Cruz Sentinel - circa 2005
Nate Lieby is a musical enigma. He is punctual,
a rarity among musicians, grew up listening to NWA
and Metallica, and earns a living as a software
Somehow, despite countless hours of peering into
computer screens, Lieby has managed to transcend
nerdiness. And his band, 300 Pounds - a cross
between Violent Femmes, They Might be Giants and
Jack Johnson - is the proof.
"Our music is hard to describe," said
Lieby. "We're rock. We usually say eclectic
rock. We are palatable to a lot of people, but
the music still has our own flare to it."
When 300 Pounds bring their brand of nerd-rock
to Britannia Arms Saturday night, get ready for
a band who simply loves to play.
"The main reason we get out and play is
that it is damn fun to just go out and rock,"
said Lieby. "We enjoy playing music. We enjoy
playing the music we bring together as a band."
For Lieby, who experienced some musical success
in Santa Cruz with the ska band The Sneaky Creekans,
300 Pounds began as a solo act.
? less ?
After recording Pounds' album in his bedroom,
and playing some small shows on his own, Lieby
had a change of heart.
"300 Pounds was going to be a solo project
where I didn't have to worry about anyone but
myself. And then through real life - and trying
to do it all alone, I realized that you need a
band. And you need to have some sort of set crew
to go and do it with," said Lieby.
The result of Lieby's realization is a three-man
jam band who flail poppy-intelligence with nine-to-five
Lieby plays guitar and sings vocals. Drums are
manned by Jon Moriconi, an engineer by day who
also played guitar in the Creekans. Bass is throttled
by John "Pecos" Davis, who pays the
bills by working in the mortgage industry.
300 Pounds' self-titled debut is a collection
of smooth eccentricities that play like the soundtrack
to Lieby's coming-of-age. The album, which began
as a hip-hop experiment as the Creekans were fading,
developed into a mixed bag - part techno funk,
part Zappa-rock and part acoustic folk.
According to Lieby, the album is a collection
of music, "focused on human interaction,
life events and whatnot."
Standout tracks, "Timeline," "Somet"
and "Hush" are quirky windows into Lieby's
"What Can't Be Found" weaves unplugged
guitar hooks into a slick lament over a lost love.
This track is timeless, pulling listeners into
the torment of heartache and loneliness, showing
Pounds' serious side.
"Got Nothing" moves at an energetic
pace, but in a mellow surf-rock way. The track
is silky, a party tune rivaling Ben Harper or
fusion-rock icons Sublime.
Pounds' is moving away from their acoustic origins
on their new album, according to Lieby.
"The new album is called Metamorphosis,"
explained Lieby. "Because originally the
band was all me. And now, this record has gone
through a collaborative process with all the band
members. The result is a more rocky feel, more
similar to our live shows."
Judging by demos off "Metamorphosis,"
Pounds are definitely changing musically. The
tracks "Dunno" and "Butcher"
are infectious and catchy, the kind of songs that
bring head-bobbing as a reflex.
"Royalty" is thrash-rock. Aggressive
guitar riffs gel with reverb a la 311, making
this track a hip-hop fusion party anthem.
For Pounds, playing live represents a climactic
opportunity to share life experience with an audience.
"Performing live is a really cathartic experience,"
said Lieby. "Inspiration can strike anywhere.
The idea for a song could have been something
you wrote down on a napkin. And you go home and
let it stew and make an entire song out of something
you just thought of and now you are performing
300 Pounds is a band that thinks outside the
cubicle. They are the rock equivalent to the film
"Office Space." At the Britannia Arms
Saturday night, come ready to enjoy local independent
musicians, playing music for its own sake.
"Playing music is this great feeling, this
endorphin rush. Just to be out there 'rockin-out'
doin' your thing," said Lieby