The Dystopians latest band to record with Parkland label
“Go on three,” a recording technician says.
There are a few seconds of silence, then the slew of a cord on an electric guitar as 18-year-old Reece Niccum of Oakwood High School strums out notes. The recording studio is packed with technicians and the other band members but is silent except for the music coming from Niccum’s guitar. After a minute, the music ceases.
“How was that?” Niccum asks, as he looks up from his instrument.
The other two members of the band, 18-year-old bass player Matthew Nale and drummer Ian Clemmons, sit on the studio’s couch listening intently.
“Try waiting a few more beats,” Nale replies. “You can start on four on this next one.”
The Dystopians are an Illinois band that recently recorded an album through Parkland’s record label, Perimeter Road Sound Recordings.
The trio have been recording their first collaboration with Perimeter Road for several days now. Reece’s session is just one piece that must fit with the others cohesively to make it all work. Niccum says that this cohesion is much easier to maintain in a band with only three members.
“I really, really like how we work together as a trio,” he states. “Having such a small amount of people in band kind of cuts out extra BS. It’s straight to the point.”
Although the three have been playing together since middle school, their own official band, The Dystopians, has only been a reality for about a year-and-a-half.
Although all three agree “alternative” would be the best label for their style, there is certain sense of diversity they try to maintain.
“When we first started out we kind of set out to touch base on a lot of different genres and I think we’ve done pretty well with that so far,” Niccum says.
Each band member brings their own early inspirations into the mix and the group as a whole maintains influences from groups such as “Muse,” “Rage Against the Machine,” and “The Foo Fighters.” Because of this variety in influences Clemmons says that anyone coming to one of their shows should arrive without any expectations.
“Every show we try to mix it up and keep it different,” Clemmons says. “We’re definitely starting to test new water right now [and] trying to keep it new and fresh.”
The band’s formation story is an unlikely one, with each member only knowing each other through their experiences at a week-long, annual summer camp called First Gig Rock N’ Roll Camp in Danville. They first met here in 2012.
From there, they began playing cover music together when they could, despite the long distances the three would have to travel to practice together.
“It was this huge triangle and we all had to find this central place to meet all the time,” Niccum states.
More often than not, practices would simply be in the basement of Nale, who recently graduated from Georgetown-Ridge Farm High School. This is a tradition the band continues to this day.
After five years of playing covers, the group decided to try their hand at creating their own music.
“I started talking to these guys about just doing originals with the band and they were all immediately on board with it and almost immediately started writing music and started getting things off the ground,” Niccum says.
Their first gig was opening in a comic book store music venue in Danville, Ill., for which they handed out their own fliers. Soon they went on to win Battle of the Bands in Watseka, Ill. Now, they are going to their first gig in Chicago, opening at the famous House of Blues.
Niccum, Nale, and Clemmons enjoy the crowds they play for. Niccum says they serve a key role when their band plays a gig.
“You’ve got to have that energy radiating,” Niccum says. “If you’ve got a crowd that’s kind of weak, it’s hard. But if you’re going hard and the crowd’s loving it, there’s no roof.”
Nale agrees with this sentiment.
“You’re just feeding off each other,” Nale says.
The Dystopians are currently scheduled to open for “Green Jelly” at Vintage Villains in Danville, Ill. on March 3 and to play at the Low Dough Show on March 25 at the Watseka Theatre in Watseka, Ill. Their first gig in Chicago, which all three members are “very hyped for,” is scheduled for April 10.
The members are nothing but optimistic when looking further down the road. With one album already out and a second “way ahead of schedule” according to Nale, Niccum certainly says The Dystopians will “be around making music” for a while to come.
When it comes to their time recording at Parkland, the group has nothing but good things to say as well.
“We’re super pumped to have this opportunity with Perimeter,” Niccum says. “We had a show last time after the recording session and it was cool to see all the students coming out supporting us. I’m glad they can be a part of it and I just think the whole thing is so awesome.”
For more information and future shows, find “The Dystopians” on social media. For more information about Perimeter Road Sound Recordings visit their website at faa.parkland.edu/prsr.