2004_08_artssoma.jpgA New York based band with roots stemming worldwide, Soma has a classic sound that combines melodic pop, post punk, shoegazer and a new brand of soul. Impassioned lyrics float in the forefront of the multi-layered sonic landscape. Lyrics are pertinent to our times, one reason Gothamist thinks this band has the staying power we don't often see in the more novelty based bands. Soma is Skye Nicolas (vocals), Eric Zuehlke (guitar), Jeremy Foti (bass), Mike Weyhing (drums).
Eric and Skye took some time out for Gothamist last week, check out what they had to say in response to our hard-hitting questions...

What is your first conscious memory of living in New York?

Eric: I remember being taken out for a night of barhopping on Bleecker St my first night after moving here and thinking “Christ, it’s like I never left college in East Lansing”.

Skye: I remember having a bag full of subway tokens (a hundred dollars worth), given to me by my uncle. It was the first day I rode the subway and he met me at Grand Central Station and gave me all these tokens! I felt a bit ridiculous having to carry a heavy bag of tokens around the city, but I guess he’s one of those people who dosen’t trust metro cards.


What is your favorite/least favorite memory involving New York?

Eric: Some of my favorite memories are having parties at my old rent-controlled, ridiculously-cheap, ridiculously-large apartment on the upper west side during my first couple of years here. The place had been lived in for over 40 years and my roommate and I were able to live there to take care of this place. Least favorite memory is obviously 9/11 and walking home from work that day from 38th to 88th st. at 12pm.

Skye: I moved here back in the fall of ’99 straight from the west coast. I’ve never been to New York before and it seemed such an exciting place back then. It was the best time to party as it was on its last leg of the club culture before it died out. There were all these amazing clubs and parties, and I remember going out every night of the week and meeting all these amazing people. It was just a different time I guess, but it was fantastic.

Least favorite memory off the top of my head would be all the times I was skint. There was a time I used to live on 118th street and Broadway. I remember making a trip to the bodega every Wednesday to buy bagels and a carton of a dozen eggs, and that would be the week’s ration. It was such a miserable sight! But now when I look back (having gone through those difficult times) makes me appreciate all the blessings I have today, and all the great accomplishments I’ve made since.

What is your favorite place to drink in NYC? What’s the best night of the week to go out in the city?

Eric: Favorite place tends to change weekly. Right now, it’s all about the Czech beer garden in Queens. Trees, picnic benches, pitchers of good beer, and bratwursts and burgers! What more do you need?? There are always the standards like Lit (in small doses), Decibel, and Buttermilk when I lived in Brooklyn. The best night to go out is any night you plan on calling in sick the next morning.

Skye: I can’t really say as I don’t drink as much these days, but I used to enjoy a few local bars in the East Village that are not there anymore. Like Eric says, it changes every time and there aren’t any real favorites. I like going to places where I can feel relaxed, places I know the management and bar staff personally. I don’t like jam-packed places. I’m not one for crowded bars.

What is your favorite/least favorite thing about playing shows in New York? Is there a difference between shows in Manhattan and Brooklyn?

Eric: The least favorite aspect of playing in New York is the fact that there are little, if any, all ages venues. Everyone knows it’s teenagers who really get into music and are loud and enthusiastic. It’s great to have a huge variety of venues to play here, but at the same time, it makes people jaded. There’s very little true excitement and enthusiasm out there. I think people are searching for something new and different from the sounds that have dominated this scene for the past couple of years.

Do you think your New York connection shows in your music? If so, how?

Eric: Our lives in New York are definitely reflected in the music. The sense of urgency, independence, confidence, and a feeling of not being complacent with where you are now – the need to move on to bigger and better things - these are all issues we live with in this city. This city can kick your ass if you’re not careful between the 9 to 5 office life, noise, cliques, detachment, and lack of compassion out there and our music aims to break beyond all that.

Now its time for some fill-in-the-blank action:

“You know you’ve made it when….”

Eric: Fansites know more about your touring schedule than you do and working in an office if a far-off, distant dream from the past.

Skye: When a cab driver in an exotic place like Bali is singing one of our songs, but obviously has the words all wrong.

“It’ll be time to pack up the gear for good when….”

Eric: Our songs are used for the latest Coors Light commercials and we’re headlining the Warped tour.

Skye: You start to have these ridiculous arguments with the record company about silly ideas; like having Brian Wilson do a guest spot on the next record.

