Twenty Years of The Nadas

In 2001, Playboy Magazine named The Nadas “the best band you've never heard of.” Now, in 2014, The Nadas are officially “the best 20-year-old band you've never heard of.”

20 years. That's a lot of time logged on the road, a lot of opening gigs for national touring acts, and a LOT of time at the Iowa State Fair. And The Nadas have done it all as a completely independent band. Sure, they might not have the importance or gravitas of, say, Pavement. But to do what the band has done, as well as it's done it, for as long as it's been happening is an impressive feat that combines talent, perseverance, and old fashioned hard work.

And though the cast of characters performing under The Nadas banner has changed from time to time, the unifying factor has always been talent. The Nadas have consistently housed some of the best names in central Iowa music, from Tony Bohnenkamp to Jon Locker to Becca Smith, all of whom have left their specific imprint on the band's sound.

“We asked Becca to be in the band to bring that specific element to it,” said guitarist Jason Walsmith. “We invited Tony to join the band to kind of bring in that rock sound. So we invite people in and allow their talent to dictate the direction (of the band).”

That's helped create a sound that's remained distinctly theirs over the past two decades, but that has evolved enough that each album is a singular experience.

“We always tell (new fans) to listen to the new stuff,” said vocalist Mike Butterworth. “Because we've done it so long, we've always tried to change it up. And so we always go with the new album because we want people to go along with us for that ride.”

Now, to help mark the 20 year anniversary, The Nadas are releasing a 20 song compilation album, featuring songs selected by the band's fans.

“It's our quote-unquote “greatest hits” album,” Butterworth said. “It's got some stuff that we haven't played in 15 years. Some of the more fun-loving, nonsense songs of our youth. It's actually pretty fun. I just had to remind myself not to take myself too seriously and have fun with those tunes.”

But don't mistake this for a farewell party. The Nadas aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

“We're lifers,” Wallsmith said.

See you at the Fair.

Originally appeared in Cityview February 5, 2014