Neighbors Interview for Capitol Hill Block Party 2014
This year I daydreamed of all the possibilities of a magnetic local music showcase at Capitol Hill Block Party. The fest managed to sprinkle in a few local gems like the poppy-punk band, Neighbors. They are Nathan Anderson, Evan Easthope, Claire Buss and José Diaz Rohena. The band’s live action got new listeners turned on to positive dance vibes inside Barboza’s cold basement atmosphere. They played vibrantly with songs from the album, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?, and two new ones. It was really good to see Neighbors on at the CHBP. I recall meeting José in 2011 at the Funny Button in the U District through a mutual friend at the time. After the show I was able kick it with Neighbors for a sec and chat with José.
What made you want to play Capitol Hill Block Party?
José Díaz Rohena: It seemed like one of the more fun things in the summer to hang out at.
How did Neighbors start?
JDR: Shortly after 2009 I met Nathan. When I moved here, I found out that a friend I had made in India now lived blocks away from me. We hung out and I met her cousin who played drums. That’s when I bugged Nathan to start practicing.
What is your perspective of the changing demographic of the local music scene?
JDR: Bigger DIY venues have gone away, like Healthy Times Fun Club. It went away in 2011.
I am getting older and don’t do much and may be missing out. Bands are getting more serious and going on longer tours. Some people are hanging out at home working on music.
There has always been this impression that a lot of really amazing bands, particularly ones who live in the U District, shy away from playing on the Hill. Can you maybe give me your perspective on that?
JDR: I felt like the Hill was dominated by heavy, art/noise, and electronic music.
What I was doing was a little naive given what was going on in the city, but I don’t know. I want to say that we weren’t received well, but that isn’t exactly true. I met a lot of cool friends through my engagement as a player.
Besides, I had insane expectations, especially given that I had never really played in a rock band before this one.
What do you like about performing at home versus playing live?
JDR: I love recording and enjoy that aspect of the process. Playing live is weird and it can be scary and dark until you learn how to perform. You can control energy more when you are recording. When playing live people are there to see you and they can see what mood the band is in, what the sound is in the room. You only get one chance.
What drives your passion?
JDR: I feel like I am meant to do this. I don’t feel like a fully realized human unless I am fully working on the process and unless I am engaged. To simplify, I don’t feel really here unless playing in Neighbors, writing songs and recording.
I write produce, band arranges. . . done most of the recording and mixing work.
That will change. . . mostly been like a home deal.
There are so many amazing bands, including Neighbors, who primarily play in the U District. I am just curious why you don’t play up here on the hill as much.
JDR: It’s weird because I feel like I see Neighbors as 8 months old. The first 5 years of being in this band I was heavily invested in alcohol. Being a full-scale alcoholic I would have had chances to be accepted on the hill. I stopped drinking and we are a completely different band now.
What are your future aspirations?
JDR: We are going on a national tour this autumn. We plan to put another record this year. We hope people listen to it and like it. I hope to transition into recording and be more useful to the community that way.
all photos by Marz