Updated: Oct 3
How long have you been making music?
Nick White: I’ve been making music pretty much since I got my guitar, at age 12, so basically 20 years. Not saying it was or even still is any good, but I’ve been making my own songs since around then.
I kinda took a break from guitar and played bass in some bands, one of which actually went on to become successful, without me granted, but I was pretty instrumental in the origin of the Columbus band Attack Attack! It was fun to get that experience super young. I was 16, and basically skipping school to play shows and be a part of that Warped Tour band scene.
After I left that band, I played in this really sick experimental punk band called Tales Of Iscariot. That was really fun. It was like The Fall Of Troy meets At The Drive In. Then I messed around a lot and eventually moved to Buffalo, and played with this really talented artist named Vincenzo Velasco, which really taught me so much about crafting extremely catchy music.
All along the way I’m just getting experience with recording and playing shows and learning the business, which is where I finally got the guts to start a band where I am the frontman, guitarist and vocalist called Sum Of Us, which is my most recent project. It is like an easycore, pop punk, emo band.
What are your influences? Who or what inspires you?
Nick: When I started playing guitar, I didn’t take lessons. I just basically learned around 20 blink 182 songs, which are extremely easy to learn, but actually teach you a lot about playing guitar and writing music. After that I pretty much stopped trying to learn others’ music, and just made my own.
I’m inspired for sure by Blink, Nirvana , some more hardcore punk bands like Terror, and a lot of the newer emo and punk bands like Title Fight and The Story So Far, are awesome to me.
But that’s a broad question because who influences me to be me and make music isn’t entirely just other musicians. I have been influenced by thinkers, authors, and influenced by bad things like government policies, and even more personal things like some hardships I went through in childhood. I'm also influenced by love, as cheesy as that sounds. But that’s the biggest influence on me, because you gotta love to feel, and you gotta feel to make art. Otherwise you’re just some technician recording notes of sound.
What can you tell us about your band Sum Of Us?
Nick: Sum Of Us is a total DIY project that I started with my best friend Casey, who plays drums. We had been jamming together since I got my first guitar. Throughout our friendship I have gone off and done other projects (like Attack Attack!), and that’s been great, but we always eventually ended up making music, and turns out we started writing some really catchy stuff, and resurrecting some stuff I had written that I haven’t recorded.
Sum Of Us is just a fun project that kind of became my most significant form of expressing myself. I was the guy who was ( and sometimes still am) always posting long winded political stuff on fb and being cringe, and after I learned I could yell into a microphone and play my guitar loud and people would like how it sounds, then I didn’t need to be so cringe online. Also Sum Of Us is my first singing project. I never did that: so it will always be a special thing to me. We’re not super active anymore being that I moved out of state, but we still have some music we might release, and are open to other opportunities. But Sum Of Us is like the first project that I got to totally express myself in the manner I exactly felt like doing.
Do you create art with a specific message? Or do you prefer art for arts sake?
Nick: It’s not that I don’t just create art for art sake, as in, I will sit and play my guitar and that’s when a lot of ideas pop in my head, but when I create stuff I usually come up with for example, most of an entire song, in my head, then I can’t get to my guitar and computer fast enough. So it’s like a physical necessity.
But sometimes I do have a contrived goal to create something and then do it, like I wrote our song, “Molotov” pretty quickly, and I wanted to definitely have a political angle in it, and was able to kind of set out to achieve my goal. But I find that often times when you are TRYING to do something , you fail. Basically if I am TRYING to write something contrived, then I have the whole idea fleshed out. I have tons of music I am proud of though that are just instrumentals I wrote for fun, so I guess I do have some history making for arts sake. It’s more just practice to me because home producing is part of my process. I write and record a lot of my own shit. Then, if it’s really good, I go to studio to finish it or redo it. But I would say lately, I have been making music with a message: like one of our latest singles “husk” is clearly about the pandemic and covid and all that. And I was goin for that, once the creative juices got flowing.
What is your creative process like? What tools and methods do you use?
Nick: So I guess I touched on that above, but it’s weird. I have to basically have full control, and be able to write my entire song myself in my head. If I can remember it or am stoked on it enough to write it and record it, then it’s probably good. That’s the process for Sum Of Us. I’m a pretty good team player too, if the band happens to be writing together, then I try to stay out of others way. For SOU, I wrote a lot of the shells of the songs, then we all kinda filled in the gaps.
I don’t do anything crazy though. I don’t take drugs to induce creativity. I think that would actually work the opposite with me. I write when I physically have to. Sometimes like 5 songs will just pour out of me. It’s not that impressive, my music is pretty elementary. But it’s more about how catchy it is, and how well it holds up in the greater zeitgeist of music. Not to compare to others, but you can’t help but wanna make sure it’s not like you're writing Mary Had A Little Lamb, and hoping to play a show with Slayer or something.
So I guess I picture the vibe of my project, and just write. Lately I been coming up with vocal melodies, and if a phrase pops in there and I can build on it or it’s something, I can expand on it. I try to have a reason for my songs, and if someone asks what it’s about I can give a pretty definitive answer.
How long have you considered yourself a libertarian?
Nick: Probably since around 2009. I got into Ron Paul after Obama's first election. Personally I have always been anti-establishment. Skateboarder. Punk rocker. Into guns. Used to be into weed. Just was into what I was into.
But after I graduated high school I watched a lot of Ron Paul videos, got into Alex Jones, and was into kooky conspiracies and stuff. I’ve since grown out of the kookster stuff though (just want to point that out). I think Alex Jones is cool for boomers who wanna feel alive, but I think there’s better commentators out there.
What do you think the role of art should be within the libertarian movement?
Nick: I think libertarians shouldn’t be afraid to be artistic, or not be afraid to let their personalities show in their art, if they do make art. I have experience in living that double life. I had a podcast that was kinda popular that I helped produce and cohost called The Statist Quo, which has since been mostly erased from the web (maybe you can find some episodes, and I’m trying to re-upload some). But I was in that world, and making music and dealing with music people, and a lot are kinda politically left, I suppose, and you almost feel like two different people.
But a while ago I said fuck that, and just be me, and it made me all around cooler on both fronts. Not just stupidly reactionary in my politics, but not ignoring what I know is right, when writing music and making lyrics that might touch people. So I think don’t be afraid to let it show lol.
Also don’t overdo it to make it just “libertarian art”, because that invokes cringe levels of vibes I can’t begin to explain. Just make the best art you can, and try to be an artist that people want to listen to or patronize and set good example, and, if they ask, tell them the truth.
I don’t think starting a band called Anatomy Of The State, and singing Rothbard lyrics will do all that well (although that does actually sound sick), but just be aware there is a thing called main stream and there is real life, and people do actually abide by government rules, and all the governments believe they have power. So don’t pretend like you are a huge star just because you can sell 20 tickets at a LP convention or something.
Try to be the best you can be in their space, or start your own space and make it huge. And don’t think of everyone as your inferior. Don’t be a jerkoff. Make good art. And if you aren’t good at it, then don’t blame mainstream society for not “getting it”. If it’s good, people will like it, and you will be big and you will change the world. It’s pretty simple. Just be great and do great things. Also, I don’t call my band a “libertarian band”, but I know some people would because I am the singer. Just be you.
Are you working on new music?
Nick: Yea I am. I am doing a solo thing that is basically like the next generation of Sum Of Us. But it’s sick. And we also have more Sum Of Us music we might release. But our music is out there, and isn’t going anywhere so people should still listen to it and share it because it’s good. We have actually have a new single coming out October 20th called "Eviction Notice"
Where can people go to listen to your music?