'Nation' Building: Huntington band built on love of thrash

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Photo: Mike Adkins

Nation (L-R: Jake Wegman, Dana White, Ryan Vickers, Bobby Midkiff, Bryan Patterson) formed out of its member’s friendships and love of thrash metal. The Huntington-based band will help open things up at Byzantine’s CD release show tonight at the V Club.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

It wouldn’t be incorrect to describe Dana White’s new band as an exercise in “Nation” building. Except, in lieu of foundational concepts like democracy and liberty, the Huntington-based five-piece band Nation is built on the freedom to express themselves and pursue happiness -- as a thrash metal band.

Gathered at White’s house in Huntington for a Saturday rehearsal, White, guitarists Bryan Patterson and Ryan Vickers, and bassist Bobby Midkiff talked about the big ideas behind the birth of their own particular Nation.

Describing Nation as “way more thrash,” than his previous bands, Holden Caulfield and Heart Holds True/Black Seas, White said Nation, comprised of members of Holden Caulfield, Neutral Agreement and Deckard, formed quite organically through friendships developed over the years.

“I was excited about this band from the get go,” the singer said. “Bryan and I had been wanting to be in a band together for a long time, and we finally pulled it off.”

Nation performs at The V Club Saturday night, helping to open for Charleston metal band Byzantine, as they release their first record in five years.

Borrowing from a Holden Caulfield album title, White said after the popular hardcore band broke up he and X-Box buddy Midkiff agreed they “Can’t Stop Now.”

“When Holden Caulfield broke up, Bobby and I had already been talking about doing Heart Holds True, which had no name at that point. But Heart Holds/True Black Seas, which was basically the same band with a few changes here and there, that band never really got its momentum. And we hated that, because we enjoyed it and it was fun.”

It was entirely coincidental that Midkiff was moving back to West Virginia from Jacksonville, Florida, when Nation was being birthed.

“Well, Dana and I have been best friends for what, like, six or seven years now?” Midkiff asked as if to confirm it with the singer and his bandmates.

“Thirteen? Longer than that,” Patterson, who White said has written the majority of Nation’s songs, added to laughter from the guys.

“Yeah, a long time,” Midkiff said, continuing. “But I was in Florida, and had just moved back, and Dana said he needed a bass player for Nation. So I was like, ‘of course,’ it was like the perfect fit.

The bassist described how Patterson was pulled into orbit over the years.

“When I was in Holden Caulfield we played a lot of shows with Neutral Agreement, and Bryan was in Neutral Agreement. Actually, on the Holden Caulfield record “Can’t Stop Now,” Bryan came in and did some guest guitar work on two songs. Just playing shows with our bands, together over the years we’ve gotten to know each other that way.”

Patterson jumped in at this point to describe the band’s genesis, and their mutual love of thrash.

“Like Bobby hit on earlier; he, Dana and I have been crossing paths for years now. When I was in Neutral Agreement we’d play shows all the time. Dana was always really good about putting us on shows and supporting our band. Really just by playing shows together and hanging out at shows we became pretty good friends and we always tossed around the idea of playing together.

“We’ve always had a love of old school thrash, which is something that’s not around here, or surrounding areas too much,” Patterson added. “So we really liked the idea of going back and doing what got us into music to begin with: Anthrax, Metallica, Slayer, stuff like that.”

“We both love old school thrash, we all do,” Vickers added, describing the mutual interests he shares with Patterson and the rest of the guys. “He grew up with it, and me, I kind of ventured into heavier, heavier music. But we all still maintained that interest in thrash.”

Admitting he was excited for his band to have the opportunity to open for Byzantine and potentially reach new fans, White said when it comes to getting Nation’s music out in the digital age, just like playing out, it’s all about getting your music out there these days.

“As far as giving the music away, stuff like that, it’s hard to sell music these days, especially when you’re not the headlining band,” the singer said. “We just figure, ‘Hey, we’ll just give this away, and hopefully people will listen to it and we hope they like it,’ get to know it that way.”

Patterson said that, financial constraints aside, the band looks forward to recording a full-length follow-up to Nation’s 3-song E.P., released in September 2012, this year if possible.

White, asked about the likelihood of living out his admitted dream of having his band open for Anthrax, said he’s quite literally living the dream in Nation.

“It would be a dream come true to get to play with Anthrax,” White said.

“But at the same time, I’m so stoked to play any show that we can, even if there’s hardly anybody there, we’ll still be pumped to play because we’ll get to hang with each other, we’ll still get to meet a handful of new people, and we’re probably going to play a new venue that we’ve never played or been to.

“Being in a band is a privilege that some people, sadly, take for granted.”

“I agree with Dana,” Patterson said. “I’ve loved thrash metal for as long as I can remember. Going through my entire life and just now being able to be in a thrash band, it means the world to me to play the music I love, and play the music that influenced me.

“It’s icing on the cake that people come to watch it and people enjoy it.”

Byzantine CD Release show w/Nation, DeadFaceDown, Among The Dead
WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington (304) 781-0680
WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 23
TIME: doors at 8 p.m., show at 10 p.m.
COST: $12 advance, $15 day of show
INFO: www.vclublive.com

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