By Colin Murphy
Not Like Igor drummer Nick Fredrickson leans against the wall of his basement and practice space as we both watch guitarist and singer Maxwell Moore pace the floor. The two are contemplative in their speech, reserved in their manner. “The best shows I ever have are when I can just let go of every thought—just let go, just be in that space,” says Nick. “Forget about your worries, just give it your all.”
Not Like Igor lets go onstage, where the Lawrence-based band’s persistent energy ebbs from dancy and upbeat into driving, heart wrenching swells. Moore’s voice holds softer melodies with childlike vulnerability, but on the constant brink of growing into a scream—which he often does. Personal and poignant, Igor’s lyrics hit home like Moore has been reading your diary and is giving you the words you wish you had been able to articulate, all while telling his own story. Their album This is Just To Say is “One-hundred percent autobiographical,” Moore said. “The entire LP was mostly to do with my girlfriend at the time, and her role in bringing me out of a really shitty period in my life and making me feel like it’s okay to care about people.”
Math rock inspired guitar spins an intricate backdrop to frame Igor’s songs before settling into grooves that are guaranteed to get their audience moving. Nick’s drum style is primal yet calculated, innovatively driving the songs forward with a presence that is hard to tear your attention from. His demure manner sheds completely as he really loses himself to the music, which encourages the audience to do the same. With the addition of bassist and younger brother Andy Fredrickson, who creatively fills out what space was left open in the songs that were first written for two, Igor’s music has become layered and rich. All throughout Not Like Igor’s dynamic performance, you can’t shake the sense of sincerity and urgency that comes through at every moment. Every hit of the drum, every word mumbled or yelled is there because the band needs to put it out there, and they need you to hear it.
“That kind of show is not expected, but it’s inevitable, because that’s what people in the emo community are doing,” Moore says. “They’re baring their soul, and they’re showing that it’s okay to have them, and be vulnerable and get up on the stage with people who are going through the same shit you’re going through every day. So it’s been wholly cathartic to have my friends and the people in the Lawrence and KC music scene to get up right next to me, and to bare their soul along with me.”
Seeing it live feels as authentic as Moore claims, but it wouldn’t be so if not for the support of Igor’s fans, and their ability to be vulnerable back. “It helps that people come up to us afterwards and tell me that the lyrics and music touched them in some way,” Moore says. “When I first started playing shows it was so hard for me to get up and do that, it was so scary for me to get up there and talk about things like my parents divorce . . . The fact that people tell us that it’s relatable and that it’s getting them through shit and that it’s helping get through things in their lives that I’ve been able to relate with, then it’s hugely inspirational to me and it completely affords me the strength to do it once every week or once every two weeks like we’ve been doing.”
This connection to fans is what gives their style of music purpose, the band believes, and something unique to the genre. Moore continues, “I think that if Nick and Andy and I were to play shows and afterwards no one said anything then it would seem like what we were doing wasn’t relatable, and that would scare the fuck out of me—I don’t think I would be able to play music anymore if that was the case. Because it is very vulnerable to go up and not sing about going drinking on the weekend, but instead singing about things that are sometimes deep and dark and would otherwise be a total secret to those people.” Deep and dark aptly describes the tone of the band’s lyrics, but Not Like Igor is also relentlessly clever. Their particular brand of heart-heavy dissatisfaction is convicting, breaking down any barrier between the band and their audience, pushing everyone in attendance into the same headspace.
The band took their emo influence south last January when they toured through Texas, coming back with nothing but praise for the house shows going on in that region. “The shows were exceptional,” Fredrickson and Moore agreed. “Playing a house show in Houston where our style of music does thrive and house shows happen often, and people come without it feeling like you have to pull their teeth because they’re coming and they’re bringing money to support touring bands and bring their own beer to drink, and they treat their house shows like we treat our parties here. Instead of people just congregating and drinking beer, people are congregating and drinking beer and listening to great music. I’ve been watching videos and seeing this sort of things for years and it was so great to finally go and be a part of it.”
Not Like Igor hopes to release a second full length album this coming winter. Their current releases are available at notlikeigor.bandcamp.com for streaming and download, and be sure not to miss their October 28th show at Davey’s Uptown Bar in Kansas City, Missouri! If you can’t make it out (or can’t plan a month in advance) keep an eye on Mass Street—this band comes with a live show you can’t miss.