In the middle of a stroll down Harvard Ave last spring, something caught my attention as I passed by Refuge Cafe in Allston. It was nice out, and the sounds of a band setting up drifted through the open windows. I’d never seen bands play there, nor had I often seen places with live music in Boston have their windows open. I bumped into a friend of mine who said that Nice Guys was about to play, so I walked in to check it out.
When the band started playing, they immediately kicked the daylights out of their instruments, with enormous sounds blaring out of their amps. They were just a force, and by the end of their set guitarist and singer Alex Aronson was jumping out of the same open window while simultaneously ripping a solo.
“I think that’s the most important thing about our band is the live show. I try to entertain … I don’t want to be that band [that just stands there]. I want people to come see my band and feel included,” said Aronson.
Nice Guys play a mix of punk and garage rock that doesn’t really invoke the tropes of either. They are loud and they are rough, but they are more fun than serious.
“Usually I say [we’re] stoner punk … like punk music if you’re really stoned and still want to play really fast, but don’t have the attention span to play a bunch of different riffs and do all these different things. It’s like groovy, but fast,” said guitarist Matt Garlick. “We like to call ourselves basement stoner or stasement boner, which ever one you prefer.”
Drummer Cam Smith calls the band “Allston beer soaked basement rock”
Nice Guys haven’t had a chance to do too many interviews. I brought up an interview they did with the Berkeley Beacon three years ago when the band just started. The piece, much to their chagrin, described them as a band that was “rocking the Allston underground.”
“We had played three shows at that point and they were like ‘Nice Guys rock Allston underground!’ We had played three shows,” said Aronson.
It wasn’t so much that they weren’t flattered by the statement, more that they were bashful and wanted to defer other more established bands that were helping them at the time.
“There were some bands that were already around that took us under their wing and got us on some sick shows,” said bassist and singer Jake Gilbertson.
Gilbertson named Travis Hagan, drummer of New Highway Hymnal, now defunct band The Migs, and CreaturoS, whose label pRIMORDIAL sOUNDS put out Nice Guys’ recent LAPD EP, as hugely helpful when they were starting out.
LAPD came out in August last year and Smith calls it the crowning achievement of the band thus far. In true Nice Guys style, the EP was recorded fast and loose.
“We only went in there to do ‘Cop Walk’ and we were like, ‘well we have these other songs.’ So we just did one after the other and did six songs in seven hours. It was pretty fun,” said Garlick.
The band is currently poised to release much more new material with a tape called Chips in the Moonlight coming out February 12 on 456 Records, a track being recorded at Converse Rubber Tracks, a prospective split with Boston emigres Free Pizza, and even (ambitiously) a possible full length by year’s end. And yes, of course, they’ll continue to rock the Allston underground.
You can catch Nice Guys at their release show February 12 at their EP Release show February 12 at Club Bohemia with Black Beach, Slow Jerks, and The Monsieurs.