An Interview With Nothing More’s Dan Oliver: “The Scorpion Tail is the biggest, heaviest thing I’ve ever built”

Nothing More Download Festival 2018

Texan heavy music genre-benders Nothing More have long been favourites of ours here at Rock Sins ever since we discovered them back in 2014. With their impending return to UK shores, it was the perfect time for us to air this interview that our features editor Jamie conducted with Nothing More bassist Dan Oliver earlier this year at the 2018 Download Festival. While the early part of the interview concerns some touring that has already taken place, we learned many other things, such as how Dan personally built the band’s unique Scorpion Tail prop, the success of FadeIn:FadeOut, how the Grammy nominations affected them and much more.

This is Jamie from Rock Sins and I’m Here With Dan from Nothing More, How are you doing sir?

Dan: I’m good! I’m good!

Obvious question out the way first, how do you think it went earlier (Nothing More performed on the Zippo Encore stage of the 2018 Download Festival earlier that day)?

Dan: I think we won! You never know whats going to happen in the middle of the day at a massive festival like this but there were people as far as the eye could see so yeah, it was great!

From the crowd it definitely seemed that way too – it was busy when you started and very very busy by the time you finished, people were just charging over.

Dan: It was good – maybe we were mis-advertised and they thought we were someone else *laughs* I think overall it was pretty awesome.

You’ve done double duty today as you also did the performance for Zippo backstage, we were there for that as well so our day has basically been following you around.

Dan: Oh really? How’d we do with that one?
You won that one as well.
Dan: Oh good, that was stressful, using borrowed guitars and mics etc.
Yeah, we heard you guys planning an extra song like five minutes before you went onstage but no-one could tell!
Dan: All our stuff is in such weird tuning it was like, oh, ok, lets see what happens with this random guitar now when we de-tune it two full octaves *laughs*.

Once this is finished, you’re doing a short run of shows with Stone Sour, a few festivals and a few tour shows too.

Dan: Yep, we’ve got I think 7 shows with Stone Sour, a few festivals and a few headline shows as well, and then this whole tour finishes off with Guns N’Roses and Volbeat in Barcelona. You obviously wanna save the best for last quote unquote, but we were all stoked about Download and this is the first week we’ve been out so we were like the biggest thing is at the front, what if the rest is kinda lame? But that guarantees its loaded correctly, which is great.

And then have you got a little break before the Five Finger Death Punch / Breaking Benjamin run kicks off in the states?

Dan: It’s not much, I think we’re home for five days and then we fly to three US festivals and then we’re home for five more and then we’re gone for seven weeks. But we’re stoked to be on the road with Five Finger again and Breaking Ben, we’ve been out with them before as well.

You must have a good relationship with the FFDP guys, this is the second or third big tour you’ve been out with them on.

Dan: I know, I guess we do. Maybe they like taking us out on the road just so they can tell us how much they hate us *laughs*, nah, they’re good dudes. Massive band, we’re all fans and we’re honoured that they asked us to be a part of another massive tour. It’s all outdoor ampitheatres, so it’ll be different to all the tours we’ve done before. We’ll see what happens.

That takes you through to the end of September, is there anything booked up beyond that?

Dan: There’s nothing confirmed but there are going to be things confirmed. We know we’ve got at least a month break which we are going to need, I don’t know what kind of mental state we will be in by the end of that Five Finger tour. Probably just babbling or not talking to each other because we’ve said everything that we could have said under the sun. We’re super happy with everything that is happening though, everyone here in the UK has been so supportive of the new record. We can’t thank everyone enough and thank you for supporting us as well.

You are very welcome. Your setlist choices today were very interesting as you only had half an hour so it was interesting to see what you would pick from the new album. It was very interesting to see you put FadeIn:FadeOut in there, it’s not necessarily an obvious choice but then its a song that seems to resonate with a lot of people in lots of different ways.

Dan: It’s crazy – that’s a song we loved but it’s a deeper cut. We put it as the last track on the record and about a month after we released the record, there were no plans for it to be a single, it was just like a gem kinda thing. Immediately the feedback from that song was overwhelming and I think that says a lot for rock fans right now, it’s cool to see that. It’s cool to see that the singles aren’t necessarily the most popular songs and that you can still put your heart and soul into a full record and that people will listen to it and pick out the good songs. The rep from our label was talking to us about streaming and things like that and it’s our third most popular track on streaming platforms which just blew us all away, we were really pleased.

