Listen: New Group NARAH Electrifies ILM’s Music Scene

NARAH is a grunge-punk-rock band from Wilmington whose stunts amplify concerts. The group consists of Evan Feus, Dawson Newman, Luke Vanderwoude and Jordan Simmons. (Courtesy picture)

WILMINGTON — Concert season has officially arrived with more national acts touring the region on a frequent basis. But Wilmington’s music scene goes beyond the headliners. Local musicians add wit and liveliness, with many performing on a weekly basis, sometimes even for free.

Port City Daily has launched a five-part series to bring local sounds to viewers in support of new artists hitting the scene. “Listen Up” will feature five artists who have just started playing local clubs and venues, performing a variety of styles from surf rock to soft rock, indie to garage pop, to classic rock. and grungy.

READ PART 1: New group Free Drinks energizes ILM music scene

Next: NARAH, a four-man grunge-rock band that came together in 2019. Performing together for more than two years, the group aims to “bring something unique to the industry,” explained the vocalist and guitarist Evan Fires.

“I was puzzled over the name of the group for our first few months of practice together. I thought of my ancestry and searched online for Scandinavian terms and came across the word ‘Narah’ – Scottish for ‘Queen wolves,'” Fes said.

With Fires, NARAH consists of Dawson Newman on bass, Luke Vanderwoude on drums and Jordan Simmons on guitar.

The band began playing to smaller crowds at the basement Basement House — a private home in the New Center neighborhood that often hosted live music for the college crowd (it called it quits in 2019).

Former NARAH drummer Nick Tsaousis left just before Covid at the end of February 2020. After his departure, Fes met Vanderwoude – who played with CANCEL. Vaderwoude’s heavier style suited the band’s musical tastes.

NARAH draws inspiration from the nu metal and punk-rock genres – and bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Green Day and Nirvana. The band became known for their “in your face” performances, Vanderwoude described. It is not uncommon for them to do stunts during shows.

During the band’s St. Patrick’s Day show in Barzarre, Fes climbed to the top of a 12-foot wooden fence directly behind the stage mid-performance. He is also known for frequent crowd surfing and dancing with his bandmates.

“Evan is just a pure showman,” Vanderwoude said.

“We went from standing and moving lightly to looking really comfortable in our own skin letting the music take over,” Fes added.

Their varied personalities fit together well live, according to Vanderwoude.

“I’m very ADHD,” he says. “Dawson is super laid back, but can explode on any song in a minute. Jordan is really quiet, but he’s probably the most talented musician I’ve ever met.

NARAH created their self-titled debut EP during the 2020 pandemic and released it in the fall of 2021 (available on the band’s Apple Music and Spotify pages). The four-song EP garnered nearly 4,000 listeners across multiple platforms.

The EP was produced by Fes’ friends Paul Ritchie (former Parlor Mob guitarist) and Colin Carhart (friend of Fes) at a recording studio, New Future, nine hours away in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Ritchie and Carhart were able to connect NARAH with studio drummer Sim Cain “because we didn’t have any at the time,” Fes explained (Vanderwoude ended up joining a month later).

Feus writes the majority of NARAH’s songs, though overall the band calls the process a “natural” experience.

“We don’t really have a lack of ideas or difficulty writing our songs, but sometimes we have trouble figuring out what we want to record,” bassist Newman explained.

While recording their new single, “Mesmerator,” the band decided to stay closer to home (they’re all seniors at UNCW). They enlisted Jacob Adams, a local music producer who goes by the name “Blue Karma”, to help them.

“I’ve known Jacob since high school, and there hasn’t been a local producer as good as him to record with. He put so much effort into our song,” Fes added.

Fires sent Adams a video of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s ’90s recording style — he wanted something similar for “Mesmerator.” Adams said capturing NARAH’s heavy sound was a welcoming challenge.

“We experimented with ideas from the video, including recording vocals with multiple mics simultaneously for stereo effect,” Adams said. “It took me over 10 mixes to finally get it right, but my goal was to make ‘Mesmerator’ as heavy as possible, and I think we succeeded.”

The end result is a hard metal sound underpinned by Fes’ harmonious vocals. Although he tips his hat to vintage ’90s grunge, NARAH’s modern twist gives the song depth, originality and relatability, especially in the lyrics.

The song deals with the common struggles of the common man, especially mental health. It highlights taking responsibility instead of just ignoring life’s difficulties, as heard when Fires sings “I’m done playing the victim” in the hook.

“I think both women and men can agree that men’s mental health is very underrated,” Vanderwoude explained. “Just not being able to express your emotions or when you express them not having them recognized is really what we’re trying to address.”

Feus and Vanderwoude spoke about their own struggles and how the song acts as an “avenue” to release frustrations in a positive way.

“That’s why I like it [music] scene so much; we can all relate to each other as long as we love what we do,” Vanderwoude said. “It’s just about directing the bad energy in the right direction and making people happy instead of annoying them.”

The group hopes to bridge the acceptance gap among their fans, creating music that inspires common ground.

“I see kids of all styles, from all walks of life,” Vanderwoude said. “I see frat kids, emo kids, goth kids, and nerdy kids, and everyone’s there just to have fun. In middle school, people are always so bunched up, and in this scene, it’s just a good way to escape your box.

To complement the heavy, dark vibe of the lyrics and instrumentals, the band enlisted friend and local artist Eddie Janosko to create the art for “Mesmerator”. Janosoko’s “old school tattoo” aesthetic appealed to the band. Newman and Fes came up with the idea of ​​featuring “the face of someone being hypnotized,” Fes said.

“They wanted some pulp and crisp text,” Janosko said, “so my mind went to classic cartoons, and although the design is a little rough, I feel like it does get the message across authentically and creatively.”

NARAH will release “Mesmerator” on April 19 on Spotify and Apple Music. This will be the first new material since their 2021 EP.

Booking shows in Wilmington every weekend, NARAH is currently planning a “mini tour” with local band Ridgewood in Wilmington in July. Show locations and dates have yet to be announced, but the group updates its schedule almost daily on Instagram.

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