Interview: No One Mind

No One Mind is an interesting rock band from North Carolina, who recently released their new album, Secondary Gain. It makes for a fantastic listen, also including elements of indie, dream-pop and alt-rock. If you’re into any of those genres, you should consider checking the album out once you’ve read through this interview with Ellis from the group!

By Jane Howkins

You recently released your sophomore album release, called Secondary Gain. What can you tell us about the album and what does the title refer to?

The album name Secondary Gain refers to the psychological term of the same name, referring to a kind of benefit that’s felt or experienced by someone secondary to another – a primary feeling, often a bad feeling, sickness, disease, etc. I may be butchering the term, but that’s my understanding of it. Thematically, the album is a collection of songs that paint vignettes of different characters attempting to pull themselves out of patterns of loneliness, mourning and a fixation with their own victimhood. All of these things, as painful as they’ve been, have become a comfortable refuge where these characters can live and ultimately feel in control – it feels good, but doesn’t necessarily solve the initial problem. This is the secondary gain I’m referring to.

How has the reception to Secondary Gain been so far, and where can the song be purchased?

From what I’ve heard, the reception has been good so far. Exposing the songs to a wider audience is always a struggle, especially since we aren’t touring at the moment, but locally, amongst the music community that we’re a part of in North Carolina, folks are into it. The song and the album of the same name can be purchased through our Bandcamp page. We don’t have any vinyl copies of the record for sale at the moment, but that may change in the future.

Do you plan to release any singles from the album in the near future?

We released two songs and three music videos for the songs Covered in Roses, Secondary Gain, and Nightmare, all leading up to the release of the record, but don’t have concrete plans for further singles releases past this point. There are a handful of demo versions and acoustic variations of some of the songs that we’ll likely share in the coming weeks, but nothing that’s truly a ‘single’ per se.

Have you started writing for your next album release, or even an EP?

Always. Yeah, for me songwriting is the best part, and I’ve always got a backlog of ideas needing to be fleshed out. Maybe not 9 hours worth, but a good collection of songs, some more finished than others. As much as I love the album format, it’s quite possible the next release will be a smaller batch like an EP, or even just multiple singles. Maybe it’s a divisive topic, but for the most part, it seems like a lot of music just isn’t experienced as an album anymore, so if we’re not tied to a strict touring cycle, why burden ourselves with having to wait to craft a lengthier release? I say that but of course I love the packaged, narrative arc that full-lengths offer, so who knows…

Your music has an indie/dream-pop/new wave sound. What/who influences you most as an artist? What have you been listening to recently?

A lot of the music I’m listening to recently is coming from those Sounds of the Dawn re-releases that get put up on YouTube. A lot of new age, ambient cassettes from the 80’s and early 90’s. I’m not a vinyl collector myself, although plenty of my friends are. I’ve been attracted to ambient music since I heard Another Green World in my late teens, not long after my punk phase when Fun House was on repeat. That critical 70’s crew of Bowie, Eno and Iggy are kinda where I always return to influence-wise, although I’m also pretty inspired by power-pop guys – Big Star, Rundgren, Sparks and Roxy Music. That contrast between heavy, baroque exuberance and dark, ethereal reprieve is where I like to live musically. As far as contemporary folks go, there aren’t a ton I can point to, although I consistently enjoy work from Preoccupations, Tame Impala, Here We Go Magic, Cate Le Bon… I’m trying to get better at widening my tastes, ha.

Why did you decide to use the moniker No One Mind, instead of performing under your name?

The name and the band vision came about as a response to the dissolution of an old band I was in named Toddlers. At the time, there were feelings of betrayal and of being overpowered by a singular voice, so the mantra of No One Mind, implying that the music was to represent a collection of voices and perspectives, became an appropriate moniker. Being the primary songwriter, I fully recognize the irony of the name, but for me it still holds a meaningful reminder to think about a song or art in general, as something more than belonging to a point source. The first record was very much a collective production experience with past collaborators Noah Dehmer and Missy Thangs, and this record too could not have been possible without current bandmates Reed Benjamin and Sam Logan. While the cast of No One Mind may change over time, I don’t want to forget the importance of that collective spirit to the songwriting.

Do you have anything else exciting coming up this year?

The slate is pretty clean. We’ve been tooling these songs for a while now, since before the pandemic, so releasing them almost feels like a burial ceremony of sorts. We’ll continue to play them and have a blast doing so, but I also think this is a great opportunity to cook up new things. So that’ll be the focus moving forward in the year (which is exciting to me!).

You’re based in North Carolina. Which area? How is the local music scene faring at the moment?

With the exception of a few years spent schooling outside the state, I’ve lived in North Carolina since I was 8, and I’ve been playing in bands in the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) since I was 18 or 19. I’ve always felt a closeness with the local music scene, a lot of support, not a lot of hostility and if anything, a healthy amount of friendly competition. A lot of us will jump around playing in each other’s projects, trading off and helping each other realise our musical aspirations. There are a lot of big names coming out of NC, which is great, and a fair amount of musicians from other states are relocating here too, which may go to show you that we’ve got something special to offer.

Do you have any tour dates lined up for the UK?

Sadly, no, we do not, although I’m certainly not opposed to the idea!

Any last words for the fans?

We hope you’re enjoying the new record. Looking forward to releasing new music in the coming months!