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Namen Namen making name for themselves

Local group set to celebrate new EP at The Brass Rail



Published March 23, 2022

March 2020 probably wasn’t the best time to start a band, but things seem to be working out for local group Namen Namen.

Forming at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the foursome have released singles on streaming services, completed a recent tour, and are preparing for the release of their first studio EP on April 1, Namen Namen.

“The biggest difference is these (songs) are actually live,” guitarist Kellen Baker said about the upcoming EP, which will be available at their live shows, Welcome Back Records, Wooden Nickel Records locations, and on streaming services.

Baker actually recorded Namen Namen’s previous efforts, including “Riding in the Wind,” “I Wanna Fite U,” “Jam Crib,” and “Big Brute Prison Blues.” And while it was nice to get their music out there, recording in a studio was a whole new ballgame.

“(The singles) were kind of self-made on (recording software) GarageBand, and we recorded them in this basement,” lead songwriter and vocalist Dylan Record said with the group gathered in the basement at Baker’s home.

Hitting the Studio

This time around, the foursome that includes Ron Record on drums and Zara McCord on bass, were able to get studio time when a childhood friend, Tommy Cantin, invited them to Nashville, Tennessee, to record them for a school project at Blackbird Academy.

Limited to a four-hour session, many of the other students at the academy aimed to get a song or two recorded, but Namen Namen was able to get six in on Aug. 1.

“He was really passionate about us and liked our music,” drummer Ron Record said of Cantin. “So, he really wanted to use the most of his time in the studio as well.”

And the band was in no rush to leave either.

“We were like, ‘Oh, shoot, our first time in a real recording studio. We should make the most of it,’ ” Baker said.

“Dylan (Record) sang all the vocals live, everything was in one take, except for maybe some backing vocals,” he added. “Due to the limitations in (my basement), we would have to kind of record the band, then the vocals, and then anything else. Due to all of that, I don’t know that those (songs) are representative of our live sound. I think the EP very much is.”

Signing with a Label

After recording the album, PJ Sauerteig out of Chicago signed them to his Massif Records.

“Even living in Chicago, I had heard rumblings that Namen Namen were making a name for themselves in the Fort,” Sauerteig said in an email response. “I DM’d them on Instagram, set up a FaceTime call to say hi and meet everyone, and after I drove to Fort Wayne to see them play at The Brass Rail, I’d seen all I needed to see.”

The Fort Wayne native founded Massif while attending Columbia University in 2012 and performs as Slow Dakota, saying he’s always “revered the Fort Wayne music scene.”

“They’re playful and wry, but so deeply committed to the music, to their craft and to the lineage of influences that they draw inspiration from,” he said of Namen Namen. “Goofy, but also dead serious. Seeing them play live, it’s impossible not to feel that wonderful tension and electricity.”

Local fans will get a couple opportunities to see the live show. They’ll be at the Tiger Room at Welch’s Ale house on Friday, March 25, the same day the single “The One I Love Most” is released alongside a video directed by Dylan Record. They will then celebrate the EP’s release with a show at The Brass Rail on Friday, April 1.

“We’re bringing in the Toeheads from Detroit, so that will be fun for everyone,” Baker said of the show at the Brass Rail. “Incas will also be there.”

Crash Course in Touring

Described as garage rock/proto-punk, the college students completed a 10-date tour over winter break that took them to such cities as Detroit; Cleveland; Albany, New York; and Louisville.

And they learned quickly that life on the road isn’t always glamorous, especially amid a pandemic.

“It was like COVID numbers were beginning to go back up, so we had tests in the car,” said Ron Record, who also does the band’s artwork. “We were all paranoid, because we knew that once one of us got (sick), we were done.”

However, they were fortunate to stay healthy, although the same couldn’t be said for the acts they were supposed to be performing with.

“Not a single bill on the tour stayed the same,” Baker said. “From the day it started to the day it ended, a band would drop off like every day.”

“They’d either drop off, or they’d have to improvise,” McCord added. “Some people would have to go solo or go with a duet.”

And a fender bender once the returned to the Hoosier State was the cherry on top.

“It was a good learning experience,” Dylan Record said of the tour. “It taught us that we can’t control what happens on the road.”

However, any hardships or stresses were well worth it.

“This last year, we’ve just been trying to play out of town a lot of expand our boundaries,” Baker said.

And those boundaries are likely to only expand.

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