Universe Contest: “You Can’t Do Anything Great Alone”

photo by Bridget McQuillan

Fresh off a national tour for their second album, We Are The Rattlesnake, Universe Contest will be playing on hometown turf once again tomorrow for Hear Lincoln 2014 on the Celebrate Lincoln stage. They’ll also be playing a show at Omaha’s Venue 51 on Saturday.

Known for their high-octane live performances, sometimes done in costumes, ranging from green suits to banana hammocks, they’ve consistently packed venues and bars around Lincoln. Whether they plan to tone down their trademark theatrics for their upcoming set is anyone’s guess; their performances are as unpredictable as they are explosive.

We Are The Rattlesnake has its surprising moments, as well. Where their live performances are often an endless onslaught of powerful, synth and drum-driven choruses and anthems, there are clear moments of clarity and calm on the album. Tracks like “The Question Part II: Lousy Dreams”, and “Remember” gradually crescendo to huge, anthemic peaks from more serene, almost ambient beginnings.

Drummer Brenton Neville took a shot at our Hear Lincoln 2014 questionnaire below, and touches on his favorite song by a Lincoln group, regret, and memories of his early days as a musician in Lincoln, before Universe Contest.

RSVP for the show here.

photo by Andrew Dickinson

Hear Nebraska: What was your first public show in Lincoln, how did it go?

Brenton Neville: I played at the open stage at the Chatterbox back when Jeremiah Moore (Box Awesome/ Bourbon Theatre) was bar-tending / hosting. That night changed my life forever.

HN: How are you different now?  

BN: Complete 180. I was in the military, knew nothing of good music and was playing in a hippie band.

HN: What’s your earliest musical memory?  

BN: Singing along to Beach Boys harmonies in my parents’ car while living in Panama.

HN: Do you think there is a disconnect between Lincoln’s creative community and business community?  

BN: Yes and no. I think one exists, but I would not say it is across the board.

HN: Why or why not? If so, do you see a solution?  

BN: Businesses need to respect that, as an artist, the most important thing is to have your art presented in a stress-free environment as you envisioned it being presented. Artists need to respect that the business community is just that, a community of businesses. Many problems between artists and the the business community arise from money. Businesses cease to exist without money, money is not the devil but rather a necessity for this side of the equation. Artists must not be turned off by money discussions and be willing to accept that part of their growth is also sharing it with other paid persons.

HN: What’s one piece of constructive criticism you think has helped you in the time you’ve been playing/writing music?  

BN: You can’t do anything great alone.

HN: Rep one other song by a Nebraska artists we should all add to our personal rotations.  

BN: “Sunshine” by Crush the Clown (Nicholas Westra/The Renfields)