Their last EP was Nice Life on Dead Broke Records.
Are you recording bands more often these days? That LIMIT record is great.
Thanks man, they are a sick band! I'm open to it for sure, I have a lot of fun doing it when I get the chance. Anyone can hit me up if you're in the NYC area of course. Yeah, I'm currently helping some people with a few of their projects here and there, recording vocals or whatever overdubs. But more so working on my own projects which are some covers with Super Natural Psycho and a new hardcore demo.
What are some bands we can expect cover videos for in the near future?
Part of the fun is the surprise I think so I won't let too much out, but as I was raised on New York hardcore you can bet I will probably stay in that vein, at least until I run out of cool bands to do!
If you're shopping for vinyl, CD, and cassette hardcore titles, head to No Echo's partner store, Reverb LP, to see what they have available. Every purchase you make helps No Echo with site costs.