Richmond-based psychedelic indie trio Nancy Raygun bring their first EP into a quarantined world with the hope of spreading happiness through music, even in trying times.
“Late Nights” opens with the sound of waves crashing on a beach, transporting you to the waterside, sand between your toes. When the whispering vocals start — a voice singing, “Lose track of time, every night / Wish you were here to stay” — you could just as easily be alone, driving down a moonlit road. Or are you in the crowded living room of a house? When the intro ends, the sounds of Nancy Raygun put you at the center of a DIY concert, slightly squashed and breathless but with enough room to dance and jump along.
Given the band’s history, it makes sense for the title song off Nancy Raygun’s debut EP to take you to many places. It’s the first of four tracks the band has been working on for nearly as long as they’ve been a group. Each song hints at the various influences and shared history of the band, as well as their aspirations for the future.
Nancy Raygun — made up of James Hope, Brett Johnson, and Sidney Blasiol — have been officially together for just over two years. But they’ve known each other for much longer. Hope and Blasiol have been friends since elementary school, and then became stepbrothers. Johnson met Hope when they were ten years old. They decided to move to Richmond to go to VCU, and the band formed shortly after.
“We had been playing over the summer before school started, and then the day we got to school, we were like why not? We’ll just see where it leads, if it leads nowhere it doesn’t matter, we’re still in the same spot we are now,” Johnson said. “Thankfully it led somewhere.”
Late Nights is a selection of the tracks Nancy Raygun have been working on since they formed. Hope says they wrote the last song on the EP, “Used To,” on the second day the band was formed. All four songs have evolved along with the band’s sound and their comfort level with their instruments and each other.
“A big part of [our evolution] is over the past couple years we’ve been getting more together, moving as a unit rather than three people playing the same song,” Hope said. “I’d say the biggest difference is unity amongst us.”
Since Hope, Johnson, and Blasiol all live together, working on music during the pandemic has been a daily affair. With more time at home to write, practice, and record, the band can spend hours fine-tuning and playing with different songs.
“We have no noise complaints in the area, so we can practice for legitimately 12 hours, all night, or whatever we want really,” Johnson said.
Since the pandemic has also put most opportunities for live music on pause, Hope said the band sees Late Nights as their attempt to help people have a good time, even when times are tough.
“Something that is positive in any light, to anyone, it would be really really great,” Hope said. “We just hope that it can reach people and that it has an effect like that — to make people happy.”
Late Nights does just that. A promising EP with an infectious groove, Nancy Raygun at once transports listeners to the places they may want to be and meets them where they are.
All Photos courtesy Nancy Raygun