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And The Devil Went Up To Portland

by NHD

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about

“We never set our sights on making a record or being a band,” Salim Nourallah says of NHD, his new collaboration with fellow songwriters Billy Harvey and Alex Dezen. “There was just something about the three of us coming together that created this weird explosion of energy. We could tell right away from the very first song that there was some kind of special chemistry happening.”

That chemistry is the joyous heart of ‘And The Devil Went Up To Portland,’ the trio’s riotous debut record. Born out of a series of freewheeling and collaborative live tours, the album showcases a band built on equal parts humor and heart, one blessed with an embarrassment of artistic riches. Spare and direct in its production, the record captures the infectious lyrical wit and remarkably engaging presence of NHD’s three kindred frontmen, who, according to Austin NPR station KUTX, have already developed the kind of “depth and polish you would expect to find in long-running bands.” Each member of the group is a successful solo artist and bandleader in his own right, but the magic of NHD lies in its playful, Rat Pack-esque interplay. With nothing to prove, they made an album for the sheer fun of it, and the result is a whole that’s far greater than the sum of its already-remarkable parts.

Nourallah got his start nearly three decades ago in Texas, where he built up a reputation as something of a Lone Star Nick Lowe for his steady output of stellar solo and band material (Rolling Stone called him “a singer-songwriter who can stop time”) as well as his acclaimed work as a producer (he’s taken the wheel for four Old 97’s albums, as well as Rhett Miller’s self-titled album and The Damnwells’ eponymous reunion LP among others). Harvey, meanwhile, is more of a post-modern pop shapeshifter, a singer and songwriter and filmmaker and animator and producer and actor and poet who’s too eclectic to pin down for long. He’s played guitar for Patty Griffin and The Courtyard Hounds, produced records for Bob Schneider and Slaid Cleaves, and had his own songs hailed by the Austin Chronicle for their “pop patina and singer-songwriter essence.” Dezen, the youngest of the three, first came to international attention as the frontman of “charming” (NPR) Brooklyn indie rockers The Damnwells, who released five celebrated studio albums and shared stages with everyone from Cheap Trick to Bob Dylan. As a songwriter and guitarist on his own, Dezen has contributed to music released by a slew of stars, including Justin Bieber, The Dixie Chicks, Dave Grohl, the Jayhawks’ Gary Louris, Jason Derulo, Christina Perri, and Company of Thieves’ Genevieve Schatz.

Though their various paths had crissed and crossed during their long and winding careers, the three had never shared a bill until Nourallah “accidentally” set up a trio tour in Texas a few years back.

“I remember talking to Billy about doing some dates together, and then I thought that I’d better run them by Alex, too, expecting that one or the other would flake out on me,” laughs Nourallah. “It turned out they were both all in, and suddenly there were three of us for these shows. Billy and Alex had never met, but within 24 hours on the road, they were in the grips of a full-on mega bromance.”

“When you really connect with somebody, it can feel like you’ve known them for a long time,” reflects Harvey. “That’s what I experienced with Alex. I love his songs and we make each other laugh, and the same goes for Salim. That first tour was controlled chaos between fast friends.”

Their musical road trip was such a blast, in fact, that they did it again, and again after that. All three would sit onstage together for the duration of the shows, playing on each other’s songs and riffing on each other’s jokes. When Dixie Chicks fiddler Martie McGuire invited the trio to cut an album out of her HEK studio in Austin, it was too good of an offer to pass up.

“We only had a week to record because of each of our collective crazy schedules,” says Nourallah, “and several of the songs weren’t even written until we got into the studio. But I think while we were writing and recording there, that’s when it truly hit us that we had something real on our hands. We discovered this collective power as a group that none of us had had on our own.”

The album opens with a lighthearted, guitar-and-mandolin take on 70’s hit “The Boys Are Back In Town,” which has become something of an NHD theme song. With each member taking a verse and sharing call-and-response duties on the choruses, it sets the stage perfectly for what’s to come: a truly collaborative, blissful journey through the collective consciousness of three adventurous, inventive artists, each in possession of an endless supply of creativity both in front of and behind the microphone.

“We were all producing and throwing things at the wall,” says Dezen of the whirlwind recording sessions. “We were plugging stuff directly in, turning stuff up too loud, putting microphones in bathrooms.”

