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Interview: Musician Brian Karscig of The Nervous Wreckords & Louis XIV

Brian Karscig | Musician | Stated Magazine Interview

Brian Karscig



As fans of the band Louis XIV, we were excited to learn that co-founder Brian Karscig had started a new band in San Diego called The Nervous Wreckords. In their first show as a band, they opened for The Killers on their “Day and Age tour. They recently released their first LP, Valuminium, which includes the track “Doin’ It To Do It,” an anthem for those in it for the love—whatever “it” may be. In our exchanges with Brian, you’ll see that he is doin’ it for the love, and he and his band bring you—the listener—along for the ride.

stated: Can you describe the sound of The Nervous Wreckords?

BRIAN KARSCIG: Our sound is pretty narcotic. It’s painless, you oddly start to crave more of it, but instead of itching, you dance. 

stated: What instruments do you play?

BRIAN KARSCIG: On the recordings, I play guitars, pianos, keyboards, bass, vocals….whatever feels like it should be in the song. Our live shows, I play guitar and sing.

stated: Do you write all the lyrics for The Nervous Wreckords?


stated: You started Louis XIV in 2003. Can you share with me how the band formed and the story behind your ability to sell so many records prior to having a label? What led to the breakup?

BRIAN KARSCIG: Well, three of us in LXIV were and have been best friends since childhood. The band started out of the breakup of another band we were in before that called Convoy. Three of the five members (myself included) moved on after the breakup and started LXIV. It was right at the start of the “internet/download” popularity, so timing was key to selling as many records on our own as we did. We had a website with free streaming and downloads, and a link to purchase the record. “Finding Out True Love is Blind” was downloaded by a local radio station, and almost overnight became a hit locally, then up the west coast, then all over the US UK.

We were selling hundreds of records a day there for a little bit, printing and packaging them ourselves, and shipping them all over the world. It got to be so much work for us to keep up with. Then we signed a deal with Atlantic Records, and they were very supportive of our DIY, self produced model, so it felt like a really good match, and it was.

The breakup: I don’t think anyone ever said, “LXIV is over.” It just got to a point were the atmosphere got a little stuffy for me. There were too many hands in the “business” of LXIV, and I started feeling less and less like an artist creating out of inspiration. Less and less like a voice for the band, and more like a voice/figure in a business. Which, hey, it is the music business, and I understand that, but with managers, business managers, attorneys, record labels, crew members, agents, tour expenses, overhead, etc…..the band started feeling more and more distant from what we once were and what we once set out to do. We just started not feeling like ourselves towards the end, or I wasn’t feeling like myself towards the end. We started creating out of pressure, and certain things were feeling forced.

I remember one time playing some new LXIV songs to someone in our “camp” that we were really excited about, and their response was, “This isn’t Louis XIV enough, keep writing”. That weirded me out, because, we were Louis XIV…shouldn’t we be deciding what is LXIV enough??? It was just time to take a break before there were any regrets or resentments, and I still think it was a good idea for all of us. We’re still friends and support what each other are doing right now.

stated: And you moved forward with some creative collaborations that eventually led to The Nervous Wreckords. How did that come about?

BRIAN KARSCIG: So, after our [Louis XIV] last tour of EU/UK/AUS, I decided to take some songs I had and fly to Cambridge, and meet up with a friend Anthony Saffery (Cornershop), who I met after a show there, to make music, just to make music. No pressure, no expectations, just for fun and the love of it. Kind of a back to “square one” approach to clear my head for a bit, and make music that made me feel good…ME~not anyone else. In fact, I really didn’t care what anyone else thought of the music, because I liked it, and it was a great self empowering feeling. Sure, It was a scary thing to do, I was very nervous.

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I planned on just releasing the record and calling it “The Nervous Record.” During the recording process, some of my friends from The Killers came and played on the record (Mark, Dave, and Ray), so I gave them a finished copy months later. They loved it, and asked me if I had a band b/c they wanted us to open their last leg of their Day and Age“ tour in the US. I did not have a band at the time, but fibbed a little and told them I did. I got on the phone to a couple of friends from other bands asking if they could learn songs and do this tour, and with three weeks notice, our first show was in front of an 11,000 sold-out Red Rocks, Colorado crowd. We called ourselves “The Nervous Wreckords” (spelling is weird because Nervous Records is a dance music record label out of NYC). Lindsay (guitar) and myself are the only two of that first lineup that still exist today. Now with Cindy (bass) and Tony (drums), we have been touring a bit on the West Coast, we self released VALUMINIUM our first full-length LP, in late 2010 and are really beginning to feel like a band, and we’re loving it.

Louis XIV - Finding Out True Love Is Blind

stated: You cite Leon Russell as a big influence / role model? Can you elaborate on that?

