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Listen up: Restaurnaut
Aside from being almost unpronounceable (I have yet to get it right in one try), Restaurnaut is like the best band name ever. It’s obvious — in the way that all great things are obvious — and has a cold-war connotation I can’t resist.
Not that Nick Dolezal gave it that much thought. He just needed a name for his musician’s page on Facebook and started combining words.
“The two words that came to mind were restaurant and astronaut,” says Dolezal, who plays the electric ukulele and desribes his music as folka-dot or lo-fi country.
“I looked it up in the dictionary and it turns out it’s a real word, although most spell checks don’t recognized it.” So: A restaurnaut is one who commonly eats out, so much so that they are recognized easily by waitstaff. “Which is now something that I very much aspire to,” Dolezal says.
For those who follow local music, Restaurnaut has been on a lot of fliers lately. Like, a lot. We caught Dolezal via email to answer some quick questions.
A.) Who’s your booking agent? And B.) Do you ever say no to a gig?
Haha! A.) I am my own booking agent. And B.) I never say no to anything.
How long have you been playing and how did you get started in music?
I’ve really only been playing uke specifically for about two-and-a-half years. I got my start in music trying to make punk/metal bands with middle school friends and eventually worked my way up to being a vocalist for a plethora of experimental metal bands back in Arkansas, where I’m from. It wasn’t long before I got tired of the thrash and bash and decided to indulge in the folkier side of things. I’ve been singing my own made up diddys from the time I could talk, though.
You play a lot of DIY and punkish-type shows. It seems like there’s a group of musicians that are into the punk ethos, but aren’t worried about playing ‘punk' music. Would you throw yourself in this category?
Well ever since I started playing shows, it was usually in a DIY punkish or metalish venue that was decorated from head to toe with graffiti or stickers and about to collapse in on itself ... So, yeah I would consider myself part of that band of troubadours. Like I said, I started out in music dabbling in punk and it’s sub-genres, so even though that’s not what I’m playing, I feel like I can fit the bill if I have to. I’m not a big advocate of any stereotypes or groupings. I prefer getting to know people for who they are. But the ‘punk scene’ here in Fresno is full of great people that I feel privileged to have met. DIY ‘til I die, man.
So, who are your influences? Who are you listening to?
God I hate this question! It’s a great question, but there’s so damn much stuff. Typically, I listen to anything and everything put in front of me. I’m always trying to find new meals to eat. At the moment I’m really big on some of the bands I’ve played with from the up north, like Whitman and Jon Barba, aka Nicole Kidman. But I’m really digging the stuff we’ve got going on locally. Niilo Smeds and Fatty Cakes have made a big impact on my music. Amber’s \[of Fatty Cake’s] new band Strawberry Jam is really moving up on my list. As far as my old stand bys go, I’m a big Neil Young/Bob Dylan kind of guy. Zappa, Grateful Dead, The Talking Heads, Cat Stevens and Donovan can all be found in my bedroom. More current stuff consists of Conor Oberst, Beck, Modest Mouse, Animal Collective, stuff everyone loves.
You have a split-release coming out soon-ish. Tell us about that?
I actually have several split-releases in the works, but the one coming out soonest should be my split with my old bestie Native Son, from Arkansas. I have my batch of songs done for the most part, depending on whether or not I decide to add keys or anything. I’m really just waiting on Native Son to square away his tracks so we can get this going. The split will be released on cassettes, which I am dubbing myself, and consist of a series of songs that exemplify my folkier roots in music, as well as a jazzier instrumental track I’m very proud of. You’ll be able to order such cassette on my bandcamp (www.restaurnaut.bandcamp.com), where you can find an entire catalog of my past endeavors too.
Is there anything I am missing?
I am Restaurnaut and I make horse music.