Alt-rock revivalist band Nothing frontman Dominic Palermo still suffers vertigo from a beating after a club date in Oakland, but the band sounds better than ever on its second LP, “Tired of Tomorrow.”
Rarely has a musician embodied the adage “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” as aptly as Dominic Palermo, frontman for alt-rock revivalists Nothing, playing the Tractor Tavern Friday (June 17).
A native of Philadelphia’s heroin- and crack-ravaged Kensington neighborhood, Palermo did two years in prison in his 20s for stabbing someone in a fight and last summer had his head bashed in during a mugging in Oakland.
At the time, Palermo and his bandmates Brandon Setta (guitar), Nick Bassett (bass) and Kyle Kimball (drums) were riding high off their 2014 debut “Guilty of Everything,” a KEXP-friendly synthesis of grunge grit and shoegaze warmth.
Nothing, Wrong, Culture Abuse
9 p.m. Friday, June 17, Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle; $14 (206-789-3599 or tractortavern.com).
“The second we found out we could make money and not have to work, just drive around and play music, we forgot about everything else,” says Palermo. “We drank every day, hung out every day — flying here, driving there — pushing the envelope as much as we possibly could.”
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Then, outside a West Oakland club, after another triumphant show, it almost all ended.
“When all of a sudden you’re in a hospital, in awful pain, on drugs, with tubes in you … big, swollen head like a watermelon … you learn, ‘OK, maybe you have to push back a little bit.’ ”
Thankfully for Nothing and its growing fan base — a motley mix of punks, metalheads and indie kids — Palermo survived the ordeal, but not entirely unscathed. Vertigo has been an unpleasant side effect, he says.
Upon being discharged from the hospital, the 30-something musician caught a ride to Big Sur, got a cheap hotel room and in a haze of painkillers and red wine penned the bulk of the lyrics to Nothing’s smashing second album, “Tired of Tomorrow.”
The biggest jump from LP1 to LP2 is just how much catchier the songs are. The choice to dial down the effects — reverb, specifically — lets the material breathe more than before, also allowing for a tasteful use of strings on a couple tracks, which add atmosphere but not mush.
People are listening. In its first week, “Tired” was the second-best-selling vinyl title worldwide.
Palermo, an open book of a guy, recognizes that his rotten luck has also helped Nothing gain notoriety.
“It’s impossible to get anyone to listen to a record anymore without a story,” he says. “I understand it.”
That said, he and the band are ready for — and deserve — a new angle.
“Terrible things happen to everybody every day,” says Palermo. “I just use what happens to me — to us — as a platform to be inspired.”
(Click here to see an amusing video about indie-rock band names like “Nothing.”)