(MIAMI, FL) — Up and coming rock band better strangers released their first album single “But I Don’t Know Your Name” on all streaming platforms on April 8, 2022. The track was released independently.
Sentimental blockages are unfolding… the unloading of heavy emotional disturbances is perfectly described by these three words. “But I Don’t Know Your Name” centers on the story of an innocent, platonic fixation that quickly turns into a dark, deranged obsession.
The track draws musical inspiration from ’90s alternative rock icons and recontextualizes their musical contributions for the present and the future. For Nic Collins, the hypnotic drum machine was an ode to legendary industrial band Nine Inch Nails, while the organic drum styling pays homage to his drum hero, the late Foo Fighters great Taylor Hawkins.
Better Strangers is an intersectional experience that blurs lines and ignores categories. It’s abrasive and without compromise. It’s dynamic, authentic and expansive. Its members come from different corners of the world, because his music draws from the different corners of human creation in a unique synthesis of genres. Influenced by the best elements of hard rock, psychedelic, hip hop, metal, grunge, progressive, and shoegaze, Better Strangers occupies its own space in the music continuum – while paying homage to the giants on whose shoulders he stands. Better Strangers bring it back by pushing it before.
The band consists of the lead singer fromCasaguitarist Joey Rodriguezbass player Yang Waingartenand drummer Nic Collins. “But I Don’t Know Your Name” was written and recorded at Brain Injury Studios in Dania Beach, Florida, and mixed by the Grammy winner James ‘Jimmy T’Meslinwith the clip directed by Andres Birnbaum.
The band formed in the unlikely town of Miami, Florida; -another dimension where Latin, electronics and hip hop dominate the local scene. This musical culture could be credited with inspiring some of the track’s most modern and electronic sounds; another might claim that the song’s main influences come from the alternative music giants of the 90s, as well as rock contemporaries like Royal Blood, Young The Giant and Turnstile. Both would be correct.
On Saturday, March 26, 2022, Nic Collins sat behind the drums in front of a sold-out crowd at London’s O2 Arena for what would be Genesis’ final public performance – a final farewell for one of the most iconic bands in music history. With countless hits and deep cuts spanning over 50 years, it was a moving event for Genesis viewers and fans around the world. Nic’s performance was dedicated to Taylor Hawkins, who recently passed away in Colombia. The Foo Fighters drummer was Nic’s hero and friend. His death was a tragic loss for the music world.
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One would assume that such a high-pressure gig would be too much for a 20-year-old to handle, but for Nic it was 17 years in the making. Nic received his first drums when he was 2 years old and started playing when he was 3 years old. It wasn’t until seeing his father Phil Collins’ farewell tour in 2004 that a young Nic cemented his vision for his life as a musician. By the time of the 2016 ‘Not Dead Yet’ tour, Nic had spent over 12 years perfecting his craft before he got the opportunity to drum for one of the world’s most accomplished drummers. By the age of 15, Nic was performing in stadiums, arenas and iconic venues like the Royal Albert Hall, Hyde Park and Madison Square Garden. The tour crossed 4 continents and 25 countries in front of more than 2.1 million attendees. As a young teenager, Nic had achieved goals that most musicians do not achieve in their lifetime.
This experience, – combined with relentless practice, unbridled passion, a strong work ethic and vision – is what makes Nic one of the best drummers in the world. Music Radar included Nic as #2 on their fan vote list of “The 5 best prog drummers in the world right now”and Nic recently graced the cover of french drum magazine “Battery”.
While on a world tour with his dad, Nic took on dual duties as a drummer and one of the songwriters of Better Strangers, a group formed with longtime friends Yang Waingarten and Joey Rodríguez. Nic and Yang befriended in middle school when Nic left Switzerland to Miami. Waingarten (Bass) and Rodriguez (Guitar) are both virtuoso musicians in their own way and, like Nic, started their musical journey at an early age. Joey started playing guitar at age 8 while Yang started playing various musical instruments at the age of 6.
History tends to repeat itself. Much like the early days of Genesis, The Beatles and U2, the band’s origins can be dates back to college, where Waingarten and Collins formed their first band Countdown. the band played a cover: The White Stripes’ “7 Nations Army”. It wasn’t until 2015 when the band auditioned Rodriguez, that the core was formed. Over the next few years, the trio played under several different names, with several different singers. They performed covers, as well as their own funk, songs inspired by rock and jam.
The group gained notoriety in South Florida, building a fanbase and performing several high-profile gigs, including the opening of the Phil and Orianne Collins “Little Dreams Foundation” benefit concerts, as well as slots at the Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival and the Montreux Jazz Festival. The group regularly sold hipster bar Gramps in Wynwood, Miami. It is during such fairs that the unattainable goals of becoming world-class touring musicians have become accessible to Waingarten and Rodríguez.
In 2019, the band parted ways with their lead singer and were left speechless. For next year, the pure instrumental group practiced and written tirelessly. In 2020, the world came to a halt because of the COVID pandemic, and the search for a voice has been interrupted. The group was stuck in limbo.
They had all but given up when the power of social media drove the Austin, Texas-based “deCasa” singer. (Luis Santiago) came to them via Instagram. While scrolling through Instagram, deCasa came across an actress post Lily Collins had done about his brother Nic. He eventually found a message the group had posted a year earlier, in which the trio announced their search for a new singer. After debating by contacting the group for 2 weeks, deCasa emailed the group for review. Given the distance, the group sent him 2 demo tracks to write as an audition.
The musical chemistry was instantaneous and they started writing songs together from a distance much like The Postal The service did this in a pre-Zoom era.
The 4 started writing songs inspired by classic and contemporary bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Nine Inch Nails, Tool, Radiohead, the Smashing Pumpkins, Royal Blood, Turnstile, Tame Impala, Young The Giant and Porcupine Tree, all while returning to raw power and musicality of monolithic rock greats like Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath and Genesis.
Frontman deCasa and bassist Yang share a mutual love for big names in Latin rock such as Calle 13 and Black Guayaba
The lyrics are inspired by the life experiences of Casa’s lead singer. Some real, some surreal. “It’s hard for me to sing about things that I can’t really connect with. Most of what I write is directly inspired by personal stories or those of close friends. This authenticity has an effect huge on delivery when we are recording or performing live.
deCasa was born in Puerto Rico and raised on a combination of Latin music and rock icons of the era. The Matador Bongos were omnipresent in his grandparents’ country house, where his musical passions were born. “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t playing drums.”
Bongos turned to a toy drum kit, who turned to used kits, and in 7th grade, deCasa got his first classical guitar. After moving to Texas and leaving his drums behind, he immersed himself in the guitar, teaching himself by imitating John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
While studying computer engineering at Texas A&M, deCasa used his field of study to convince his parents to buy him a laptop computer, with which he would produce electronic music on GarageBand. Throughout his college years, he would work to support his musical habit, reuniting with drums, picking up bass, and producing his own music. “Then I ran into the problem of ‘No one will listen to my music without a voice’… do I hire a ghostwriter? How does that even work?
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So out of necessity, deCasa began writing and recording his own voice. Without any prior vocal training, he developed his own instinctive style and played in his natural rasp. He spent many weekends in Austin, Dallas and Houston in underground scenes, drawing inspiration from each city’s rich musical cultures. After presenting DIY shows all over Texas for a few years, he reached out to Better Strangers, where our story begins.
The band start 2022 by earning their stripes on the road, cutting their teeth playing clubs, festivals and slots in the US, UK and Europe.