Nero weren’t expecting to become one of the biggest electronic groups in the world when they dropped their first album (Welcome Reality) back in 2011.The success caught the British trio off-guard, and they got sucked into the routine of touring the world and sharing their music with anyone who would listen.
“It made it hard to make a second record, because we really weren’t expecting the success of the first record,” says Dan Stephens, one of the band’s founders. “Alana (Watson, Nero’s vocalist) was working as a midwife at the time, and she quit her job for it. We toured for three years for that record.”
Just a few months ago, the band released Between II Worlds, their long-awaited sophomore album. It sounds similar to the band’s original award-winning record, but it’s very obviously evolved significantly since the debut.
“It’s about getting people more interested in Nero again,” Stephens says. “It’s more diverse than the first record, and it’s definitely more like a band than a group of DJs. We were more focused on writing songs and verses rather than focusing on specific BPMs so people could use it in clubs.”
To show off those new tracks, Nero will be performing at the Observatory in Santa Ana on December 30. As much as Between II Worlds is based around a band, the OC performance will be a little different than what you might normally hear.
“We’re really a band because we’ve got a full-time frontwoman,” Stephens says. “We’re more of a band than producers, because while most EDM acts are featuring different singers, we have Alana. We’re more of a band than an EDM act, but this show will be stripped back to basics for us as a DJ set.”
At this point, Nero’s worked with many of the biggest electronic artists and producers out there. It’d be easy for them to recruit names like Skrillex to add a big name to the new album — and Stephens says the band considered adding several noteworthy names — but that’s not really what they’re about.
“The success didn’t change how we wrote the record,” Stephens says. “We’re not changing what we do for what others are doing.”
Of course, four years between albums can be a disastrous blow to a band’s relevancy. Nero’s managed to keep people relatively interested thanks to their constant touring and international accolades, but Stephens acknowledges that it probably shouldn’t (and won’t) be too long before their next album. At the same time, they’ll take as long as necessary to make the album they want to make.
“I think electronic albums are dying as an art form,” Stephens says. “A lot of bands are just putting out singles and not even whole albums. Our whole album can be listened to straight through, and we’re very proud of what we’ve done with it. It’s just about getting the music out there to people.”
Nero will be performing at the Observatory on December 30 at 11:00 p.m. Tickets cost $30 and are available through the Observatory's website.