Interview with Theresa Jeane of The Nearly Deads

Nashville is known for its great musical history, mostly involving country music. But it also has a burgeoning rock scene, which gave birth to alternative rock band The Nearly Deads. Since the release of their 2011 eponymous debut EP, they’ve gained a loyal following who lovingly call themselves “zombies” based off their popular video “Never Look Back.” This past May, the band released their third EP, Revenge of the Nearly Deads. Frontwoman Theresa Jeane chats with Genre is Dead about the new EP, what the band has learned over the years, and why Chuck Palahniuk is an inspiration.

Genre is Dead: Your new EP, Revenge of the Nearly Deads, came out recently and is getting a lot of love from fans. Can you tell me more about it?

Theresa Jeane: We really wanted to make an EP full of powerful, uplifting songs. We’ve been through a lot as a band over the years, both personally and professionally. Overcoming our obstacles and ridding ourselves of negativity was a big part of Revenge.

GID: A lot of your music is about empowerment and positivity, something we all desperately need right now. How do you keep the positive juices flowing during these trying times?

TJ: What really inspires me is the more we travel and learn about others, the more I realize we are all the same. We all go through the same types of struggles. I feel a responsibility to stay positive and show others who may be going through a hard time that it gets better and they can achieve their dreams. We also want people to know that there’s someone out there who cares about them and music truly provides a support system for anyone who needs it.

GID: You guys recently finished up a tour with Eyes Set to Kill and Bad Seed Rising. What was it like being out on the road with them?

TJ: We had an absolute blast on the last tour. I love going out with other female fronted bands. It was also interesting because Eyes Set to Kill are veterans and have been touring for years together, while Bad Seed is just starting out. We’re somewhere in between, so I think we all had a lot to learn from each other.

GID: You’re actually classically trained in voice. When you started getting into music did you always know you wanted to be in a rock band?

TJ: I grew up in a very musical household and started playing the piano when I was very young. I took lessons and wrote my own music. I started writing lyrics in high school, but I never wanted to be in a rock band. I still don’t know how I got lucky enough to do this.  I originally formed a Dresden Dolls style band and was very into musical theater and drama. However, I kept getting exposed to more and more punk rock. I needed to get out from behind that piano and try to be a front woman. I had several small failed attempts at bands before I met the guys and formed The Nearly Deads, and the rest is history.

GID: In the past, you mention being a fan of Chuck Palahniuk. What’s your favorite book by him?

TJ: I love Invisible Monsters. I love that there’s a female protagonist and it’s all about breaking down your life and building it back up. Lullaby is another favorite. A big theme in his work for me is he explores the absolute gutters of human life. It’s all about hitting bottom and realizing you’re still alive at the end of it and you’ve got to make it all work somehow.

GID: Does his work ever find its way into your music or has it inspired you in any way?

TJ: There are definitely Fight Club lyrical references in our song “Changeover.” The part where the Narrator discovers who he truly is and everything just stops and drops out was a big inspiration. The world as he knew it completely changed in one moment. For me, I had a similar moment early in our career. One day I suddenly realized the music industry was not at all what I expected it to be. The things we go through as a band are rarely talked about, although more bands are coming forward and breaking the industry silence about how they’ve been victimized or taken advantage of.

GID: Why is it important that more artists speak out about what’s going on?

TJ: It’s important because it lets the fans know what’s going on. Many people wonder why you haven’t toured in a while or why your album is taking so long to come out, or even why you may be choosing to crowdfund. People relate to musicians who are honest and authentic and that’s what we’ve strived to be from day one. The more bands we tour with the more we see the same things happening over and over. Ultimately, the fans have the true power and if they love your music they will support you no matter what. I have learned a lot, but the fact that I can still go on stage and sing a song like “Revenge” every night is my version of success.

GID: How have you guys changed from when you put out your first release in 2010?

TJ: We’ve definitely gotten more polished and are more open minded to try new things. We started out not wanting any kind of programming or electronic elements in the music and were very focused on being an authentic grunge band. However, with my classical training and more pop influenced voice, we were constantly getting compared to other bands. We’ve really had to carve out our own brand of polished grunge and I think we’re finally hitting our stride as a band with this EP.

GID: What’s next for The Nearly Deads now that the EP is out?

TJ: We’ve got a few festivals lined up this summer and are working on booking another tour in the fall. Stay tuned!

The Nearly Deads are Theresa Jeane, Steven Tobi, Kevin Koelsch, Javier Garza Jr, and Josh Perrone. Revenge of the Nearly Deads is out now. You can catch the band live at Rockfest in Cadott, WI and MusicFoodBeer Festival in Nashville, TN.

Ashley Perez Hollingsworth

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on AXS, The Crypt 1331, Chicago Innerview, New City, The Millions, and Reality-Comics. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Marilyn Manson, and Green Day.

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