I meet up with Andrew Gomez and Bevin Fernandez of NRVS LVRS a few days before Christmas. Across town, people are busying themselves by shopping, seasoning food, and decorating their houses. Here, the mood is different. There is positive energy of anticipation as we sit down to speak about the band’s upcoming show at San Francisco’s Independent. “It is our biggest show,” says Gomez. ”I think I can say that hands-down.”

NRVS LVRS released their sophomore album, Electric Dread, in June 2017. It is an album of dark, electric sounds that layer on to of each other to paint deep sonic landscapes. It is very different from their debut album, The Golden West, which was a fusion of different sounds — at one moment fun with jangly guitars, and the next full of heavy electronic noises. “There was a cohesiveness with this album [Electric Dread] that wasn't exactly there with the first one,” says Fernandez, “[On] this second album, it just felt more like the vision became a little clearer.”

“[On the] first record, it's seven songs, because we had seven songs,” jokes Gomez.

Recording Electric Dread felt like the first time they were creating together; Fernandez becoming more comfortable in her creative voice and Gomez not being split between other musical projects. While recording was fun, the process of release was a little less secure. “It's like something private and special is becoming something public,” says Fernandez poignantly. Releasing music independently is, for them, a mixture pleasure and pain. “You spent so much time working on it; it's like someone rejecting you. It's hard not to take it personally sometimes,” offers Gomez.

Soon after releasing Electric Dread, they had an opportunity to go on tour in Europe and jumped at the chance. The short tour saw the band making stops in Austria, Germany, Poland, Croatia, and more. “Sixteen shows over three weeks...more shows than we did in the last two years!” says Gomez with a hearty chuckle.

Fernandez and Gomez share stories from tour, and the memories seem so fresh you can touch them. The time in Halle when they had to contend with a drunken sound engineer at a packed venue. The time in Munich when they arrived to find nothing set up. And then there was the beautiful night in Leipzig, where they spent all night connecting with new fans until “2 or 3 in the morning.”

There were highs, and there were lows — however, whenever the band experienced an extreme low, there always seemed to be a serendipitous moment to keep them going. Fernandez shares a story of one such time in Linz, Austria. “We had been driving for hours...and we were just like, these balls of stress,” she explains. “I was just like, 'Fuck, how am I going to go do a show right now?'” They managed to do the show, and it turned into one of the highlights. “It was beautiful,” she says. “It was this intimate living room concert, and it was just magical.”

“Those shows came at just the right moment,” re-affirms Gomez.

Being on tour in Europe sometimes made them think about the music scene back in San Francisco. A scene that has come under criticism in recent years for not being as vibrant as it once was. This is not a recent thought: NRVS LVRS wrote about changes in the city back in 2014, on "City Lights," at a time when some of their friends were being pushed out of San Francisco. At first, Fernandez and Gomez found themselves down, but have since been galvanized to make the change they want to see.

“Ever since we wrote that record, we've been discovering more local bands,” says Gomez. “It made us go to more shows, made us reach out to other bands, [and] for myself, be more vocal.” Gomez and Fernandez have taken to supporting the scene in the best way they know how: Being present at shows, and shouting about the music they love.

A few days after our interview I’m at Hemlock Tavern, and I see Fernandez and Gomez by the bar — they are there creating the scene they want by supporting local musician Florie Maschmeyer and her band Moondaze.

While Gomez respects that highlighting the problems faced by musicians is important, he explains how these articles can have a detrimental impact on the community, especially in a city like San Francisco — a city that has a constant flow of new people arriving. “The problem with those articles is that, let's say you're somebody that just moved to San Francisco, or even someone who just hasn't gone to a show in a while, you're reading this article: ‘The San Francisco music scene is dead.’ So it's actively discouraging people from going out...There's got to be a way to write that that says, ‘Look, there's still artists.' There's a great punk scene, garage scene, electronic scene. There's still artists out there...trying to put art out," says Gomez. “You can complain about it, or you can do something about it. [There are] Forces bigger than us, so we've got to just do our best to be part of the scene that we want to see,” he says.

I ask what music fans can do to support, and they mention the importance of the little things — how simply saying, “Hey, great job,” after a show can have a big impact, letting artists know what they are doing is appreciated. Fernandez mentions how seeing bands from the Bay Area succeed motivates her to do better as well. “Someone's fighting the good fight, and they're winning,” she says enthusiastically.

We speak about their plans for their upcoming show at the Independent, and it feels like it is just as much about giving back as it is about performing. “We're really super excited for the show at the Indy,” says Fernandez. “We feel really appreciative that they're willing to have smaller, local bands coming and playing. So we're really stoked. We love the Indy; we love the sound there, it's fucking fantastic.” The band has been working on visuals and guest musicians to make it as big as possible.

The pair joke around about how Fernandez, who grew up performing ballet, can get “really into it” while performing. “The funnest shit to me [is] getting to perform,” says Fernandez. “It's going to be a really fun homecoming.”

While the current focus is on this Saturday’s show at the Independent, for 2018 NRVS LVRS are looking forward to releasing more music, growing as a band, and taking their sound in a new direction. “I think we feel like dancing in 2018,” says Gomez. “[There has been] a lot of heaviness in our lives in the last handful of years, and it's to try to shake,” explains Fernandez.

“I'm going to go out tonight and just dance and cry,” says Gomez. Dancing and crying at the Independent sounds like the perfect tonic to start the year — just make sure you bring some tissues and say hello to the band at the end.

The Bay Bridged Presents: NRVS LVRS, Abbot Kinney, MANICS
The Independent
January 13, 2018
9pm, $12 (21+)

Tags: