Christian Gerner-Smidt, Jack Reed and Alex Morrison came together in 2019 to form the band Nix the Scientist. All three musicians have more than a decade of experience in the music industry, and they have released two EPs in the past year: “Liftoff” and “Notions.”
Now, the group is getting ready to release a brand new single entitled “Dark Passenger,” which will be available on all major streaming platforms on May 7.
The Red & Black spoke with the members of Nix the Scientist to discuss “Dark Passenger,” how COVID-19 has impacted their music and some of their more general experiences as a band thus far.
The Red & Black: How would you guys describe the kind of music that you make?
Alex Morrison: Experimental progressive rock, that’s how I would describe it.
Jack Reed: I’d say we just make rock music. And then there’s a lot of stuff that is a huge umbrella category these days, and we kind of do a little bit of everything. So, really we have no idea what we’re doing. We make what we make because we like it.
Christian Gerner-Smidt: The only recipe for what we do is, ‘Do we all think it’s something we can enjoy?’
R&B: What inspired the single ‘Dark Passenger?’
AM: ‘Dark Passenger’ was straight-up inspired by the show ‘Dexter.’ The term “dark passenger” was used to describe Dexter’s alter ego. Basically, whenever he was getting ready to cut somebody into little pieces, he would kind of transform into his real self and leave his kind of ‘Miami Vice’ detective self behind. That was kind of the idea behind [‘Dark Passenger’].
R&B: How has COVID-19 impacted your music?
CG-S: We recorded most of the stuff for our first ever releases right before COVID hit. ... We actually released our first single, ‘Flux,’ back in March 2020 and that was right when everything shut down. Normally, in every other band we’ve been in, we were able to release a little bit of music and go play some shows, kind of feel out what people like. … In this case, I think COVID has sort of allowed us to buckle down and really think more about our music and take our time with it.
AM: We’ve basically written three full EPs in the span of a year because everyone, including us, is basically not trying to go anywhere for fear of our lives, so we’ve had a lot of productivity time.
R&B: What has it been like making music in such prominent creativity hubs like Athens and Atlanta?
CG-S: Jack and I — we cut our teeth in Athens. We both went to college at [the University of Georgia]. I went to grad school there. My entire experience of what playing in a band is like came out of that. I still remember the first time I played the 40 Watt [Club]. It was life-changing almost, like, ‘This is what it’s all about, being a musician and rocking out.’
AM: I was born and raised in Atlanta. I would say when I met the guys, I didn’t really know too much about the deep Athens scene. I knew a little bit about some of the Atlanta scene but I learned a lot through them about some more experimental bands and stuff I wouldn’t normally find myself listening to… I came up from the metal scene in Atlanta, and it’s kind of disappeared since I was younger so I kind of appreciate that we’re bringing in some of those different elements.
R&B: What are some of your aspirations for the band looking forward?
AM: I want to keep writing music that I enjoy and that the guys enjoy, and basically everything else should follow. It seems that the formula for good bands anywhere is that you play music that you think sounds good and is maturely written and that sort of thing, but as long as you commit to something you really enjoy, that’s kind of the better path.
CG-S: I think we spent a lot of time in previous bands playing music just for the sake of what we think people would like. I think something that happens inevitably when you do that is you start not having that deep, inherent passion for what it is you’re doing. You can think that that’s not going to come across to a listener, but your audience can sniff out a fake real quick. So, that’s basically a big goal for us, making music that we 100% stand behind.
JR: If we end up making money with this and touring this stuff — cool, great, added bonus. Honestly, I just want to have something that I can look back on in 30 years and say, ‘Yeah, I was a part of that.’
This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.