Interview with Bob Nanna of Braid!

Bob Nanna is a multifaceted man; he is the member of an ever-growing list of musical project, including the seminal indie-rock group, Braid. He is also the co-founder of the new website Downwrite, an innovative musical service where customers hire some of their favorite artists (including Mr. Nanna, Matt Pryor of The Get Up Kids, etc.) to write a song for them. After coincidentally running into him at O’Hare Airport, Bob agreed to do a quick interview about the future of Downwrite, as well as his future musical outputs.
Jon & Michael: How did the idea of Downwrite come about?

Bob Nanna: Mark Rose and I were grabbing food one night and started talking about the possibility of us setting up a page where we could write custom songs for people. We thought of it as temp work and practice basically, in our respective downtimes. Instead of trying to find odd jobs around town, why not make something that caters to what we love and enjoy doing? The next day, we decided to go for it, and not just make it for us, but for any songwriter anywhere who would want to use the service.

J & M: What do you aim to do in the future with Downwrite?

BN: We want to open it up for everyone. Right now, it’s basically the two of us that run the day-to-day of the site. We are right now planning on putting in some development to allow many more features, and many more artists. In the grand scheme of things, I’d love for Downwrite to be the ubiquitous place for songwriters to go to hone their craft and connect with their fans in a fresh way.

J & M:How successful has the site been so far?

BN: It’s been amazing! We’ve paid out over $45,000 to artists and have delivered almost 500 songs.

J & M: I saw Matt Pryor is a contributing artist on Downwrite. How did he come to join the roster? Have any other artists contacted you recently?

BN: Matt is an old friend of mine. Braid played many many formative shows with The Get Up Kids. When we decided to start asking friends to give Downwrite a shot, he was pretty much the first on my list. He’s been doing an amazing amount of work and folks are stoked. We have artists contacting us a lot but for now, we need to keep a handle on what we can let on. Strictly from a bandwidth angle. As I said, eventually that won’t be a problem.

J & M: Bob, you’ve been in/are in many musical projects. What do you plan on doing with each project in the future?

BN: Braid has a new album coming out this year. It’s all done – just working out the artwork so the release date should be announced soon. My solo thing The City On Film is finishing up a 6 song EP full of songs sourced on Downwrite, actually! That will probably be released a few months after the Braid record. I’m also doing some solo tour dates coming up with Matt Pryor, Mark Rose, and Steve Soboslai. Jack & Ace is my band with my fiancé – we are finishing up writing an album that we’re looking to record this year. I’m playing with a band called Lifted Bells that has a 2 song 7” coming out next month. Oh, i also put out a digital album called “Threadless Songs” under my name that I recorded in 2008.

J & M: How did Braid get signed to Topshelf?

BN: We knew we wanted to do a new record and they were the most excited about being a part of it. We love the label and all of the bands on it, so it was an easy decision.

J & M: How did the Balance and Composure Split come about? Do you have any other splits/releases coming  up?

BN: Mutual friends helped hook that up for us. I’m glad we were able to do it. After the record, there will most likely be straggler recordings that will make their way out on splits and things but nothing’s set in stone.

J & M: Upcoming tours? Dallas dates?

BN: Nothing in Dallas but we are doing a Downwrite tour in May that I mentioned earlier. Braid has a week of shows in July for the Midwest. Many more to be announced.

J & M: What bands/ artists inspired you to become a musician?

BN: As a kid, it was the bands that my best friends’ parents were listening to, specifically Tattoo You-era Rolling Stones. And they were also the first folks in our neighborhood to have MTV so I got into the new wave craze at that time too. Once I was old enough to start playing music myself, it was local bands like Gauge, Cap’n Jazz – and the touring bands that came and played at our local all ages venue.

J & M: Are there any bands in particular you believe deserve more attention?

BN: Aloha and The Velvet Teen. They are my two favorite bands. They should be huge.

J & M: Which artists are you really digging as of now?

BN: Getting into… Hospitality, The NoTwist, the new Against Me!

J & M: What do you have planned for in the summer? Any special performances or tours?

BN: Yep! See above!

J & M: We like to ask this next question because we’re 17 year old high school kids and it keeps the conversation interesting: High school celebrity crush?

BN: Wow, good question. I have no idea. I basically had crushes on girls in local bands that were only “celebrity” to me.

J & M: What do you aim to do for the rest of 2014? Any goals?

BN: Make and/or discover new music every single day. So far so good!

So there it is. Downwrite is on the uprise, and Bob sees no end to the excitement anytime soon!

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