Interview: Better Looking People With Superior Ideas

Hey guys,
and again I've got a cheeky little interview for you.
This time Nick and Craig who are also known as Better Looking People With Superior Ideas.

Don't give me that look, I'm still writing objectively, it's just their band name.

Nick Norton and Craig Vermeyen, located in Los Angeles (US), started the project of "BLPWSI" in 2010 after playing in the same band for many years.
What started as a jam session in Nick's living room lead to recording their debut E.P (listen below) to playing shows to being interviewed on house in the sand.

See what the two good looking guys have to say about their band name, their musical heroes, Discover cards and a lot more.

house in the sand: So guys, your band name “Better Looking People With Superior Ideas” probably couldn't be more unique. What’s the superior idea behind it?

Nick: Well it’s a quote, but a misremembered one. We’d been tossing band names around for a while, and Craig went to go see LCD Soundsystem at the Hollywood Bowl. He called right after the show and was like, “I have our band name. Better Looking People With Superior Ideas.” I was on board immediately. I later looked up the lyric, which is from “Losing My Edge” by LCD. James Murphy actually says, “I’m losing my edge to better looking people with better ideas and more talent.”

That said, we think starting a band and playing music that we work hard on and believe in is a pretty superior idea. But I suppose that’s subjective.

house in the sand: How would you describe your sound to people who haven’t heard it yet?

Craig: Well first I’d say just take a listen for free on our website/facebook/bandcamp.  We had a blog say our music sounded like the score to a love story about robots.  I really hope so, but I’ve always thought we’re somewhere between Animal Collective and Matt and Kim.  Matt Collective?  Animal Kim?

Nick: Yeah, I have a tough time with that one, so usually ask other people. My friend Leslie called our music “hipster anthems,” and I liked that. And a girl I’m dating texted me after the first time she heard our EP and said, “I am so glad your band doesn’t suck.” That made me really happy.

house in the sand: What gave you the confidence and motivation to start out in one of the hardest industries, the music industry?

Nick: It wasn’t such a concrete decision as that. It’s just who we are and what we do. We’d be making music no matter what, because it’s what we love.

I don’t remember a particular starting point - I mean, I remember my first music lessons back when I was a kid, and I remember the first records I bought and the first concerts I went to - but I don’t remember when I started to say, “okay, this is what I’m going to make my life doing.” I say that now, but by the time I started thinking about the industry side of it - at least, as much as necessary to build a sustainable career - I had already long figured out that doing this was my life.

Craig:  Yeah, music has been ingrained in  me from a very young age.  I guess I can trace it back to my parents first putting me into piano lessons when I was 5 or 6 (and of course forcing me to practice every day).  I kinda caught the bug from there, and never really thought about “getting into the music industry.”  Like Nick said, we’re having fun.

house in the sand: Which (famous) musician(s) have you learned from?

Craig:  I think I have to give Thom Yorke some credit here.  I was pretty obsessed with Radiohead through most of my formative music years, and it had a tangible effect on my writing and performing.  He helped me to realize being weird is okay, and actually positive if you are somehow able to make people relate to you more because you seem genuine (like Thom does).  I really hope I get to a place where I'm comfortable dancing like he does on stage.

Nick: I try to listen to and learn from as much music as possible. Even the things I don’t like, I try to figure out why I don’t like them and what I would change. I try to draw lessons from those who seem the best at what they’re doing, regardless of what it is that they’re doing. That said, a few artists whose music has really taught me a lot are Radiohead, Refused, Steve Reich, Sigur Ros, Stravinsky, Bach, Battles, Miles Davis, John Cage, Mozart, The Receiving End of Sirens, The Weakerthans, Bright Eyes, Charles Mingus, The Beatles, Dillinger Escape Plan, Broken Social Scene, Nels Cline...this list could go on for a really long time. I’ve got a bit of formal training as a composer as well, and classical music types often like to brag about their teaching lineage. I’ve got direct lines to Beethoven, Messiaen, Shostakovich, Stockhausen, Xenakis, and Nadia Boulanger (hence Fauré and Saint-Saëns) in mine. So there’s also that, if that’s your thing.

house in the sand: What inspired you to write your single “With You”?

Craig:  This is the only one of our songs I’ve written that is actually a story (as opposed to just focused on an idea).  It follows the events of a trip I took to New York with my girlfriend pretty early in our relationship.  Things starting going wrong in the airport leaving Newark (as they always do), and we ended up having to hop a quick flight to Chicago for a connecting flight the next morning (in like five hours) - which meant we had to sleep in the airport.  Just laying there and having the realization that it wasn’t so bad because she was with me inspired me to jot down a few notes that eventually turned into the song.  It’s still my favorite song to sing.

house in the sand: How often to you rehearse? Do you practice regularly?

Nick: We have a pretty solid commute for rehearsal, so we tend to rehearse for a few hours every other week, then every week when we have a show coming up, and sometimes twice during a show week. We do a lot of our writing by emailing little snippets back and forth and brainstorming, and then when we get together we’ll sit down at a piano and try to turn them into something the length of a song. Our cell phone video cameras have become surprisingly useful. Then we’ll orchestrate it using all of our instruments and electronics, try it out in practice, tweak it, and repeat.

house in the sand: What advice would you give to fellow bands?

Nick: Be hard on yourselves! I think quite a few bands get to something that sounds good, and say “okay, that sounds good.” What I’m really proud of in this band is how harsh we are on ourselves. It’s friendly, because we know it’s for what’s best for the music, but we don’t think “good” or “that works” is in any way acceptable. Every single second has to be the best that it can possibly be, and contribute to the rest of the song in the best way that it possibly can. Of course our definition of “best” is probably very different from someone else’s. But if everyone would step back and detach themselves emotionally (after initially writing whatever they’re writing, and definitely NOT in performance), I think a lot of people’s music would improve a lot. Also, listen to as much music as you possibly can. Constantly. And analyze the hell out of why you like it or why you don’t like it, and figure out what about it is better than what you’re doing.

house in the sand: Please complete the following sentence: We are Better Looking People With Superior Ideas and we …

Craig:  ...want you to come dance and sing with us.

Nick: ...take our music wayyyyy more seriously than we take ourselves.

house in the sand: Is there anything else you want the house in the sand readers to know?

Craig:  Does everyone know that you can get 5% back on gasoline purchases with a Discover card next quarter.  5%!  On all gas!

Nick: Do they even accept Discover cards in Germany?

I recently figured out the trick to making an awesome steak over charcoal. You put all the coals in a pile right in the middle of a barbeque, so that they almost touch the grill, and then put the steak there for literally like 30 seconds on each side. That sears in all the juices. Then move it away, to the edge of the grill where it’s cooler, for like five minutes. You don’t even have to flip it. It comes out so good!

house in the sand: Thank you so much for sitting down and answering my questions. I simply can’t wait to hear more of you.

Nick: Thank you! You will.

Craig: Thanks! Keep doing what you do :)

Listen to the whole BLPWSI EP:

Get connected:

That's it, thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed.

Vanessa x

images: BLPWSI Facebook


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