Your most recent single, Just Say When, I loved the concept around the video. It was very creative, something as simple as an airport lounge which is a place you guys are very familiar with and it’s done something very different with it. How did you guys come up with that or was it something that was pitched to you?

Dan: No it was us *laughs*. Mark came up with the idea for the dancers and then I think I threw out the idea of the airport thing. It felt like the perfect place, when you’re in an airport it is that humdrum of conflicted emotions, you’re not necessarily excited to be there, you’re tired, and then the dancing signifying every relationship at that point. Are you going, are you coming, do you care, do you not, things like that. It was a weird merger of the two and we thought it turned out really well.

Something I’d not realised and given the fact we’ve personally spoken a few times over the years this is very much a miss on my part, I didn’t realise you were personally creating the bands’ “on stage extras” like The Scorpion Tail. It’s amazing stuff, how did you get into doing things like that.

Dan: Thank you *laughs*. I’m not a professional welder or anything, I got into it really for this band. I’ve always kinda been geared more towards the entertainment side of playing live and I’ve always wanted to build things. I grew up racing motorcycles and go-karts, things like that, I like machinery. In the past I tried to build things out of wood but I’m such a bad carpenter I decided it wasn’t for me. “Then a good friend of mine was like Dan you’ve got to learn to weld, you’ll love it”. I had the idea because we’ve had our bass solo, where everyone ends up playing on it, forever, with Johnny and the sticks and everything. That was the first big idea I had was to have something that spins 720, locks upside down and the grand finale was Johnny jumping off this drumset I’ve built kinda thing. I bought a welder when I was super-broke and just fell in love with it. I spent my twenties just being broke out of my mind but I loved it. I was single and I kept plunking away. The Scorpion Tail is the biggest, heaviest thing I’ve ever built. I can’t believe that thing works. Looking back on it’s creation, it’s really insane that I was able to finish it, it really blows my mind sometimes.

Do you get the fear when it’s in transport coming from the US to here or any other big journeys that it’ll get here and it will have been damaged in transport and when it gets here it won’t work?

Dan: Oh yeah for sure. There’s always that fear because I don’t have any tools with me. When I landed this time I thought, I cannot believe I didn’t bring anything with me tool wise. Not a wrench, not pliers. Some of our techs did thankfully. But thats a thing, you start putting your tools together to travel, ten minutes later it weighs two hundred pounds and it’s just too expensive to travel with it all. We work it out day-by-day if something really breaks. It’s pretty robust. My main concern is the day that something does break and somebody gets hurt, Johnny or anyone else. That thing weighs like 80 pounds, I don’t want the spiny, sharp bit to fall into the security pit or anything like that. We have good insurance *laughs*, knock on wood so far we’ve not had any problems.

Congratulations once again on the Grammys, I know you didn’t win but it must have been an experience to go to the ceremony.

Dan: It was, it was interesting, but honestly I’m glad that stuff is over. From the moment we heard it was a whirlwind – we were over here when we heard and it was getting blown up back home. We had about two weeks of the European headline tour left and all this stuff was happening back home and for me it just kinda created static in my head. With three nominations you think that gives you a pretty good chance that you might win and contemplating that, it was what it was. We were very stoked and very honoured and hopefully with the next record we can go back out there and nail one. We’ll see.

Have you started thinking about the next album yet? The Stories We Tell Ourselves hasn’t been out that long so there’s probably a fair bit of life still in it.

Dan: There are thoughts, everyone is kinda documenting ideas on their own, we just haven’t had any time to get in the jam room and really start hashing things out. That’s kinda how we work now and we need to totally switch gears into that world to be effective.

Do you think you’d go down the PledgeMusic route again?

Dan: I don’t know. Really we haven’t even thought about that level of things yet. We’re just thinking at the levels of how many more days / weeks / months are we going to be gone from home with all the tour offers coming in. We’re definitely not out of ideas *laughs*.

Since this interview was conducted, it was announced that Nothing More would be opening for Bullet For My Valentine at their two huge UK arena shows which take place in just a few days, as well as other shows on their European run. So we got back in touch with Dan and asked for his thoughts about the upcoming shows and here was his response:

“The European fans are incredible so Bullet inviting us onto the tour was awesome. We want to come back to Europe every chance we get.”

Tickets are still available for Nothing More’s shows with Bullet For My Valentine in London (tickets here) and Cardiff (tickets here) which also feature Of Mice and Men. Nothing More’s The Stories We Tell Ourselves is out now on Eleven Seven.


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