An Interview With The Songwriter/Producer Super Trio, NHD!
Posted On 03 Oct 2017
Meet the songwriter and producer super-trio, NHD! The Texas three piece, comprised of Salim Nourallah, Billy Harvey and Alex Dezen, will release their debut LP ‘And The Devil Went Up To Portland’ on October 20th. The album “nods their love for the Beatles” (KUTX), with all three members writing and singing on the record.
Each successful in their own careers, having worked for acts including Rhett Miller, Bob Schneider, the Dixie Chicks, Patty Griffin and even Justin Bieber, NHD was born out a spontaneous series of freewheeling and collaborative live tours. Equal parts humor and heart, the album showcases the infectious lyrical wit and undeniable chemistry of NHD’s three kindred frontmen, who, according to the Austin NPR station “have the depth and polish you would expect to find in long-running bands.”
Follow them here: http://www.nhdmusic.com/
Learn more about NHD in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find the band? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it?
Salim: I just finished watering my plants. The music playing is only in my head. Billy is probably in Nashville tending to his daughter, Alex is in Los Angeles probably tending to his hair.
What are some words you would use to describe 2017? How differently did you all approach this year?
Salim: Words to describe my life? Peaceful, mega-productive, exciting, fun. Words for the world? Disturbing, scary, frustrating, tragic. Salim: I’m taking a bit of a break from playing all the time this year. I’m still playing shows but I’ve dialed the frequency back considerably. It’s been nice. What have been some highlights of the year? Salim: Finishing my 7th solo record, Somewhere South of Sane. It’s going to be a double LP out sometime next year. Producing debut records for Sleepy Zuhoski, Xuan & Stu Dicious. Being involved in growing this fledging record label, Palo Santo. I’ve never felt better about the work I’m involved with. It’s magnificent!
Looking back on how you all decided to form this band, what do you think first made you all think you could do this and make music together?
Salim: I just love hanging out with Billy & Alex. They are two of my favorite songwriters on the planet but we also have tons of fun together. It’s as simple as that for me. If we have something on the books it means I get to see them. That always makes me happy.
How did you all first meet each other and come up with your band name? What other band names were you considering?
Salim: The band name is simply short for our last names. N (Nourallah), H (Harvey), D (Dezen). The only debate was over the order. I didn’t want to go first but Billy & Alex insisted. I wanted it to be DHN. That sounds like some sort of pharmaceutical company, right? Salim: We never considered having another name. I think all the great band names have already kind of been taken.
How do you think your name sums up what you are and the kind of music that you make?
Salim: It perfectly sums up what we are because it’s our very own names we’ve all been living with for a combined 138 years! We also have a pretty kick-ass logo. Have you seen it? Does it sum up the kind of music we make? Well, we have the unique situation where all three of us sing & write songs. So Nourallah, Harvey, Dezen lets you know we’re going to be some sort of Crosby, Stills, Nash thing without the chest hair, sideburns & drug busts.
How do you think you have all been influenced by being from your home in Texas?
Salim: Alex is from New York so I’m sure Texas has only influenced him through his friendship with me! Billy & I happened to both be born in Illinois within a few months of each other. How we both landed in Texas is a Ripley’s believe it or not situation. I love Texas to bits & also want to simultaneously cradle it in my arms & strangle it. The politics of this state are beyond frustrating. I was raised in El Paso from the age of 3 so I’m basically a lifelong Texan. What is the music scene like there? Salim: In Dallas, where I live, we have so many incredible but undiscovered artists. We live in the shadow of Austin. I’m doggedly loyal when it comes to Dallas music but it’s been heartbreaking to see all the careers that should’ve taken off, never take off.
Do you think that it has affected your music?
Salim: Life = Art so, of course.
I am curious to know how all your various previous careers in music have helped you flourish in this group?
Salim: Being a solo artist, being in various bands, having to be a band leader, being a producer & playing hundreds of shows over the years has all definitely contributed. I have a deeper appreciation for how good it is when things really work, when there is serious chemistry happening. In NHD that’s been the case so far & I love it!
Let’s talk about your forthcoming debut album called “And The Devil Went Up To Portland.” What was it like putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you about the process? How long did it take?
Salim: We spent only a week tracking it at our friend Martie Maguire’s studio outside of Austin. We wrote 3 songs on the spot & recorded them right after the last lyric was in place. “Ballad of the Patient Man” was actually written in the car while we were on the way from Austin to Sana Antonio for a show. We recorded it the very next day. The record was mixed back at my studio in Dallas over the course of a few months. We also did some sporadic additional tracking there. Actually, “I Sent A Postcard” & “You Thought You’d Be In Heaven” were both added as afterthoughts. Billy & I had demoed each of them on our own & then we ran them through the NHD “blender,” so to speak. We liked what they did for the record & added them both.
Can you elaborate on how this album is a nod to your love for the Beatles?
Salim: Well, the album isn’t necessarily a nod to our love of the Beatles but there are things about our record that make me think of the Beatles. I do think they made the mold for “serious music that doesn’t take itself to seriously” & NHD has definitely placed ourselves in that camp. We also have three lead singer/front-man guys, just like those guys. The only song on our record that sounds overtly “Beatlesque” is “Ballad of A Patient Man.”
What was the inspiration for it all?
Salim: All the songs came from different places. For me the inspiration behind this record was my friendship with Billy & Alex. I love making music with them & making this record was a great way to do something creative together.
Now that the summer is almost over, what was something fun or exciting that this band did or tried? Did you get a chance to play out live at all?
Salim: We had a great little Texas tour at the end of May. It’s the 1st time Billy, Alex & I have played a full band show with our drummer, John Dufilho, & our keyboard maestro, Richard Martin. It was awesome!
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
Salim: I love all of it equally. I think it’s really important to balance studio work with recording. Just doing one or the other is a drag. Playing songs for people & getting to know how they experience them is vital.
Who are you all listening to these days?
Salim: Metronomy (a recent obsession), Neil Finn, The Clientele, Kings of Convenience, Justin Currie, John Butler (from Deisel Park West), JP Nataf, Billy Harvey
What artists have continued to inspire you and your music?
Neil Finn has always been a massive inspiration for me. He’s the epitome of an artist who has continued to remain relevant & vital as he’s gotten older. Nick Lowe is also another one of my musical heroes.
Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
Salim: Hmmm… Tchad Blake, Nick Lowe, Neil Finn!
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music? What do you hope is the message of your songs?
Salim: Peace, presence, sing-alongs in their car or shower of preference. Love is the reason for all of this. We have all been put here for a very brief moment of time, surrounded by all of these incredible things. Music, art, nature, food. But then there are all of these distractions as well. Things designed to constantly stop us from truly being in each moment.
What advice would you give to a young band just getting started today?
Salim: Don’t quit your day job! Seriously though…you have no control whatsoever on whether the world will love you enough to allow you to earn a living playing music. Find something else you can do on the side to help you survive while you pursue music.