I think it was 2002 when I picked up the "Something to Believe In" compilation on one of my trips to Montreal. Once I played it at home I couldn't say I was that excited about it, but there was this weird little song at the end of it called "Scratches and Needles" that I liked, for some reason. I hated melodic punk, but this song was too good. I considered it a guilty pleasure. I had heard of the Nils before, but pretty much dismissed them as 'not hardcore' and 'not Genetic Control'. Fast forward a few years, I'm now living in Montreal, and this guy Yannick does a post about the Nils and puts a link to the discography. He sarcastically says they do have other songs than the Scratches and Needles one, but at first listen, I don't agree. That song and it's hooks and vocals have been in my brain for too long, the rest doesn't hold up. Ofcourse, a few weeks later those other songs are creeping into my brain, as well. Around this time Chico posts a link to a Montreal Mirror article written about the band and the suicide of Alex Soria, their singer/guitarplayer. I started to read it, and while I could usually care less about some guy I don't know offing himself, this story really got to me. I have read it many times since. If you have a minute, I highly recommend it. Ever since then, the Nils have grown to be one of my favorite bands of all time. Songs like "In Betweens" or "I am the Wolf" are just plain incredible, and I like the former so much I have actually come to respect horns as musical instruments, which is quite the step for me (coincidentally, Yannicks band Whiskey Trench cover it on their new record). Alex Soria was an incredible songwriter, a tortured soul type of musician (like any good one, really), who had a soulful voice that managed to capture so much emotion, it just grabs me every time I hear it. I don't think I've been able to play a single Nils song without having to hear the entire album. In fact, a random updating of my muxtape is what brought forth yet another late night Nils session and this very blog entry. It also brought me to a video I never knew existed:
If that song didn't convince you, you might not have a soul. If it did, I'm sorry. You might spend many late nights listening to the Nils.
Trivia for the nerds: Carlos Soria played in Electric Vomit, a seminal 1979 Montreal punk band whose EP came out only last year. Alex and Carlos also both played in a band named Chino after the Nils (but I have yet to hear it). The Nils put out their last record on Rock Hotel/Profile, a notorious scam label you may know if you like the Cro-Mags. That's it. Go listen to the Nils. I can't believe you haven't already.