Live Review: Jason Nolan


It’s no debated matter that York’s young music scene is far from roaring, with few late-night venues and few opportunities for live performance.

It seems the University’s campus bars have taken something of a stand to change this, and they have come to play host to lively evenings brimming with fresh sounds. One need only drop into to D-Bar or The Courtyard, on selected evenings, to catch the new wave of student talent.

I was lucky enough to see JASON NOLAN perform their first gig to date at D-Bar, Friday 1st November. Under the dim light and in front of a small, but promising crowd, the band took to the stage.

I, surely, was not the only audience member suspicious of what to expect, as the three lads ran through sound check, with no drummer in sight. But, as the pre-recorded drums started, and the infectious bass of their first original song, ‘Timbers’, began, we all sat back happy and eager for more.

JASON NOLAN unwound a sound sweetened with groovy riffs and simple, chilled vocals. Their vibe had a certain resonance of Theme Park. They followed up with a rendition Drake’s ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’, infusing the track with their trademark mellow fuzz and airiness.  We were treated to a cover of the infamous ‘Lady (Hear Me Tonight)’ by Modjo, which seemed to be in strong harmony with the band’s upbeat, psychedelic sound. It was pure groove. The student audience responded well and it was clear the guys had some following. Ending with an original, adequately named ‘Bicycle Shed’, the band showcased a bouncy, melodious sound, complimented by the singer’s cool vocals.

After the sonic feast, I sat down with JASON NOLAN and questioned the guys on their inspiration, their recent endeavours and their hopes for the future.

Lead singer, Jason Nolan, expressed his desire not to replicate over-used subject matter and what he thought to be mundane themes. “I didn’t want to write about love… I thought about what I was doing, and I wasn’t doing anything.” This was indeed the thought behind the original ‘Bicycle Shed’, which was inspired by Parkinson’s Law of Triviality. The lyrics, “what’s the point? Have you read a single word yet?” seem to capture this exactly. The Talking Heads and Biblio were also listed as notable sources of inspiration.

To my surprise, the bassist, Sam Raeburn, revealed that the band formed little more than two weeks prior to the gig, and have since practised a handful of times in Jason’s bedroom. The singer, however, has been writing since the age of thirteen, and has one EP online, “JASON NOLAN EP”, which can be found on Soundcloud.

We moved on to the often riveting world of band stories, and despite their youth, the band had an alarming anecdote of guitarist Jack Alexander. After what must have been a particularly strenuous band practice one evening, the boys headed out to Willow. The story revealed Jack’s naked antics on the dance floor. Apparently there are pictures. A future album cover, perhaps?

The guys were generally dismissive about York’s current music scene – Sam described the current situation as “awful.” With inadequate opportunities to perform, they rest their hopes on events like those at D-Bar and The Courtyard, and believe these have started to get the ball rolling.

As for the future, the band hopes to play as many upcoming open mics as possible. I certainly hope to see a lot more from these guys – though, perhaps not as much as Jack is willing to show to the fellow clubbers of Willow.