For a band that specializes in the slow, melancholy alt-rock usually reserved for angst-ridden, whining musicians, Neva Dinova sure doesn't act the part.
"We're a pile of drunk, galavanting jackasses that love being fat and ugly and stupid," said frontman Jake Bellows, possibly joking, but definitely erasing suspicions of depression and distress.
In fact, Bellows hardly seems "tormented," like some of his Omaha indie contemporaries pretend to be.
But after 13 years of playing in Neva Dinova, Bellows has no need to fake anything. He just plays what he thinks sounds best and hopes his listeners don't throw beer cans at him.
"We just like playing music," he said. "We don't put any schematic or artistic constraint on it. If someone wanted to play some goofy-ass, double-bass heavy metal, we'd give it a whirl."
It's a formula that Neva Dinova's used for years, and it works. The band looks to prove it Wednesday night at the 9th Street Basement, 227 N. Ninth St.
That formula probably kept the band together all these years, Bellows said. In an environment in which a band is lucky to stay together 18 months, Neva Dinova has stuck together with a few lineup changes since Bellows and bandmate Heath Koontz first picked up guitars back in 1992.
"We started learning about the same time," Bellows said. "We kinda started it off and we wanted to play music, but we sucked so bad that we couldn't. Well, we tried anyway. I think real musicians wouldn't have bothered."
But Bellows and Koontz heard songs in their heads, and for Bellows writing music became a process of slowly making his thoughts reality.
"(Songwriting) is trying to get the songs as close to the vision you have for it," he said. "But it takes some experimenting. One of the guys might play a guitar part and we'll say, That was great, can you do that again?' and he says, No, I don't remember what I just did.'
"Other times someone will play a part and we'll say, That part sucked, don't ever play that again. Take a break and grab us some beers.'"
The trial-and-error process comes in handy for Neva Dinova. Many of their mistakes turn into guitar effects for future songs. In fact, the band relies heavily on guitar sounds, fitting for a group that has three count 'em, three guitar players.
"None of us are exemplary guitar players," Bellows said. "To have one guitar would mean one guitar part."
Having three guitars means each musician covers the others' weaknesses, Bellows explained. It also facilitates counter melodies and music one guitarist couldn't pull off alone.
"We figure out each other's tones so we're not stepping on each other's toes," Bellows said.
After realizing their visions, Bellows doesn't prefer recording over playing live, or vice versa. He likes them both.
"I like recording a lot," he said. But playing live, you bring in how you're feeling that day. Some nights you can do a song better than you've ever done it because of where everyone in the band is at."
Bellows said if he's "feeling it" Wednesday, those who go to the show can expect well, duh, a concert.
"I imagine they can expect us to play a few songs, visit a bit, have a few beers," he said.
If his concert forecast is too blunt, those who go can be sure they'll hear Neva Dinova's mellow, sadly upbeat songs, riddled with weirdness and peppered with subtle humor.
Catch them now, though. Neva leaves for a national tour with Mayday a few days after the show. And just as they do writing, recording and playing, the band is sure to enjoy the hell out of that, too.
"We don't take what we do too seriously," Bellows said. "We're just trying to do it the best that we can."
Reach Joel Gehringer at 473-7254 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
What: Neva Dinova with The Golden Age and Dan McCarthy
Where: Ninth Street Basement, 227 N. Ninth St.
When: Wednesday, 9 p.m.
Admission: $17, 18 and over