Interview: Tina Fey/Louise

Couldn’t be more stoked on what's happening there. Not only are they the homies, but they're some of my favorite musicians in Cincinnati.

Tina Fey and Louise are two Cincinnati bands who channel hardcore, grunge, punk and screamo to create noisy and uplifting music. The two kindred spirit bands have teamed up for a split release and Gavin Brown caught up with Tina Fey vocalist/guitarist Logan Nichols and Louise vocalist Kevin Vance to hear all about the split, both bands mutual respect for each other and other topics relating to both bands. 

Echoes and Dust is also proud to present an exclusive stream of the Tina Fey/Louise split that you can find below. Tina Fey are up first as we put the  questions about Tina Fey to Logan Nichols.

E&D: You are about to release your split with Louise. Can you tell us about your tracks on it and how it came about?

Logan: These are the first two tracks that Tina Fey wrote as an actual band. ‘Nuremberged’ is about a Nazi execution video that Shon sent me well before we started working together on music. Never thought that Naziism would be a subject that would become more and more relevant in our lifetimes, but we definitely think what happened in the video was more appropriate than anything that ever happened in the Nuremberg trials. Fuck em. ‘…Officer’ is a pretty similar song thematically but with a lot less detail and it’s about the American police force instead of Nazis, though the two aren’t dissimilar. Fuck em. I’m not sure how the idea to put out a split together came about. Probably just something that happened when we were hanging out one day.

E&D: Were you fans of Louise before this split?   

Logan: Oh yeah absolutely. The fellas in Louise are some of my closest friends. I’ve either lived with or gotten a tattoo from almost every member of that band. It’s just a lucky coincidence that their music rips and we want to work with them, honestly. Friendship aside, if we didn’t love what they do we wouldn’t have made this split with ‘em. I know that sounds harsh, but it is.

E&D: What are your favourite aspects of the music of Louise?

Logan: Oh god. They just rip for real. They’re not quite just a straight up hardcore band but I can’t vocalize what it is that sets them apart. They’re the best ever. Their songwriting is impetuous. Their dynamics are impregnable. They’re just ferocious.

E&D: How did Tina Fey start as a band in the first place and what are your biggest musical influences?

Logan: Bryce and I used to be in a band together called Eunoia and very quickly into that band I had a dream that we changed the name of the group to Tina Fey. So when that band ended Bryce asked me if I wanted to start Tina Fey and we just got to work pretty quickly. Shon straight up tracked me down and asserted himself as the drummer and we got to all three working together in January of last year. He’s such a good drummer for real it’s been awesome working with him.

E&D: Are you big Tina Fey and 30 Rock fans and what are your favourite comedy moments from her?

Logan: Oh yes definitely. She was on Weekend Update when I was a kid and I rewatch 30 Rock once every couple years. That’s probably how I had the dream that we called the band Tina Fey. Like when Liz has the dream that she gave birth to Meat Cat because she fell asleep eating Cheezy Blasters, I probably fell asleep watching 30 Rock. Mean Girls rules too. Also her voice work on the Midieval Madness pinball game is iconic. That’s a nerdy fuckin’ deep cut. You gotta’ be in both worlds to know that one.

E&D: Has there been any confusion over the band’s name yet?

Logan: No, just unrelenting fear that something will go wrong.

E&D: You released the Songs About Femboys EP last year. How was that received?

Logan: Nobody really cared haha!

E&D: Was it fun putting a Tina Fey spin on Big Black songs?

Logan: Oh yeah we had a blast with that one. I put on an annual event in Cincy called the Halloween Spooktacular and that was actually what we did for the 2021 show. Shon hadn’t joined the group yet so Bryce and I picked Big Black to cover because they used a drum machine instead of a live drummer. I got covid in like September of that year and spent my whole isolation programming a Boss Dr670 and adding blast beats to their songs. The last two tracks from the Songs About Femboys EP are live from the event.

E&D: Which other bands songs would you love to tackle in the future?

Logan: We did Botch for the 2022 spooktacular and I know videos exist of that. We covered the whole Anthology of Dead Ends EP and had no interest in recording it proper because fuck that. We couldn’t find a vocalist so I had to pull triple duty on bass, keyboard, and vocals. Shon and I were rehearsing every single day for that, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done musically. Bryce just fucking already knew how to play the whole album because he’s weird like that. No idea who we’re gonna cover this year. I suggested Brainiac to the boys but I don’t think they’re down.

E&D: What other plans have you got for new music coming up?

Logan: We’re working on a new batch of songs currently that are so incredibly different from the split with Louise and the set we’re playing now. Well, one of the songs in the current set is from that batch. I can’t wait to get back from tour and keep writing for real. The next shit is gonna be fucked.

E&D: Who are the biggest influences on the sound of Tina Fey?

Logan: I don’t even know where to begin, we’re all so different. I hate this question!

E&D: Are you looking forward to your upcoming tour with Louise?

