High on Stress is:
Chad Wheeling – guitar;
Mark Devaraj – drums;
Nick Leet – vocals, guitar; and
Jim Soule – bass, backing vocals.
Image Courtesy of firstname.lastname@example.org
High on Stress is a Minneapolis band (well, Jim lives in Illinois now) that, by their own description, plays both kinds of music… rock AND roll. That sly Blues Brothers reference is fitting, as this band’s name is also a movie reference – Booger, from Revenge of the Nerds!
With a wonderfully ragged new album out (Hold Me In – reviewed here) and nowhere to go (thanks a lot COVID-19), NewsWhistle had the opportunity to ask Nick, via socially distant email, about the process of recording, rock and roll, and, yes, the Six Crucial Questions to which you need answers.
NewsWhistle: What was it like recording Hold Me In?
Nick Leet: It was a different process than we’ve ever had. For years things were arranged in the same room, and hashed out. There were some stops and starts at the beginning, but ultimately we would demo and send to Jim. We would have some phone conversations, and tweak accordingly.
NW: How are you holding up in these quarantimes?
NL: We are holding up okay. It’s stressful, but I believe we as people will come out the other side better than we’ve been in a few years.
NW: What does rock and roll mean to you?
NL: [Quotes the lyrics to Huey Lewis and the News’ “Heart of Rock and Roll”] Bucket list fulfilled. I have shoe-horned Huey Lewis into an interview.
NW: Does rock and roll have a “sell-by” date?
NL: Sell-by date? Nah. Rock and roll, well good rock and roll, is about spirit, expression, and imperfections. Older artists tend to lose their vocal range. Imperfect? Of course. It’s still rock and roll to me.
NW: Future plans?
NL: That’s a good question. We will continue to write and record, and hopefully hit the stage after the lizard portal is closed. I’m going to write some more songs with Andrew Hyra (formerly of Billy Pilgrim), and who knows what will come of that. And we are all going to vote with all of our might this November.
Now for the main event!
1. What is your earliest musical memory?
My earliest music memory was listening and enjoying “Little Red Corvette” on the radio at the age of three or four. I also remember the moment when I realized that song had nothing to do with a car.
2. What is your most embarrassing musical moment?
Most embarrassing – High on Stress was debuting a new song called “Postcard that Says Breathe” at Lee’s Liquor Lounge [now closed, RIP, bar in Minneapolis]. The stage was very narrow, so I was practically stepping on the kick drum while I sang. Just before the guitar solo I nailed the guitar tuning pegs on the cymbal stand. It was our “High on Stress shreds” moment.
3. What do you like and dislike about touring?
Touring is amazing. I absolutely love it. The best part is hanging out and laughing with your friends every night in a new city. Developing new inside jokes, and enjoying the music and food in each place. Your band gets tighter every night as well. The worst part is the Rodeway Inn in Madison, Wisconsin.
4. What is your favorite record store, anywhere in the world?
I love so many record stores. I’m going to cheat, and name a few.
Budget Music & Video In Minot, North Dakota – My record collection started here.
Amoeba – Los Angeles;
HiFi Hair and Records – Minneapolis;
Mill City Sound – Hopkins, Minnesota;
Down in the Valley – Golden Valley, Minnesota; and
Cheapo – the original in Uptown [Minneapolis].
5. Other than your own music, what is your favorite song or album of all time? Why?
Hard question, but it would be somewhere between the Beatles’ “Revolver” and Prince’s “Purple Rain” or “Sign o’ the Times.” Best song — “Day in the Life.”
6. You wake up in a seedy Berlin hotel room with no recollection of the past 96 hours. Who is your first call?
First call – My wife and kids. I would follow that up by punching “nearest coffee shop” in my Googler.
Finally, if any of this has caused you to contemplate buying something from High on Stress, Friday, May 1 (or June 5, July 3) is your day. Bandcamp is waiving their revenue share, so all the money will go to the band. You know what to do.
ABOUT CHAD WERNER
- Lead-In Portrait/Selfie Courtesy of Nick Leet and Nick’s cat, Sheila E.
- Band Photo Courtesy of Davin Brandt
- Album Cover Courtesy of High on Stress