Salim Nourallah of the band NHD talks with C&I about the band’s origin and making a Thin Lizzy song “the opposite of badass.”
Composed of renowned solo singer-songwriters Salim Nourallah, Billy Harvey, and Alex Dezen, NHD is a dizzying array of talent too good to ignore, as they prove on their forthcoming debut album, And the Devil Went up to Portland, on which alternative country artist Nourallah, rocker Harvey, and The Damnwells frontman Dezen collaborate to create effortless folk and country tunes.
Nourallah recently talked with C&I about the release of their new tune and how NHD came together.
Cowboys & Indians: What drew you all to the Thin Lizzy song “The Boys Are Back in Town”?
Salim Nourallah: In NHD, we have three different band members living in three different cities. All three of us are frontman types who sing, write our own songs, and are prone to posting endlessly on social media. The lyrics seemed fitting for the “mayhem on a stick” tours that would commence whenever we’d all finally land in the same place together. “The Boys Are Back in Town” also happens to have three verses, so each of us could take turns with the lead vocal. If you’d like to know the order, it’s Alex on verse one, then myself, and Billy. Billy picked his verse because he wanted to sing the line “If the boys wanna fight, you’d better let ’em!”
C&I: What was the process like to make the song your own?
Nourallah: There’s a neat little video on our website that we shot while we were first working it up. We had a couple of free hours in Dallas one afternoon before the last show of the tour we were on. You can see that the song fell into sounding like “us” from the very start. We definitely wanted it to be fun and the opposite of badass or tough, which is kind of how Lizzy did it.
C&I: You all come from solo backgrounds. What made you want to start NHD?
Nourallah: Friendship and fun. I was looking to do some solo dates a few years back and I asked Billy and Alex separately if they wanted to join me on a bill. I figured one of them would flake out. When neither did, we all went out on this tour together. Billy and Alex had never met before that. They became fast friends, and our onstage chemistry instantly morphed into some sort of Rat Pack-esque variety show. More laughs than I’ve ever had playing live in all the years I’ve been doing this.
C&I: How did you develop your sound?
Nourallah: It just happened. All of us sing, write songs, and have fronted bands and solo projects for years. It came together naturally and without much forethought and definitely zero struggle.
C&I: Your album And the Devil Went up to Portland is fantastic. What aspects of the album are you most excited about and proud of?
Nourallah: Thank you for the props! I’m proud of all the songs, casual performances. and non-fussy production. I also think Bob Schneider designed one of my favorite album covers ever. I love how great the vinyl edition looks. I’d say it’s EPIC.
C&I: Do you have a favorite song on the album?
Nourallah: My personal favorite is “Complicatedness.” Billy sings that one. Our friend Bob S. had given me a five-disc “anthology” of unreleased Billy Harvey demos and this one grabbed me right away. I couldn’t believe he’d never put it on a record. It has a great mix of atmospheric melancholy, clever words, and a melody that will burrow into your brain immediately.
C&I: Are there any songs that didn’t make the album that we can expect in the future?
Nourallah: I have a song called “See You in Marfa” that we recorded and even performed in the studio on KXT. It just didn’t quite seem to fit in with the rest of them.
C&I: What’s next for you all?
Nourallah: We’re doing another Texas tour in late October, and then L.A. [Hotel Café, November 1) and New York City [date and venue TBA]. After we’re done promoting this record we’ll probably make another one early next year.
To find out more about NHD and their upcoming tour dates, visit their website.