Logan: Of course! We love Louise, those are the absolute boys. We’re really excited to see some old homies on the road too. Playing shows is fun. I haven’t listened to any of the bands that we don’t know yet because I like to be surprised. There’s a band called Jonathan Livingston Seagull that I’m excited to meet because I love that book. Also a band called The Angies which is exciting because that’s my mom’s name. There’s these two sandwich spots that I can’t stop thinking about either. Yemen Cafe in Hamtramck and Triangle Cafe in Philly.

E&D: What have been the most memorable Tina Fey live shows so far and what made them so memorable?

Logan: Off top, the one we did with Kidnapped the other day. We played with Doom Beach once before too and that was great we’re excited to see both of those bands again on this tour. I’ll never forget when my pedalboard fucking died after one song when we were playing with Thin and The Wind in the Trees because that was fucking humbling. We love both of those bands. My favorite by far though is this one from last year at the Mockbee with this band from Lexington called Mustard Boy. They were so good. They showed up to the venue in yellow balaclavas and beaters and never broke character the entire time. All of their songs were about food and eating ass and it wasn’t really a short set. They were assholes too, it was so great. Like I’m sure they’re nice guys in real life but they were so committed to the bit. They left right after their set too, they didn’t even stick around for the other bands. Legendary. Nobody even came out to that show either, it was just us and them and the other bands and a local rapper named Eb and Flow who also rules. The whole evening was unforgettable.

We then talked to Kevin Vance about all things Louise.

E&D: You are about to release your split with Tina Fey. Can you tell us about your tracks on it and how it came about?

Kevin: We wrote both tracks on super short notice because we wanted to play something new for this local Cincinnati fest called Santamania. They were some riffs Paul had been floating recently and it all came together smoother than imagined. All four of us were immediately on the same page that they fit the concept we had in mind for the split so much better than what we had originally been tracking. So with like maybe a week to spare, and during record low temperatures, here we are tracking these two songs in the warehouse by the pickle factory. A tale as old as time with us for real. As far as how the split idea came about, I couldn’t tell ya. Somebody must have said it out loud one time and nature took care of the rest.’Desert Serpent’ is more or less a stream of consciousness quasi-inspired by the psychedelic experiences of Philip K. Dick. Since time is not a real thing, then if armageddon is to ever happen, it’s always been happening. And the narrative takes the perspective of some poor shmuck in the dark ages recognizing the banality of fighting a war that ultimately has two losing sides. And then the cognitive dissonance of realizing that no loving God could be with you in those moments. And we end it out with some self indulgent imagery from the Book Of Revelation, as we are one to do. ‘Boulder’ is a discussion on the western concept of Heaven. It’s short, sweet, and blunt so there’s not much else to say. All I know is our hero does not seem too interested in being there.

E&D: Were you fans of Tina Fey before this split?

Kevin: Entirely, absolutely, couldn’t be more stoked on what’s happening there. Not only are they the homies, but they’re some of my favorite musicians in Cincinnati. I was pretty enthralled with the project Logan and Bryce were in prior to Tina Fey called Eunoia, and when the secret got out that Shon was the drummer for the new trio they were working on in the shadows I was so amped to see how it turned out, and frankly it’s been executed flawlessly. Logan has always had this funny way of casually mentioning some vision he has in mind, and then 3 months later he’s handing you a flier and asking if you can make it to the show.

E&D: What are your favourite aspects of the music of Tina Fey?

Kevin: There’s so much warmth in the melodies hidden underneath the chaos happening when I listen to Tina Fey. It might sound insane but I can truly hear the influence from acts like Songs: Ohia in their music. Which is just a gemstone that comes from having context to put to it. Like, objectively it’s really sick grind, but having the knowledge of who is making it gives so much essence to it that has never not put a grin on my face at shows. Kainon offered to show me the Tina Fey recordings a few times before they were done but I declined out of a desire to wait until they were the complete and intended package. I had just finished hearing ‘Nuremberged’ for the first time and was sitting on the stoop outside my apartment when Logan called me to boast about the Louise side of the split. It was one of those synchronicities you need to follow when it presents itself.

E&D: How did Louise get together as a band?

Kevin: Really I ask myself how it took so long for us to start playing music together so consistently. Not only have we been such tight homies for almost a decade, but Kainon, Paul, and Harry were in a band called Pout with our good friend Caroline;  and Paul, myself, and our good friend Brandon were in a band called Brain Dead Breath. These projects shared the same practice space, and probably half of the equipment being used too. Even outside of that I’d have trouble pinpointing a night between 2016 and 2020 that we weren’t all together anyway. There’s a great picture from Kainons old bedroom when we all lived by UC where the four of us are jamming together, a couple years before the band actually formed. But really it’s the same old story from the pandemic years. Life sucked, we were bored senseless, and despite what we were being asked NOT to do we’d been hanging out a bunch anyway. So a few saturdays in a row we got together in the basement of the Mad House, where Kainon and Harry had been living. And before we knew it we had like five songs written and we started seeing fliers for shows start to get posted for the summer of 2021. Figured no time like the present but to start getting out there ourselves.

E&D: What is the story behind the name of the band?