“I’ll never forget the first time I….”

Skye: Saw Stellastarr live at Tiswas, and I instantly thought they were rubbish! Yeah, it was shocking.

Eric: Woke up, found a receipt in my pocket, and realized that I shouldn’t put my bar tabs on my credit card anymore.

Lets have some fun with word association. Give me your immediate feelings on the following (if you’ve got no discernable feelings, make something up that won’t embarrass you in the morning):


Eric: Assholes

Skye: Wouldn’t know. Not into sports really… but I do know that Derek Jeter is one cocky prick.


Eric: Underdogs

Skye: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…


Eric: Bloated trainwreck

Skye: LA Times front cover / Easter Sunday double size special: “Good Year Blimp crashes into Santa Monica Pier.”

Bridge & Tunnel

Eric: Dressed on a Saturday night like you’re at the office and you like to shove into people on the way to ordering your Amstel Light at the bar.

Skye: Hordes of (Lord Of The Rings) Orcs, wearing pleated khakis and oversized polo shirts yelling “DUUUUDE!” after every Jagermeister shot.

The Darkness

Eric: Fun but forgotten in the U.S. in two years.

Skye: …

Times Square

Eric: A claustrophobic black hole of light, taxis, tourists, and noise from which there is no escape.

Skye: Oh lord! I can’t breathe! Where the hell are my pills?!

Bloomberg/Smoking Ban/Noise Laws

Eric: Continuing the tradition of dismantling the soul of this city.

Skye: Stanley Kubrick

Two quickies on the music tip:

Who would be in your ultimate music supergroup, your all-star Olympic team of rock?

Eric: Reni from the Stone Roses on drums, James Jamerson on bass, Jimmy Page, Eddie Hazel, and Nick McCabe on Guitars, Johnny Greenwood on effects and keys, and Bjork and Liam Gallagher taking turns on vocals playing at the ruins of Pompeii a 20-movement epic of the most fucked up psychedelic, groovy, rock masterpiece the world has ever heard and ending with John Bonham coming on stage and banging a huge Chinese gong for 15 minutes with fireworks going off.

Skye: Since Eric has already selected our heroes for this so-called rock Olympics, I’d like to present the draft for the opposing team:
The rhythm section will be comprised of two separate divisions which will play simultaneously for the entire duration of the concert. Division one will be lead by Lars Ulrich on drums, that new fat bassist from Metallica on 8 string bass, and little Avril Lavigne on tambourine. Division two will be lead by the Autumn To Ashes drummer, and all nine members of Slipknot on percussion. On lead guitar axe master Vernon Reid will take the stage one last time to display his fret board dexterity, while Monkey and Head of Korn provide lots of crunching riffs.

This is a grand event so we can’t just have Andrew WK banging on the piano by himself, so we’ll have Michelle Branch playing right by his side. Maestro Tom Delong of Blink 182 will lead the singers of The Liars, Cradle of Filth, and Seven Dust as the backing vocal troupe while harmonizing to the official Warped Tour Choir. You can’t have a super-band these days without some rapping, so spitting white boy rhymes will be the kids from Linkin Park (taking turns of course) and off-beat scratching by the cross-eyed Incubus DJ.

On lead vocals master Fred Durst will belt all his pain and anger, in contrast to the heartfelt emo whinings of Chris Carrabba. And finally to give this cacophonic masterpiece the horrendous sound it rightfully deserves, Felix The Housecat will be turning knobs at the soundboard.


What was the first/last album you bought on the day it was released?

Eric: The first album I bought on the day it came out was NWA’s Efil4zaggin in 7th grade. I couldn’t believe they sold it to me. I immediately put it in my walkman and biked home. Last album was probably Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief, which I bought at midnight because I couldn’t wait until the next day.

Skye: Things like an actual release date for records are treated differently in the Philippines, as there really isn’t one. It’s more like the week the record is to be released. The first album I bought the week it was released was Thriller. I was in 3rd grade at the time. The last album I bought (here in America) 2 weeks before its US release date was Oasis Standing In The Shoulder Of Giants. Played it for 2 months straight. I haven’t bought anything new since I don’t really find any of this new music exciting. These days I busy myself listening to old records from the ‘70s, discovering well-written music and brilliant artists.

2004_08_artssomacd.jpg•Catch Soma live this Tuesday, 8/3 @ Galapagos
with Unsound and Dream into Dust

•Listen to them now

•Buy their EP, New Life