BRIAN KARSCIG: I really respect and admire him as an all-around artist. He’s kind of the first DIY artist, producing his own records, playing a lot of the instruments, but having a bunch of musician friends come contribute, and starting his own label to put those records out on (Shelter Records). Plus, I think his songwriting is genius both lyrically and musically. Some of my all-time favorite songs are Leon Russell songs. He’s one of the few artists that I can hear a song and say, “I wish I wrote that!”

stated: You are a musician, singer, and producer. Can you share with me how you split your time between your Nervous Wreckords work and your Nervous Productions work?

BRIAN KARSCIG: My passion and priority is always my/our band’s music and momentum. I love recording, and have a studio that I spend a lot of time in. I love touring, but being a DIY band, there are a lot of expenses, so we have to be a bit strategic on how we spend our money and how long we can stay out on the road. If ever there is time in my schedule, I love working with other bands. I find that no matter how long I’ve been touring, writing, and making music, I always learn something new from working with other artists. If something sounds inspiring, I’ll take it on. In most cases, it’s a super fun experience where we (producer and band) can learn from each other, combine our knowledge and opinions to get really creative and make something magical and timeless. That’s the idea anyway.

stated: Do you have one dominant passion? In other words, is it a general love of music and all things associated with it, or is there something specific like singing, piano, guitar, writing lyrics, or collaborating with other acts? Or perhaps yet another way to express this? What’s the one thing to which you find your mind wandering most each day?

BRIAN KARSCIG: I feel like I’m still striving to write my favorite song. I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied until I’m no longer around. As long as I live and breathe, I will always be pining to write the next greatest song.

Brian Karscig

stated: This is clichéd, I know, because there are so many talented bands out there that have never broken really, really big. I see you in that light, as I do many of stated’s featured artists. Extraordinarily talented and creative. So ultimately what we’re featuring is talent and passion—regardless of the level of past, present, or future commercial success. Those that know they have “it” (talent and passion) and will not stop pursuing what they love—but there is often an undercurrent of frustration. Do you feel any of that frustration?

BRIAN KARSCIG: I feel like I’ve gotten a lot out of this passion of mine. I’ve been around the world several times, got to be on a major record company, play in front of tens of thousands of people, meet lots of people, and although not extremely wealthy, I’m still able to self-sustain my life making music. It’s hard at times, but I get what you’re saying about, “is it frustrating not making it commercially big?” and I’d be a liar if I said no—but it’s a “yes and no” answer. I see some artists/acts that are just thrown together, their music is written for them, and it’s more of a “marketable product” than a voice of inspiration. That frustrates me. Music should stay about music, and I really believe you can feel music that is sincere and feel music that isn’t. I just fear that we’re in a time where watered-down, quick big hit, make the biggest dollar, get rich quick attitudes are what are being encouraged and strived for. Spend the least amount of time, and make the biggest possible hit. I/we make music because we love the way it makes us feel. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning and lets me sleep well at night—knowing I get to wake up and work towards that goal of getting back on the road, up on that stage, and play our music to awaiting ears. If we’re gonna make it “big,” we’re gonna do it our way, with our songs. And if we never do, we’ll go out loving what we’ve done.

stated: Did you grow up in a family that worked in creative fields? Parents, siblings? And have you always been on a path to work in music?

BRIAN KARSCIG: Not so much. But my folks encouraged piano lessons when I was a kid, and my sisters would always turn me on to popular music. When I started getting into guitar and writing songs for the first time, I just loved the way it made me feel. Hours, if not days would go by sometimes where I would be so determined to finish an idea, and it would never feel like work to me. Then I worked at a sandwich shop making subs for people…..four hours felt like a freaking eternity!!! I figured if there was a way to turn what I am passionate about into a job, I will do everything I can to try.


Fellow stated artist Joseph Loughborough asked Brian…

JOSEPH: Hi Brian. I always enjoy hearing humour in music but it’s rare for me to hear it in many bands at the moment. Has humour helped you and do you think that it has a positive or negative on the success of a group?

BRIAN: I think people who know me well know that I have an interesting sense of humor, and I really do enjoy laughing and making people laugh. I would like to think that naturally my music reflects my personality. Of course, we all have dark days, and all can be affected by things around us in the world, so I feel that humor can’t always make its way into song. I think all the lyrics are case sensitive. If I sit down to write something and I’m in a punchy, funny mood…lyrically, it will be reflected. That’s also the case with some of the more serious subjects in our music. I do think, though, that it’s important not to take yourself too seriously; life should be fun, and honestly, most of us have more to be grateful for than to be bummed out about.



Brian asked brand designer and fellow featured stated artist, Debbie Millman

BRIAN: I named [my band] The Nervous Wreckords largely because we dove into the band so aggressively and jumped into some pretty big shows very quickly. We were literally a bit nervous. You do branding work and surely the process is a bit more involved than ours. Or is it?

Debbie: Yes, sometimes it happens that way. And sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it takes a day, sometimes it takes a year. Anything and everything happens when you are trying to name something.

Read Debbie’s answer next…



Check out The Nervous Wreckords at:

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