By Adam Lovinus
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Nima Kazerouni didn't name his black terrier Nico in honor of the singer whose heavily accented tones graced the Velvet Underground's debut album. And the So Many Wizards song "Nico" is about the dog, not the late German chanteuse. But that didn't stop Lou Reed—yes, the Lou Reed—from contacting the So Many Wizards singer and asking if he could spin the tune on his satellite-radio show, New York Shuffle.
The band started as a solo project in 2008 after Kazerouni moved to Long Beach. At shows, he would set up behind him televisions showing videos of friends playing along. Eventually, the band moved from virtual members to physical ones—Erik Felix (drums) and Warren Woodward (bass). They've just released a new 7-inch, Inner City/Best Friends, which shows a transition from electronically driven melancholia to optimistic pop. In advance of the band's upcoming show at Avalon Bar, Kazerouni spoke to us from a beach somewhere in LA County—with Nico cavorting in the background.
OC Weekly: How did your new vinyl come together?
Nima Kazerouni: "Inner City" and "Best Friends" both deal with my move from Hermosa Beach to downtown Long Beach in a really bad area. It was a culture shock because Hermosa was this little bubble of happiness, and the area of Long Beach where I lived, there was crack being dealt down the street. "Inner City" was this reaction against this big change in my situation. It has a lot of anxiety in it. "Best Friends" is a reaction from moving from Long Beach to Koreatown. It's where I come to terms with that culture shock. We recorded it in Orange with Greg Doyle, who produced it. He has a really awesome studio.
That's a lot different from your last EP, Love Songs for When You Leave Me.
That was a hard album for me. I had a lot of issues at the time. My parents were getting a divorce, so that really affected me. I was also going through some inter-relationship issues with my girlfriend. I had been with her for five years, so you can only imagine the ups and downs that occur in such a long stand of time. The idea is for people to relate to the songs. They're super-personal. I write pop songs. They sound scrappy, but they're pretty intense. The subject matter just poured out of me, and that's the best writing, actually.
Would you say you've moved on from that stage of your life, and that's why your new songs don't really touch on the trials of love?
Yeah, the new songs deal with another part of my life, where I'm starting to realize I'm 28 years old, and it's all about what's important. It's a reflection on that. It's pretty positive, pretty hopeful. I hope people get that and are inspired with whatever they're going through.
Do you notice a difference between playing shows in LA and playing in Long Beach?
When you play in Long Beach, you're not going to get a lot of the things you encounter in LA. It's more laid-back; there's this community. LA is like that in bits and pieces. We try to not play in Hollywood because you're going to encounter people who aren't really into the music. At places like Pehrspace or the Smell, you have that community, thank goodness. There are not a lot of places like that.
This column appeared in print as "The Velvet Touch."