Nourallah’s songwriting contributions featured tracks that pre-dated NHD but had never found a home, like the beautifully off-kilter “I Sent A Postcard” and banjo-driven “You’re The Light,” and the same went for many of Harvey’s tracks, including the meditative “Complicatedness” and funky “Lose Or Take It All,” which were both drawn from a deep back catalog that Nourallah had always hoped would see the light of day.

“The songs I brought in didn’t change too drastically at their core,” says Harvey, “but they were definitely made better by the group. We traded instruments a lot and there’s something like voodoo in that.

Dezen’s entries in the NHD catalog were the most spontaneous of the bunch, with tracks like the cinematic “Hello From An Emergency Room In Hollywood” and clever “Somebody Loves Me” written primarily in a burst of inspiration in and around the studio, albeit with a healthy dose of collaboration with both of his bandmates.

“It’s fun to write and record that quickly because it doesn’t give you time to second guess,” Dezen explains. “Salim contributed a lot on the lyrical side, taking an idea or title of mine and whipping it into a story, and then Billy would tear the songs open and put a heart inside.”

In the end, heart is what it’s all about for a band like NHD. Without the weight of expectation or pressure, they were free to follow their collective muse and create an album that channeled all the joy and madness they’d experienced on the road. ‘And The Devil Went Up To Portland’ is a pure product of friendship and mutual artistic respect, but more than that, it’s a much-needed reminder of just how much fun making music can—and should—be.

credits

released October 20, 2017

Played, sung, hammered, produced by NHD
Salim Nourallah, Billy Harvey, Alex Dezen

Recorded March 2016 at HEK Austin
Engineered by Jim Vollentine
Additional engineering by Matt Hibbard, Billy Harvey, Salim Nourallah & Kyle Crusham
Mixed by Matt Hibbard at Pleasantry Lane, Dallas, Texas
Mastered by Stephen Marcussen, Los Angeles, California
Design by Bob Schneider


Alex Dezen songs administered by PASA Songs BMI
Billy Harvey administered by itaintheavysongs ASCAP
Salim Nourallah administered by Nourallah Factory Music ASCAP

Thank you Sarah Henry & Palo Santo Records, Martie Maguire, Lorna Nash, Jim Vollentine, Bob Schneider, Kyle Crusham, Jason Garner

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Track Name: The Boys Are Back In Town
The Boys Are Back In Town
words & music by Phil Lynott

Guess who just got back today
Them wild-eyed boys that had been away
Haven't changed that much to say
But man, I still think them cats are crazy

They were askin' if you were around
How you was, where you could be found
Told 'em you were livin' downtown
Drivin' all the old men crazy

The boys are back in town
(The boys are back in town)

The boys are back in town
(The boys are back in town again)

You know that chick that used to dance a lot
Every night she'd be on the floor, shakin' what she got
When I say she was cool she was red hot
I mean, she was steamin'

And that time over at Johnny's place,
Well, this chick got up and she slapped Johnny's face
Man, we just fell about the place
If that chick don't want to know, forget her

[CHORUS]

Spread the word around
Guess who JUST GOT back in town
Just spread the word around

Friday night they'll be dressed to kill
Down at Dino's Bar 'n' Grill
The drink will flow and the blood will spill
And if the boys want to fight, you better let 'em

That jukebox in the corner blastin' out my favorite song
The nights are getting warmer, it won't be long
Won't be long till the summer comes
Now that the boys are here again

[CHORUS]
Track Name: Hello From An Emergency Room In Hollywood
Hello from an emergency room in Hollywood
words & music by alex dezen & salim nourallah

i was having reservations about the state of our relationship
then i felt the palpitations and a wave of desperation hit
Hello, from an emergency room in Hollywood

Billy said he'd drive me ‘cause i was feeling kinda queasy bout all of it
doing 90 in a 30
it was just too easy how the words fell from your lips
Hello, from an emergency room in Hollywood

you said you'd call
yeah, you said you'd call me

well they threw me out for certain
in a robe of paper curtains with my ass hanging out of it
i was standing on the curb when
some guy poked me in the side and said “come on gimme your wallet!”
“i want all your money!"
i said "i don't have a dime..."
"Well then buddy you'll be sorry when i stick you with this knife"
Hello, it’s me again
Hello, won’t somebody listen to me
Hello, from an emergency room in Hollywood
Track Name: I Sent A Postcard
i sent a postcard
words & music by salim nourallah

i sent a postcard from southern France
where i played in a pub but nobody danced
a guy in the back swore at me in French
Wreckless Eric almost hit him with a wooden bench
we sang songs so loud that we barely knew
i sang one that i’d made especially for you
a girl with an accent gave me the eye
in her smile there hid the promise of a different life

i sent you a postcard from Germany
where my son ate apples in an orchard happily
the breezy haired one with the childish grin
carried him on his shoulders easy as the wind
and i sent a postcard from Amsterdam
found the meaning of life in an open hand
i called collect from a hotel bar
i cried love is the reason, love is all we are

i sent a postcard from Mexico
where i laid on a beach with a tortured soul
i'd married a girl with no love for me
she left me there adrift on the cruelest sea
i sent these postcards address unknown
hoped they’d find an answer or a loving home
how could i know that they would all come to you?

