The Strangers

Editor’s note: Hunter Arias is a former employee of The Daily Nebraskan.

During high school, brothers Simon and Isaac Nabb wrote songs at their childhood home on 33rd and Randolph streets. A couple years later and one block over, they would record those very songs with their band The Strangers at Shallot Records. On May 1, that band will release its debut EP “Strange” and bring The Strangers full circle.

The Strangers will drop one of the five EP tracks, “Be There,” on April 23. 

The five-piece band includes bassist Simon Nabb, rhythm guitarist Isaac Nabb, lead guitarist Caleb Kirilov and keyboardist Liz Rathe. The band doesn’t have a committed drummer, rather a lineup they cycle through. For “Be There,” Hunter Arias played drums, as well as served as producer through Shallot Records, his company that The Strangers worked with to produce their EP. 

The Strangers also don’t have one assigned singer. Instead, they operate on a “You write it, you sing it,” policy, according to Rathe, who wrote and sings “Be There.” She said the track is about the nostalgia of being at her grandparent’s farmhouse, which is the house depicted on the EP cover.

Simon Nabb described The Strangers’ music as a newer, dynamic version of Midwest rock. Isaac Nabb said the particular sound of “Be There” reminded him of a dreary summer day.

“It feels like a rainy afternoon after it’s been sunny all day, but the rain started at 2 p.m., and it’s just really mellow,” he said.

Kirilov said he values the dynamic sound the EP takes on.

“It’s something we wanted to stress on this EP, being able to go from really really soft, mellow sounds and be able to turn into a banger on a dime,” he said. “[‘Be There’] has both parts.”

Though the band identifies with Midwest rock, Isaac Nabb said the group didn’t want to be pigeonholed into one genre and felt the band members’ various influences made their music dynamic.

“One thing about our music is it’s not very definable,” he said. “You can’t put it in a box. That comes to play because we all have very vastly different influences, which, in my opinion, is something you need in a band. I think that’s what makes it so interesting.”

The members agreed the band’s collective influences were Fleetwood Mac, Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix, but each musician’s personal influences ranged wildly, from Isaac Nabb’s interest in Weezer and John Mayer to Kirilov’s enthusiasm for motown and alternative rap. Arias said the group sounded like Car Seat Headrest had been a big influence when The Strangers recorded the track in November 2020.

The Strangers were birthed during quarantine, so they’ve been developing in secret for the last eight months. Throughout the pandemic, Isaac Nabb has seen the group’s music change and develop.

“‘Be There’ has progressed from what it was to what it is on the single and what it’s going to sound like when it’s released,” he said. “It’s incredible to see the difference between the two of them.”

Simon Nabb said the original demo of “Be There” was much faster than the final song is. It also started off as just guitar, piano and drums, but ended with keys, bass, drums and two guitars.

The Strangers expect they’ll continue transforming as time goes on. They have music in the works that Rathe said are more grungy and heavily influenced by Nirvana. The group has also been asked to score a movie for the Paradise Film Company called “Good Times Bad Times,” a sign of their growing presence within Lincoln and Omaha’s artistic communities. 

Kirilov said the band is in good shape for a second record, which he said will also be produced by Shallot Records.

“For the EP, we put in so much time and really distilled it with our producer, who was nice enough to take the time with us to really define the sound of it,” he said. “So I think we’re in good shape to know how to hit the studio again when we do come out with a full-length album. I think you’ll be able to hear a lot of development.”