Eddie Tamanini can barely listen to the early work of his band Nothing But a Nightmare. It’s not that the songs were bad … they simply weren’t personal. No diss.
“I wasn’t emotionally invested,” said the ‘19 Neshaminy alum. “I just wanted to try and write a catchy song.”
Since the group’s debut album Nostalgia was released in February 2019, the group – comprised of lead vocalist Tamanini and current Neshaminy students David Scott (keys), Ryan Scott (guitar), Dom Vacca (drums) and Clayton Malaney (bass) – NBN has come a long way from singing about “Monday” and a “Girl from Scandinavia.”
Its sophomore album Kleptomania, released Sept. 18, is edgier (Tamanini describes it as “dystopian city cyberpunk”) and encompasses mature themes like mental health and relationships. The 10 tracks draw from a slew of influences, from Post Malone and Charlie Puth to Boston and Van Halen, each boasting its own unique flair.
“All the songs on this album are so different in their own way. I don’t think there’s one song that sounds like another one,” said Tamanini. “I love Blink-182, but you listen to so many Blink songs after a while and you’re like, ‘Oh, damn they all sound the same.’ I like to change the style.”
Kleptomania was in the works for over a year, but NBN scratched most of the songs it planned to include, replacing them with tracks penned during COVID-19. One such example is “Feel It Anymore,” which Tamanini wrote in March at the start of the pandemic.
“It’s a real power ballad about mental health,” he said. “All of us have had some things with that, and it’s cool to speak on it.”
Prior to COVID-19, Tamanini and David had the creative process down to a science. Both would brainstorm ideas on their own, and then David would head to Tamanini’s in-house studio, where they’d flesh out the songs and record. Although stay-at-home orders made this impossible, the dynamic duo made it work.
“I would send some rough stuff, bounce it off of Eddie, who’s got a way better studio than me. He would put it through his equipment, make it sound good, then send it to Daniel Jude [of Electric Temple Studios in Florida],” said David. “Music is bouncing off of everywhere. It’s way more steps than it was before, but I think the finished product is really good. I’m really happy with this album. I’ve been listening to it a lot.”
Listeners can largely thank David for the rock influences heard on Kleptomania.
“I wanted that desperately,” he said. “I was like, ‘We need to get live drums on a couple of these songs.’ I was begging and begging.”
Still, a softer side of the teen is heard in “Curtain,” which David named as his proudest musical achievement. The lyrics, which reflect on Center City streetlights and Pennsylvania basements, evoke emotion and memories of years’ past – “When it’s over, and the curtains close, and the friends we had forever are the ones we used to know.”
“There were three weeks left on production before we had to start promoting this and we needed a couple more songs. I was sat down at the piano and I plunked out this chord progression and wrote it in two sittings,” he said. “I’m so happy with the way it turned out. Lyrically, I think it’s the best song I’ve ever written.”
For Tamanini, “Problems Being Cool” is a standout, and a song for which he tested out a new – unconscious – writing process.
“I had this dream. I was in my buddy Dom’s truck, which is weird. And this girl said to me, ‘Did you hear your band’s new song yet?,’ ” he said, reflecting on how the girl then played the unheard track on a radio. “She looks at me and is like, ‘Go write it,’ so I woke up and ran to the studio. It’s like an anthem to any nerd that could never get a girlfriend. That’s me, and I love that. I think it’ll really speak to someone.”
To celebrate the release of Kleptomania (in addition to Tamanini’s dreaded 20th birthday), Dog & Bull Brew & Music in Croydon hosted a small, socially distant party, complete with specialty cocktails inspired by NBN’s music and an acoustic set by Tamanini.
NBN’s first full-band show will be on Halloween night at the Kelly Center in Havertown. The number of guests will be strictly limited due to COVID-19, but, after a dreary summer of no live shows, the guys will take what they can get.
“A show’s a show. With everything closing down, we’re super happy to be playing again, especially on Halloween,” said David. “I’m coming in costume. I don’t know about Eddie, but I wanna be like a Cobra Kai skeleton. I have the body type for that.”
According to Tamanini, NBN had a whopping 33 shows booked and then canceled this year. While there is still much uncertainty, especially for the entertainment industry, he’s taking it one day at a time.
“I’m just going with the flow, and whatever comes our way as a result of this album, as a result of us just trying to book gigs, that’s what’s gonna happen. We’re going to still work our butts off in the most safe way we possibly can,” Tamanini said. “Everyone in the band has belief in what we do. We know for a fact we can do it, and do it on a national level somewhere.”
Visit nbnband.com for updates on Nothing But a Nightmare, to listen to Kleptomania and purchase new merchandise, including facemasks and Band-Aids.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org