Next To None Interview
NEXT TO NONE is a US-based Progressive Metal band. NTN features the son of Legendary drummer Mike Portnoy, Max Portnoy on drums as well, Derrick Schneider on guitar, Kris Rank on bass, and Thomas Cuce on keyboards and lead vocals.
As soon as the band was formed in 2013, they haven’t spared a minute from performing to composing music. The band since then released a massive debut album, “A Light In The Dark”, in 2015 through Inside Out Music and produced by Mike Portnoy.
Next To None are working on their second Album, “PHASES”, which they describe as “a combination of odd time signatures with brutal guitars, pounding driving drums, melodic choruses, hardcore vocals and so much more”. Check out our interview with the up-and-coming progressive band below.
Next To None Interview
Hello Next To None! This is Antoine Kanaan from Metal-Bell. Thanks for taking the time for this interview!
First off, how did you guys end up meeting each other and forming the band?
Well, everyone lives within a 10-minute radius of one another. Everyone but Thomas went to the same school and had classes together. As we got older, we began playing instruments on our own and it was sort of natural to play together because we were already friends. We met Thomas a little later around age 12 and he fit right in with us too.
How did you come up with the band name?
Nobody really has a definite answer for this one because we basically wrote a bunch of random names on paper and went crossing out the ones we didn’t like until we settled for Next To None.
How do you juggle between school and touring? And does age complicate the touring process?
Thomas is home-schooled, and therefore he basically just does his work whenever, although he technically graduated this year. Max is cyber-schooled and does basically the same thing, just does it when he chooses. Kris is in traditional public schooling still and it’s a real challenge to meet deadlines, but the teachers have been great at modifying/cutting out the busy work. Age definitely complicates touring. First off, booking hotels is difficult because most require to be over 21. At most venues we end up wearing black x’s on our hands and sometimes we can’t go in except for moving gear and performing.
Do you plan on continuing as musicians or will you pursue a career in something else?
We plan on continuing as musicians, I think we all agree that it’s something we all enjoy a ton. If Next To None disbanded, an alternative to musician for some of us could be audio engineer or producer, aside from starting another project.
How has touring been so far?
Touring is the best part of it all. First, the cons include long drives and cheap fast food accompanied by little sleep, but every once in a while we’ll get a decent meal or catering and the long drives include hours of music listening, so basically, drink some caffeine and keep going while our youth keeps us healthy. But, touring is so much fun. It’s really the crowd. Online support is one thing, but having people turn up to see you is an entirely different experience. The energy that you feel from an excited audience is toxic, it just swarms you. It becomes the only thing you feel while you’re up there. Sometimes you get lost in the moment and realize you’re on autopilot, and that’s also really cool. So touring has been wonderful.
Tell us a bit about the production process of A Light in the Dark, the songwriting and recording process.
ALITD was written over a long span of time. The songs on that album were all composed when we were between ages 12/13 and 14/15. We finally tracked those songs in August of 2014 at ages 15/16. Note that ALITD came out nearly a year after literally at the end of June 2015. Songwriting starts out instrumentally. It stems from someone’s idea and is a group effort to improve and mold the song into its final form. They were written by us, and just us. Recording was a month of 10-hour days in the studio. We’d go in around 1 – 2 pm and leave around midnight, then stay up playing video games together until the sun rose. We lived on inverted schedules and often didn’t see our family unless they were up late. It was different really analyzing our songs from a listening perspective, which is where Mike really helped us. We spent a lot of time together doing it the conventional way, and it was a lot of fun.
Who’s the principal songwriter and/or lyricist?
As mentioned before, the music was a collaboration from everyone. The lyrics however, were all written by Thomas this time around. That will probably change in the future though.
What’s your favorite song off of the album? The hardest to play?
Max’s favorite is You Are Not Me, and he thinks the hardest to play is Control.
Thomas’ favorite song is either Control or Legacy, and also thinks the hardest to play is Control
Kris’ favorite song is Blood On My Hands, and thinks the hardest to play is Edge Of Sanity.
Who are your influences as musicians, and what music do you usually listen to?
As musicians, we’re influenced a lot by nu metal and progressive metal acts, as well as some metalcore and djent. We tend to listen to those styles and often find ourselves listening to the likes of Slipknot, Dream Theater, Korn, Periphery, Linkin Park, Mudvayne, Trivium, and I See Stars, but then also like rock acts such as Shinedown and Alter Bridge.
You were recording demos recently. Tell us a bit more about them.
We tracked 3 demos in February and they were basically the first three songs we finished in the process of writing the second album. Stylistically, they feature heavier sections than the material on ALITD and are in lower tunings, however the melodies are stronger too in many places. They are some of the shorter tracks and are potentially radio friendly.
What can we expect from the second album?
Expect a statement. We want to prove ourselves as more than some “kid musicians”. There’s a cloud surrounding us sometimes composed both of cries of “nepotism” and riding the Portnoy name, and our young age. There will always be negative feedback, but we want to be more than “Portnoy’s kid’s band”. The album is all around heavier, just as technical, if not way more, and is actually reflective of our age and ability.
Does being a “Rock Star” live up to your expectations? What would you tell other aspiring musicians?
Being a musician is great, but having some special status is not the objective. We get amazing opportunities and it’s absolutely great. To other aspiring musicians: work hard, play harder and always stay humble. There are so many jerks and big egos in music, and there’s no need for it.
If you could open up for any band, regardless of whether they’re active at the moment, who would it be?
For fun, it’d be funny to open for The Beatles or The Beach Boys and then scare the crap out of their massive audience. But seriously, it’d be awesome to tour with Slipknot. Their shows are always great and have amazing crowds.
Finally, would you come and play in Lebanon?
When we’re big enough to tour overseas and make it work logistically, sure.
Thanks for your time! The Metal-Bell Team and I wish you the best of luck!
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