Band of the Week: Y-O-U

Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back: The Fire and Ice of Nick Niespodziani and Pete Olson

Music Features Y-O-U
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Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
Members L-R: Pete Olson, Clay Cook, Nick Niespodziani, Mark Cobb

In some ways, Nick Niespodziani and Pete Olson are like a young married couple.

They’ve been playing together since the mid ’90s when they monopolized the student council and chose their own band to play the prom. They’ve experienced highs and lows together, they have a system for collaborating on songs and, dare I say it, they finish each others’ sentences.

The two are very different in demeanor and taste, but since opposites attract, maybe that’s what makes their collaborations pop. Olson likes Back to the Future II better than III. Niespodziani thinks he’s crazy. Niespodziani studied English in college, Olson got his degree in Exercise Science. Opposites don’t just attract in relationships, they attract in music, too.

About their creative process, Niespodziani says “most of the time, I come in with an initial idea, and I bring it to Peter first. And we kind of hash it out more. A lot of times, he’ll write the bridge, or the chorus, or edit the lyrics. Or say, ‘that sounds like a Tesla song.’” To which Olson fires back, “And you’re like, OK, I like Tesla.’” So maybe the system isn’t perfect, but they’re churning out ideas all the time and they pride themselves on bringing something new to every performance.

Presumably joking, Niespodziani has called himself the band’s “resident bitch,” but attitudes aside, he and Olson are the backbone of Y-O-U and are largely responsible for the band’s growing repertoire. Its website features a series of music videos, both live-action and animated, as well as some installments from a mockumentary still in progress. Both the music and images provide a window into the lives of Y-O-U’s members because Niespodziani says he starts his songs with a real story from his experiences and combines this truth with fictional elements or ideas from movies and books.

Niespodziani expands on the concept, “[I] make it into the story of how it should have been. To make a good story rather than the one that is true. Because…” Olson cuts in, “…The truth usually sucks.” Their dynamic is founded on an old friendship that can go from silly to sarcastic to business and back again, and it’s noticeable in the band’s music. Whether these guys are joking around or discussing the finer points of making money in the biz, they really just want to make good music. And how will they know they’ve achieved this? “You could be in the car, and Tom Petty comes on the radio and you can’t get out … I want to create that.”

(For more on Y-O-U, check out the band's site, pleaserock.com.)

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