Hard & Heavy: Nagato @ 123 8.25

From Karma To Burn and Treasure Cat to Hovel, and most recently for us, hearing Hyatari’s They Will Surface, some of the best music we’ve heard recently is from bands that create punishing hard rock landscapes without vocals.

For Nagato, while there are vocals on some songs, this new four-piece from the Eastern Panhandle doesn’t let words get in the way. And, surprise -- there is a Hovel tie-in.

Formed from members of Martinsburg-based Vox Populi and Hovel guitarist Greg Ball, Nagato has a demo and some D.C.-area shows in their pocket, a full-length release and tour planned, and, they bring their act to 123 Pleasant Street Saturday night for their first Magic Town show as Nagato.

Former VP guitarist Paul Cogle explained the genesis of Nagato to us over email.

“We knew Greg from his most excellent band Hovel, which Vox Populi shared the stage with so many times,” Cogle said. “Although Hovel is a Morgantown band, Greg lives near us in the Eastern Panhandle. We asked him to jam with us and Nagato began.”

Cogle said that the chemistry with Ball is there, and discussed the extent to which the band has vocals.

“Jamming with Greg is a blast -- we love it! It has been a new adventure working in a band with two guitars, and we’re still finding our way around, but it’s awesome!”

“When we started Nagato, the intention was (and is) for the music to take the listener on a journey of self-exploration and this should not always have to include singing. Really it’s a fine line and kinda hard to explain.”

Nagato, which “formed out of the ashes” of Vox Populi as Cogle put it, has played a few shows in Maryland and D.C. with rocking results, he said.

“…our shows in D.C. (The Velvet Lounge) and Frederick, Maryland (Krug’s) have been well received -- we couldn’t be happier. We have free demos that are available at the shows; they’re limited edition and contain a song that will never released on anything else we put out. July 25th is our first trip to Morgantown -- gonna be a blast!”

Aside from getting the demo down and doing some shows, Nagato has been busy rehearsing every Sunday, writing songs for a full-length they’ll record later this year and have out early in 2010.

“…but first things first: killer songs first!” Cogle exclaimed.

Nagato recorded their demo on a 16-track analog Otari 1” reel-to-reel at Cogle’s studio, where they practice.

“Hopefully if things work out the full-length will be recorded there as well,” Cogle said. “But it’s really important for us to achieve the best sounds possible. So we’ll start there and if we are happy with the results, we’ll continue. If not, we do have a few options that we’ve been talking about, but nothing set in stone.”

The songs you can hear on their MySpace are killer indeed. “South of Sedona,” “Brick by Brick” and “Tora! Tora! Tora!” had us nearly spell-bound. Cogle said that even though Hovel is still around and may be recording soon (which we are all glad to hear) Nagato is no ordinary side project.

“Dude, it’s totally cool to be in this band -- we love it to death! We are all very good friends and hang out as much as possible already. We love playing music together and hope that never changes.

And Cogle did say the possibility is there for a nice tour sometime in the near future.

“We have a few friends that go out on tour all the time (Admiral Browning, Ol’ Scratch, etc.) and we’ve talked about joining them for a week or so. Just gotta be something we all can do and not cause too much stress on our families.”

And in a sense, Nagato is a kind of family for these guys, Cogle said.

“For all the members of Nagato, it’s not a phase or a fad for us. We love music and will never stop.”

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