Can’t find any straight-forward pop music? Searching for a bit of glam in your life? Want to wax nostalgic to a couple decades ago when music was fun and had a bit of heart? It’s been hiding in the Pacific Northwest with the Greatest Hits. Nils Forever fronts the band with an unabashed and indulgent personality. Leif Pacemaker, who shares the same familial blood with front man Nils, is quite the shy one as he supplies the rhythm guitar. Ricky Dynamite provides an explosive low-end on the bass. The Spenceman expertly takes control of the riffs on lead guitar. And, last but certainly not least, Roman Deutscher Meister is a rock ‘n roll metronome on the back of the stage with the drum kit.
With song titles like “Shakes and Licks”, “Terminal Sleaze”, and “Hangover City”, it’s not hard to picture any of the band members holing up in your favorite neighborhood dive bar with the satin and ruffles of their New York Dolls’ influenced clothing lighting up the shadows. But as Nils Forever has been heard saying on multiple occasions: “You think this is a costume? It’s a fucking way of life!” And it is. The Greatest Hits are a musical love affair with the rock ‘n roll of the good-ole-days where sleaze wasn’t something to shy away from and the fashion choices were louder than the amps.
With the intros of the local Seattle oldies radio station reverberating in Nils’ ears: “and now bringing you the greatest hits”, the name already sounded familiar. But when coupled with a dream he had of him and his brother, Leif Pacemaker, playing in front of a large audience and harmonizing songs akin to the Beatles, there was no denying what the newest musical venture would be called. Forming after a brief stint in a band called the Rabid Dogs, the Greatest Hits is the musical realization of Nils Forever after a span of time sitting in a “normal nine – to – five job with a really bad speed habit.” It only takes a few days of beating your head against a wall and mindlessly staring at a computer screen before you start to ponder your other options.
And the most promising and exciting option was music. And Nils got back into it “fast and hard.”
Employing his knowledge of the scene from his days in a crusty punk band, Poxy, and his extensive list of connections, Nils pushed to get the Greatest Hits started and on their way to making a bang in the oftentimes dreary Seattle music scene. It’s one of those scenes where bands have a tendency to be inbred: sharing their members and equipment. Stagnancy within the scene is also like a persistent virus as most bands within a certain genre are friends and don’t venture out of their melodic comfort zone. The Greatest Hits are not afraid to challenge that particular status quo though Nils does admit that “most of the bands [he] likes are friends, and the people [he] doesn’t like, [he] also doesn’t like their music.” But maybe that just has to do with respecting each other as individuals via respecting music choices and creations.
Attempting to get out of the confines of the Seattle scene and its various and sundry shackles, the band has self-booked a national tour for the summer of 2009. Crammed in a van with the Canadian glam-band, Pretty Vanilla, the Greatest Hits will make their way across the county. “You have to be out there on the road to keep things fresh and moving…we’re always dying to get out and play,” Nils explains. And the prospects of the neon glamour of New York, the sleaze of Los Angeles, the homies in Philadelphia, and the luck of Las Vegas will keep them moving despite the ridiculous and ever-rising gas prices.
But it is all worth it because they are bringing their passion and energy to a city near you sometime soon. With a Ramones-flavored lineup, their live set is a slap in the face “going from one song to the next with as little chatter as necessary.” Sure there’s an emphasis on the fast tunes, but don’t expect to be deprived of the softer side of the Greatest Hits. Whatever the order, the band is just looking to “blow a few minds.”
Doing it all D.I.Y. has its appeal but a year down the road, Nils wouldn’t mind being “signed to a label with some major distribution and some pull.” Such a deal would also allow Nils and the other band members “to be able to focus on the music and [their own lives].” Novel concept. Maybe once they are being appreciated in the black and white of magazines outside of the Pacific Northwest, the local papers and local scene will start to take notice. The snobbery of the Northwest can sometimes, and often does impede any forward movement for bands creating music that lies outside of the confining trends and the hipster dialogue.
Find the soundtrack to your days of sleaze and excess on The Greatest Hits’ album. And maybe even check out their website to “let them know which member you think is the hottest.” Maybe a boost to their ego will mean a boost to their record sales. Hell, it couldn’t hurt. After all, they are playing rock n roll for their own pleasure, for your state of mind, and “For Our Hearts.”