you’re the person all along that i was writing to
you’re the person all along who i was writing to
all these postcards i sent, i sent for you
Track Name: Lose Or Take It All
LOSE OR TAKE IT ALL
words & music by Billy Harvey

You didn't plan it,
trouble comes when it comes
You can't stand it,
but you would have never run
I know
that you already know who you are
You're a fighter
A Prize wire walker
Doesn't matter how far you fall
it's Lose or take it all
Loser take it all

Ut oh.

You didn't plan it,
trouble comes and it goes
But you can't stand it,
cause you already know what you know
You're a fighter
A Prize wire walker
Doesn't matter how far you fall
it's Lose or take it all
Loser take it all

Ut oh.
Track Name: Ballad Of A Patient Man
ballad of a patient man
words & music by alex dezen & salim nourallah

waiting as i get out of bed
put on some clothes, screw on my head
have a cup and go off to work
sit in a mess, drive like a jerk
i know i’m probably hopeless
but i’ll do whatever it takes ‘til you notice
i wait…i wait…i’m waiting for you

waiting as i sweep up the room, pick up my clothes,
try on some shoes
make some dinner, take out the trash,
send you a note, look for the cat
maybe you’re doing some laundry?
or dozing off in front of the TV?
i wait…i wait…i’m waiting for you

you think i’m probably crazy
but sometimes i can’t wait anymore
i wait…i wait…i wait…i wait…

waiting for you everyday, in every way
i’m gonna wait
waiting for you everyday, i wait and i wait,
i’m gonna wait
Track Name: Devil's Dice
DEVIL’S DICE
words & music by Billy Harvey

Devil's dice devil's dice I'm gonna roll the devil's dice
Being bad sure feels nice I'm gonna roll the devil's dice

She's one tough cookie I am a son of a gun
She plays for keeps I play for fun
I heard somebody say that the good die young
I'm gonna do some livin' tonight

You might think that I move too fast
when she says yes I hear hell yeah
If you got the wheels I got the gas
gonna do some livin’ tonight

I was drinking tequila from a cowboy boot
the band was playing just as loud as they do
she said if you want to I want to too...
devil's dice devil's dice we're gonna roll the devil's dice
Being bad sure feels nice gonna roll the devil's dice

When I give her hell she lets me know
We can put on a show
We both win however it goes

devil's dice devil's dice we're gonna roll the devil's dice
Being bad sure feels nice gonna roll the devil's dice

Let's roll...
Track Name: Gimme A Go
gimme a go
words by salim nourallah, alex dezen & martie maguire
music by salim nourallah with additional guitars by Kyle Crusham

follow you wherever you go, i’ll follow
follow you wherever you lead
follow you wherever you go, i’ll follow
follow you right into the sea

head so heavy i can barely stand
my body’s begging for me to sleep
has it been ten minutes, hours, weeks?
the time, well it don’t matter to me

straight up to heaven, heaven down below
straight up to heaven, straight to hell i know
straight up to heaven, straight to hell

so when you gonna give me a, when you gonna give me a go?
when you gonna give me a, when you gonna give me a go?

follow you through Summer, Fall & Winter
falling off the edge of the world
follow you wherever if we’re together
doesn’t matter how much it hurts
eyes so deep like the blackest sea
i’m drowning in this new way to breathe
skin like a hungry fire underneath me
i need you to be all that i need

straight up to heaven, heaven down below
straight up to heaven, straight to hell i know
straight up to heaven, straight to hell
so when you gonna give me a, when you gonna give me a go?
when you gonna give me a, when you gonna give me a go?
when you gonna give me a / when you gonna give me a
when you gonna give me a / when you gonna give me a a go?
Track Name: Complicatedness
Complicatedness
words & music by Billy Harvey