Kevin: Naming bands is probably the most annoying thing I’ve ever tried to do in my life. You think you have something so sick and then by the twentieth time you’ve said it out loud to yourself it’s the whackest most lame thing you’ve ever heard. But the night when we were all together with the intended purpose of landing on a name, for some reason the conversation shifted to other things and Harry mentioned off hand that his dogs actual name is Louise. We’d all been calling her Weez, Weeza, Weezy, for years. Something about the name Louise just felt so poignant. And naming the band after that sweet, sweet little buddy is the furthest thing from corny I could ever imagine. Our instagram profile picture is a close up of Weeza.

E&D: The members of Louise were members of the bands Pout, Brain Dead Breath and Piss Flowers. Do you bring any of those bands sounds and vibes into this new band?

Kevin: Phonically we probably have the most in common with Piss Flowers, but the influence of Pout is alive and well in our writing process. Watching Paul and Kainon bounce riffs off of each other is a really magical thing to experience. I brought my vocal style with me from Brain Dead Breath, which was an emo band, and made it a bit truer to form for a hardcore project.

E&D: Who are the biggest influences on the music of Louise?

Kevin: Stylistically I’d say we pull a lot from Bib, Blacklisted, and Dystopia. Content wise, thats all coming from my fascination with horror and the occult. The only cover set we ever played was like 40 minutes of Title Fight songs and it was probably the most fun we’ve ever had. Caroline from Pout played lead guitar with us that night so it was truly the sickest.

E&D: You are doing a joint tour with Tina Fey. Are you looking forward to that?

Kevin: I’ve been day dreaming of this tour since the day the word “tour” was first used in a conversation. The planning was a little hectic because I don’t know if I’ve ever met seven busier people, but it all came together so well. We’re going to have the opportunity to reconnect with some old friends, and it sounds like there’s some really great people we get to meet up with for the first time along the way. Between Louise and Tina Fey I’m going to be packed in with some of my closest friends in the world, and we get to play a show every night. I can’t imagine a better way to start spring.

E&D: What have been some of your most memorable live shows to date?

Kevin: Oh hands down one of my favourite  sets we ever played was Santamania 2022. it was at this venue called The Mockbee, and above Mockbee there’s an indoor skatepark called The Pit, and the stage we played was up there. Playing in a skatepark is its own brand of fun, and it made the energy so much different than what I’m used to in a traditional venue or even a house show. I looked down at one point and there was this kid, couldn’t have been any older than 10, absolutely tough-guying the pit. Pushing older dudes around, throwing elbows, having a great time. I’m thinking to myself, aside from pure hubris, this is why I love doing this. Cause 10 years from now, who knows. This kid might remember how much fun they had at Santamania, maybe be in a band with his homies, and keep this whole chaotic cycle going, the same way we did.

E&D: What are some of your favourite ever bands from Cincinnati both past and present?

Kevin: At present, I’ve gotta say Scenario. is the best band in Cincinnati. When I’ve said that to them Mike reminds me that they’re from Kentucky, but I’m claiming them. And that’s in writing. The sickest true Cincinnati band in the game right now though is Tight Grip. They have everything that you could want in a band. In the past though, it’s gotta be Ruby Throat and Great Dane. I think the second Brain Dead Breath show we ever played was with them and Arms Length. I have no idea how we got put on that bill, and I’m still flabbergasted by that. I don’t think Great Dane was active for much longer after that, and I managed to catch at least a dozen more Ruby Throat sets before they disbanded. I count myself blessed for getting to play shows with new projects some of those guys are in now though. And at Santamania ~2016 this band Head Collector played that was just perfect. Chefs kiss of a hardcore project. I’d be remiss not to mention Flesh Mother here too. Some of the first shows me and Paul went to together were Flesh Mother shows.

E&D: What is coming up for Louise for the rest of the year after the tour?

Kevin: Shooooo we haven’t really talked about it much. But I reckon we have some riffs we’re sitting on that need some attention and I wouldn’t be mad if we played some local shows in the summer heat. Short answer, keep on keepin on. More specific short answer, I would love to have an EP recorded by the holiday season. No promises!

E&D: What have been some of the highlights of your music career so far?

Kevin: The first Brain Dead Breath show. All three of us worked at Adriaticos Pizza by UC and I think the entire kitchen staff showed up to support us. The first Louise show. Fear of the pandemic was subsiding, and Our boy Jake hosted the show at his spot. He was in a band called Welp with Shon from Tina Fey and our homie Bean. It was a really great night because we got to play music with our best friends and it sank in that life was going to start happening again. A few weeks ago I was hanging at Logans crib and he asked if I wanted to see what he got in the mail that day. When he opened the box it was the Tina Fey / Louise tapes, which I genuinely was not expecting. Up to that point, no project I’d ever been in ever culminated in the existence of something physical. It made Louise feel like something new.

E&D: What do you still want to achieve with your music in the future?

Kevin: I think it would be incredible to write and record something worthy of vinyl. Whether that’s a 7 inch or a 12 inch is up to the future. Ideally it’s with Louise. I don’t really see an end in sight for what we’re doing, so yeah. Press some Louise songs onto vinyl is what I’d like to see one day. All of this is so much more than I ever imagined it would become years ago either way, so I’m happy.

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