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No No Knots (Profile)

Members of Peter Adams' band and Happy Maladies tie themselves up

By C.A. MacConnell · March 29th, 2010 · Locals Only
Like a bird, just follow the breadcrumbs. No No Knots’ trail leads to four sharp, classically trained, College-Conservatory of Music junkies plus Molly Sullivan, one vivid vocalist.

With a sweet range, Sullivan has the innate ability to stray into sudden, yet fitting wildness. Here, with careful timing and an instinctive style, she lets loose. A natural combo not learned in books.

Sullivan says, “Vocally it’s been really fun to play around. I tend to be a stylized vocalist … but I’ve been really into these obscure intricacies, I guess. It’s a little unconventional and I like that.”

Guitarist Eli Maiman adds, “We non-vocalists — OK, so the four dudes in the band — are pretty free to go far out on our music, because Molly is inevitably gonna sing a terrific vocal line over it.”

Call it Indie Rock or noisy Post Punk, but from Disco to carnival-style Electronic sounds, these tunes catapult into dirty Rock. At times, the hidden, souped-up rhythms and underlying harmonies are challenging, but NNK songs still bang out with tight Pop roots. Crediting Deerhoof and Radiohead for influence, they blend electric with acoustic and live beats with sampled ones.

Newly formed, the five came together when they “felt the desire to start a danceable Rock band in Cincinnati,” Maiman says. “I’d been playing with Molly for about a year, so we asked Molly if she wanted to be involved and she was into it.”

Sullivan (of Bosco Rossi) wears green seashell earrings and ballet slippers and she’s bragging about her toy piano.

Piercing eyes here. Surely, she’s about to get into something. With a grin, Sullivan says, “I kind of contradict myself, because I work with this band and we’re trying to have some sort of marketability, but with my own stuff, I feel quite the opposite … I want it to happen organically.”

Sullivan speaks with dry humor, but on stage, she’s more elusive. “I just want to do our thing and be an ambiguous figure,” she says, “have a vague sense of identity in front of people.”

Maiman (of popular local Indie artist Peter Adams’ band) has dark, wide, distinguished features. When Sullivan signed up, he says, “that’s when the project started taking shape.”

But he knows, creatively, each member has his back. “I know that everybody in this group I can lean on as a musical entity,” he says. “Everybody’s got a really unique personality on their instrument.”

Drummer Martin Diller (of Peter Adams) is still half-dressed from a photo shoot, wearing a hoodie with his dress shirt and tie. With big, wavy hair, Diller grew up playing Garage Rock, then moved into Classical and Jazz. He says, “Everyone in this group is ready to hang with whatever we throw at them. So we have a great foundation and then Molly just takes it to a new level.”

Bassist Dave McClellan began on guitar. Although soft spoken, he is a practiced singer and his father was a professional singer in the New York Metropolitan Opera. Of NNK’s chemistry and heavy improv, McClellan says, “I feel like we’re better at feeling and hearing what we want to play and that’s probably why it comes together in the practice space so well.”

Violin master Eddy Kwon was the last one pulled on board. A member of The Happy Maladies, Kwon (guitar, keys, violin, vocals) has a startlingly unique, half-shaved head (“I felt the need. I saw it in a vision,” he says). Kwon’s melodic, soft speaking voice gives him another vibe — a cross between a punk and a poet. He says that breaking out of Classical violin practice rooms and playing in bands “put the education into practice in a really meaningful way.”

Currently, they’re punching out their first EP, recording parts at Clifton’s The Marburg Hotel, where Kwon and many artists live. The Marburg recently scored a grant from CS13, an artist-run nonprofit, and it’ll soon explode with new recording ventures and artsy events in the basement, where NNK had their first show, a “tight space and a lot of people,” Sullivan reminisces, smiling.

Slowly adding layers, the studio process has been a community effort focused on capturing the live sound. Maiman announces, “We plan on unleashing them on the public sometime in the next couple of months.”

With community energy, rock-solid musicianship and songs that mix creative juice with studied structure, No No Knots already has solid ties. Play something and they’re each right on it. Say something and they’re ready to to fly.

NO NO KNOTS (www.myspace.com/nonoknots) plays the Clifton Heights Music Festival Friday at Baba Budan’s. Get festival and club details here.



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