People got into all kinds of stuff during the COVID-19 lockdown—calligraphy, basket-making, sourdough starter.
“I’ve just been getting Twitter banned,” laughs niiice. vocalist/guitarist Roddie Gadeberg. “I’ve gotten banned twice in quarantine.”
The short version: Last year, when Ben Shapiro was trending for… a reason, Gadeberg tweeted something to the effect of: “I could kill and eat Ben Shapiro and not lose a minute of sleep over it.” (“Which, I think, is pretty tame!”) The cuck pundit’s army found the tweet and started spamming niiice.’s account, and though Gadeberg was having a ball—he spent hours on the couch fighting with middle-aged women tweeting things like “niiice. is a menace to society”—they got banned. Repeatedly. They’ve lost thousands of followers, multiple times.
“I’ve lost a total of like, three niiice. accounts and four personal accounts in the past year,” Gadeberg says, still laughing. Drummer Sage Livergood shakes his head. “We’re trying to make it a bit, but undeniably, it is horrible.”
The thing is, the members of the Minneapolis emo trio are (if you’re not Ben Shapiro) super nice. They laugh a bunch, compliment each other almost as often, and love to talk about how much they love their friends. (“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t hesitant of sitting down with a three piece band comprised of all white dudes, but the more we talk the more they grow on me,” ANCHR Magazine contributor Sage Shemroske wrote last year.) Their second LP, out Friday, is in fact called Internet Friends, and the video for single “Shlonkey Kong” is a Skype singalong with a bunch of their buddies: Mover Shaker, Beach Bunny, Granddad, Stars Hollow, and other Brace Cove and Chatterbot Records labelmates.
With a title that sounds like it was written as we all tried to maintain our relationships over Google Hangouts during quarantine, you’d be forgiven for thinking Internet Friends is a pandemic lockdown record. Plus, there’s a lot of indoor-kid talk on here. “If I ever go outside again I’ll text every one of my friends,” Gadeberg sings on the noodly “Trademarked.” “I’ll never be sober again.”
On “Free Earl”: “Keep your distance, give me some space.”
Or on “Sugar Smacks”: “I’m tired of feeling bored.”
But this standard stuff for the band that turned “I don’t think I want to leave my house again” into one of the most satisfyingly scream-along-able bridges ever on 2019’s Never Better. And though Internet Friends “leaked,” earlier this week (whothefuckleakedtheniiicealbum.com), the songs have been around for a while; niiice. started recording demos last fall and had it ready to go months ago.
Uncertainty, insecurity, anxiety… all the emo-hallmark -tys that have gotten somehow harder to navigate since COVID hit are here on these deeply personal and sneaky-confessional songs—you know, the kind that cover up and compensate for the fact that you’re barely getting by with a noisy brashness that says “No really, I’m fine!!!” There are a lot of lines about staying inside, getting high, and not getting out of bed.
As for what actually inspired the record’s lyrical listlessness and lack of motivation: “A relationship I’d been in for a long time was kind of falling apart or coming to its end, and that was hard,” Gadeberg says. “I tend to, whenever I’m going through stuff, kind of fold in and not talk to anybody about it, just internalize everything.”
The five songs on Never Better were recorded over two midnight-to-six-a.m. sessions, which helped fuel its chaotic caffeine-and-adderall feeling. Internet Friends still sounds like a garage-rock record, which it literally is—bassist Abe Anderson recorded it in his parents’ garage. But given months to record, Internet Friends elongates its anxiety, feeling somehow as bleak, but less panicked, more polished.
There are synths. There are harmonies. Tons of guitar. (“‘Lockjaw’ had like 70 tracks on it when we finished it,” Anderson says. “There’s like, six or seven guitar parts going on at the same time.”) And his parents’ garage sounds pretty good. (Hey Minneapolis bands, record in Abe’s parents’ garage!)
If anything, Internet Friends sounds too right—too painfully immediate and energized, too much like you’re in that garage with them. The feedback spilling from the instrumental intro track into in-earnest opener “Trademarked” builds that set-starting anticipation. It feels like you’re about to get your eardrums blown out as you sweat on and sing along with your friends.
Of course, you’re not. For a band that’s used to playing, like, ten shows a month, that’s what sucks the most. So much of the fun they have is in playing these songs for everyone, in some steamy basement, while everyone jumps around and chugs Hamm’s.
niiice. had planned three weeks on the West Coast with Michigan’s Charmer (“12 days in legal weed country…” Gadeberg sighs) and were supposed to play Fest next month. (“Oh fuck, don’t remind me,” Livergood groans.) Instead, they’re here in Minneapolis, and we’re talking about shows (remember shows?) over Zoom.
“I miss shows a lot,” Gadeberg says. Livestreams might be fine for their friends, but personally? “I fucking hate that shit—playing, solo, to a camera when you know people are watching but you have no way to gague their interest in what’s going on.”
“The songs sound live, that’s kind of the point,” Livergood adds. It feels nice to finally have the record out—after postponing its release once, they didn’t want to kick the can any further. “What I’m actually more scared about than releasing this album is that I’m not going to have anything to look forward to. That’s kind of been the only thing keeping me going.”
Well, that and their friends, many of whom make appearances here. Colleen Dow from Chicago’s Thank You I’m Sorry (where Livergood also drums) plays cello, and the horns on the end of “Lockjaw” come courtesy of Skatune Network checker-genius Jeremy Hunter.
“That’s why it’s Internet Friends—it was made by our internet friends,” Livergood says.
“Doing it ourselves and having our friends do the stuff that we couldn’t kind of matched the vibe of the whole record,” adds Gadeberg. “So much of the stuff we’ve accomplished has been because of the internet and the friends we’ve made through fucking Twitter.”
Someday (maybe) there will be shows again, and when there (maybe) are, you can hear these songs the way they were really meant to be heard.
Until then, you can find them on the internet, where you can also find niiice. at @n666cebanned. Until the next ban.