“Everyone thinks we’re a food truck. We’re driving through all these beach communities playing shows and people are like, what kind of food do you sell?” laughed Caton Smith, bassist of Boulder’s Na’an Stop, as he playfully acknowledged that their name does in fact have the name of the Indian bread we all love served as a side to our Chicken Masala. It sums them up in a way though- the Na’an Stop fellas are a bunch of goofy, fun-loving musicians out to have a good time as they make their dreams come true.
Na’an Stop stands for “never stopping the pursuit of your dreams.” This becomes obvious once you start to know their music. It’s the van that confuses people. Colorful and painted in graffiti, it’s easy to see how passersby would mistake it for a food truck. But Na’an stop will not sell you food from the vehicle they’ve dubbed “Gnar’V.” They may, however, sell you a lifestyle. If, that is, they’re selling anything other than tickets to their shows, which are always a riot of good, positive vibes as reggae and ska music should be.
The first thing you’ll learn about Na’an Stop is about their aforementioned lifestyle. Personally, I was intrigued and had to dig deeper into what that meant. Lucky for me I got to go to the Na’an Stop lair for aninterview and see NS in their true habitat to talk about their upcoming CD Release Show at The Fox Theater this Wednesday, April 26th.
Na’an Stop started six years ago as five college friends playing at The Lazy Dog and (now defunct) The Goose. One of the first times they played an impactful gig was opening up for Boulder’s West Water Outlaws, a beloved rock outfit from Boulder that fell apart some years back. That show took place at The Fox, and ever since then, the venue on The Hill has been their home. Naturally, it’s the perfect spot for Na’an Stop to make their next moves known.
Released in 2015, their album From the Deep won accolades, climbing to #2 on iTunes Reggae Charts and #5 on the Billboard Reggae Charts. Following that, the weight was on their shoulders to make something cohesive and whole.
“For our From the Deep album, we had a great sound engineer, but no producer. Nonetheless, I think we did a great job on that one,” said Caton.
It’s the album that opened doors and platforms in the reggae music scene for the group, and though From the Deep is an impressive body of work coming from very young musicians, they knew that they needed to get a bit more professional after the record’s success. So the five-piece put together a Kickstarter Campaign for a new album. They met their goal and went to Virginia to record the self-titled record with producer Danny Kalb at White Star Sound Studios. Kalb has worked with other established reggae bands like The Green, The Movement, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, and Hirie who put out one of the best reggae albums of 2016. He’s also worked with artists like Beck and Ben Harper.
But don’t fret- the Na’an Stop guys are still keeping true to their fun roots, even as they grow their sound. When I walked into the NS crib, the boys were setting up to record a short dance video as a token of appreciation for their fans. That’s when Caton revealed what the Na’an Stop lifestyle means, “Time, practice, and dedication and having fun while doing it. The thing is, we’re all in this world trying to find our way and make a life for ourselves. Each of the members of Na’an Stop are giving their all, putting 100% of ourselves in everything we do, but also not succumbing to the pressures of American society to follow a cookie cutter career and climb ladders. It’s important for people to realize that you can do what you want to do if you actually take yourself seriously, but not too seriously, and have commitment. And we’re committed. We’ve made sacrifices in our lives to make Na’an Stop a priority, and that’s really what it takes to succeed in any career path you take.”
The “having fun while doing it” part is certainly true for these guys. Their video release for the single “Lazy Susan,” off the upcoming self-titled album, clearly shows the boys having fun. So does the video previously featured by BolderBeat for “Win a Bagel,” the single from From the Deep.
Watch Na’an Stop’s video for “Lazy Susan”:
I asked Caton what else people can infer from their videos, because they’re pretty silly and have little to nothing to do with the actual song. His response was, “That we like to party. That we’re all friends. That it’s not a hard process for us to have fun on or off camera; on or off stage. We don’t want to follow any trend. We want to show our creativity and put out funny videos that haven’t been seen since The Foo Fighters crushed it.”
Browsing around, I also noticed Na’an Stop’s upcoming self-titled album features a new logo for the group.
Said Caton, “We want to keep it fresh and show that we’re growing as musicians and artists. Each song that you record, looking back, shows you where you were and where you are now as a musician and as a group. ‘Win a Bagel,’ lacks harmonies in the recordings. It’s something we missed for being so green. But we definitely add them in our live sets now. Our new self-titled album shows how far we’ve come.”
You’ll definitely be able to notice the more refined, matured, and sophisticated rendition of the band with their new record available on all music platforms Wednesday, May 3rd. Hear them for yourself before the record drops as they kick off their spring tour at The Fox this Wednesday before heading west, where the people have “been really good to the band with legitimate fans and venues,” said Caton, “It’s a beautiful thing to watch the rise in our following and dedicated fans as they come out and support us. We’re really looking forward to it.”
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.