Their debut EP Sundance Romance has been dubbed a “summer soundtrack,” but Melbourne-based band Napier have proven that their music provides the party tunes all year round.
Led by frontman Nelson Dore, the band also consists of bass player Jimi Taylor, keys player Nick Dalton-Bocquet and drummer Matty Lansdown. Nelson and Jimi have known each other since primary school.
“I met Jimi in Primary School,” Nelson told The Real Songwriters of Melbourne.“We grew up together. We liked the same time type music and played together after school. It was just what we did music’s just what we’ve always done. I met the other guys through friends of friends at university. I studied Music Industries at NMIT, majoring in songwriting and record production.”
Despite coming from a non-musical family, music has always been a major part of Nelson’s life. Multi-talented, he plays guitar and piano as well as vocals, and writes all the music for Napier. Having known Jimi almost all his life, they’ve always been in music together.
“I’ve always been in a band, with Jimi, and have always done the band thing. Whenever I wanted to play music, I always saw the bigger picture of being in a band.
“I generally write all the songs. So I’ll write up the chords, lyrics and melodies and take it back to the band, where we’ll flesh it out into a rockin’ song. Every song’s kind of different though. For this new record (Sundance Romance), the songs were written instrument-first, but it’s not always like that. Sometimes I could be humming a melody all day and can come home and make it a song, or a cool little lyric that I can’t get out of my head until I flesh it out. There’ll always be some kind of idea, whether it be from the melody or lyrics. Then I’ll force myself to make a song out of it.”
And even though he’s always made music in a band, Nelson admits it’s not easy bringing songs back to the group.
“We have those times where we (the band) aren’t really gelling or we’ll take a song and it just won’t work. So we’ll be like ‘forget it.’ Sometimes I’ll bring it back a few weeks later and we’ll nail it. It just depends on the timing.”
Nelson’s songwriting has been successful regardless, as the band’s debut single ‘Shake! Shake! Shake!’ has proved popular among their growing fans.
“The song’s on the EP, but we released it as a single to get our vibe out there. When I wrote it, I was vibing off Bo Diddley and that kind of music from the 50s and 60s. I found a riff that worked and thought it’d be cool to have a song like that, because nobody’s really doing that anymore. It ended up being a really catchy number and goes down well live.”
Apart from Diddley, Napier’s biggest influences include The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and even Elvis Presley. Nelson admits that Jett was the band that brought him and Jimi together. Most recently, the band have been taking influence from Tame Impala and Nathaniel Ratecliffe.
They also entered the Melbourne Music Bank in 2015 with Shake! Shake! Shake! and made the finals.
“It was an invaluable experience. There are so many industry professionals there, and it is the industry that votes on the top 12, so being selected validates you in the industry and also gives you the confidence that people want to hear your songs. It’s a great opportunity to network and receive advice about how to get your music out there. To play a song I’ve written in front of people makes me nervous, but it’s a relief to get a good reception. And we got a pretty good reception with the song.”
Napier launched their EP Sundance Romance on Saturday November 19 at the Ding Dong Lounge in Melbourne CBD. The EP, as Nelson describes it, consists of “pre-drinking grooving songs, late night kicking songs and Sunday sippers.” The band hopes the show will be high-energy, full of catchy songs.
Written by Jordyn Hoekstra.