i did all the things to make me feel young
i did all the things to be did and be done i did all the things
i did all the things to help me feel good
i did all the things to be bad cause i could i did all the things
and if i say i will see you again sometimes again is only pretend
before i knew you i knew you were a mess
but i came to crave your complicatedness

i did all the fighting the fighting could do
i stood for my own i was only for you
the sky gets heavy with the words of man
and all of the things that we don't understand
so we pray to the shiva or budda or christ
there are so many ways to get your advice
i went to the mountain i hugged a few trees
sorry i was late but i lost my keys
before i knew you i knew you were a mess
but i came to crave your complicatedness

we don't have to try so hard
we don't have to try so hard

before i knew you i knew you were a mess
but i came to crave your complicatedness
Track Name: Somebody Loves Me
Somebody Loves Me
words by Alex Dezen, Salim Nourallah & Billy Harvey
music by Alex Dezen

I live in a house in the middle of the street
No one comes to see me,
No not any day but I know
Somebody loves me

I work at a job seven days of the week
Who is my boss, some guy I never see
But I know
Somebody pays me

And now I watch the sun
Beating on the red Corvette that my neighbor bought
On the Internet
It sits there in the driveway
Shining like a diamond ring

I like to have a little fun
Sitting right here in my bed watching Dragnet
Listening to cassettes
That somebody gave me way back in the Navy
A big guy named Baby
I think he might be dead

I go to a church, it’s a little run down
I pray to a god that might be white or brown
I don’t know
But someone will save me

I go out to eat maybe three days a week
I wear sweatpants and the dollar menu’s cheap
And I know
Someone will feed me

And now I watch the sun
Beating on the red Corvette that my neighbor bought
On the Internet
It sits there in the driveway
Shining like a diamond ring

I like to have a little fun
Sitting right here in my bed watching Dragnet
Listening to cassettes
That somebody gave me way back in the Navy
A big guy named Baby
I think he might be dead
Someone will save me
Right
Someone will love me
I think it might be you

I go to a place and I sit on the couch
I tell them what’s wrong and they figure it out
And I know
These pills gonna fix me

I go to the bank, I run a red light
Cameras everywhere, even up in the sky
And I know
Someone will find me

And now I watch the sun
Beating on the red Corvette that my neighbor bought
On the Internet
It sits there in the driveway
Shining like a diamond ring

I like to have a little fun
Sitting right here in my bed watching Dragnet
Listening to cassettes
That somebody gave me way back in the Navy
A big guy named Baby
I think he might be dead

Come on, somebody save me
I know someone will love me
Someone will love me
Yeah
Someone will love me
I think it might be you
Track Name: You're The Light
you’re the light
words & music by salim nourallah

turn on the TV
tales of hate, death, destruction, despair
survey the newspaper
the world's a disaster out there
chasing money, chasing fame, the power hungry & the vain
a shit parade of ever present grief
where's understanding?
where is the love & the peace?

you're the light
you're the light i seek
you're the light
you're the light i need

i drink the poison
you turn it in to sweet wine
i let the noise spill in
you silence it all with a smile
i am you & you are me & we are where we're meant to be sounds nice in theory
‘til reality
comes kicking at my door
but you'll be there waiting with me
there's so much darkness
threatening to close in all around
you are the spark that keeps the shadows out

you're the light
you're the light i seek
you're the light
you're the light i need
you're the light
you're the light i see
you're the light
you're the light i need
Track Name: You Thought You'd Be In Heaven
You Thought You'd Be In Heaven
words & music by Billy Harvey

You thought you'd be in heaven but you're not
You'll know when your dead that hell is too hot
You thought you'd be in heaven but you're not

Be nicer to the people that you know
Smile sometimes it's a better way to go
Be nicer to the people that you know

Today is forever and forever can be a spell
So make your own heaven or be a dick
and let your Heaven turn to hell

When you see my blinker please just let me in
If I get home first is that such a fucking sin
When you see my blinker please just let me in

Don't talk about somebody you don't know
Maybe have a conversation bout' somewhere you wanna go
But don't talk about that bitch that you don't know

Today is forever and forever can be a spell
So make your own heaven or be an asshole
and let your Heaven turn to hell

and be a better parent to your kids
Don't do the same things that your bad parents did
Just be a better parent to your kid
Of course there is no way to pass this test
We don't want to do our worst but if our worst is our best
Then you know you are no better than the rest

Today is forever and forever can be a spell
So make your own heaven or be a chump
and let your Heaven turn to hell

You thought you'd be in heaven but you're not

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