Na'an Stop And Their Gnar'V Are Headed To A City Near You On Upcoming Record Release Tour

By: Mirna Tufekcic

“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. 

Na'an Stop. 

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 legend that is Gnar'V. 

The legend that is Gnar'V. 

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.

NS at The Fox.

NS at The Fox.

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.”

Life on the road. 

Life on the road. 

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.”  

The album art for the self-titled record.

The album art for the self-titled record.

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.”

Keep up with Na'an Stop here and make sure to wave hello if you see their Gnar'V in a city near you

-Mirna

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Cosmic Collective: A Space For All The Things You Love About Live Music

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Amoramora, Cameron Bailey, Cycles, Euforquestra, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, Na’an Stop, The Runnikine, and The Beeves. What do all these awesome artists have in common? They’ve worked with Cosmic Collective. The studio and performance space, which is located near 55th and Arapahoe in Boulder, came together back in 2015 with creative mastermind Eric Plein at the helm. The space, which has hosted live shows, rehearsals, performances, a podcast, and doubles as a recording studio “seeks to harbor community and creativity for conscious audio and visual artists by giving their work a place to manifest its full potential.” The DIY vibes draw you in; the professionalism of Plein and his crew keep you invested. Needless to say, we were stoked to have the chance to chat with Eric about all things Cosmic Collective. Read on:

Cosmic Collective is a part of so many musical happenings. What inspired you to start this?

After years of playing music with my brother and friends I had accumulated a fair amount of gear. When I was living up on 10th and College [in Boulder], I had all of that gear from my basement in Virginia shipped out here, and we set it up in the garage behind our house for jam sessions. In some respects it was a grungy precursor to what Cosmic is now. Between that and and learning from my experiences with Z2 Entertainment and Madison House, I took a leap and put together Cosmic Collective.

Eric Plein.

Eric Plein.

What all goes down at the CC?

Most of the time, Cosmic is rented out by artists and bands to rehearse for shows and write music. We provide everything you need including instruments, amps, drums, microphones and a PA system, although a lot of people like to bring some of their own gear.

Recently we’ve been doing more and more recording, ranging from live, in-studio performances to working on more polished material for some upcoming projects. I’ve always loved watching music documentaries and reading biographies so when Tyler Gwynn (drummer of Tenth Mountain Division) approached me about starting a podcast, I was all about it. We have local, regional, and nationally touring acts come in for an interview, and then have them play a couple songs live in the studio.

Boulder has an amazing music scene, but it’s not the most diverse. I started to miss going to folk, indie, punk, hardcore, and metal shows, but had a hard time finding venues to go and get my fix for smaller-scale artists. That’s when I started to put together events to help foster those musical communities and provide a space for them.

We hear that. Who all is on the Cosmic team and what are their roles?

On paper, it’s just me running the show, but in reality I’ve had a ton of help from friends, musicians, and mentors in the Colorado music community. There is no way I could do all of this on my own. I am constantly humbled by the desire and willingness of all those who help Cosmic.

Danny Evans of Amoramora (left) & Plein mix before a podcast. 

Danny Evans of Amoramora (left) & Plein mix before a podcast. 

How long ago did you guys start the podcast?

Tyler Gwynn and I started the "At Cosmic Collective Podcast" back in September of 2016. We didn’t really know what we were doing when we started- we just did it... Still not sure we do either. Pretty much all of our guests are touring acts passing through Boulder, or artists we’ve met or know that live in Colorado.

Anyone you can talk to us about that you’ve been stoked to record with recently?

I just finished recording an album for the project Mr. Smiley, which consists of two members from Shantyman (R.I.P.). They’re going to see if they can beat Anton Newcombe’s (Brian Jonestown Massacre) accomplishment of six albums in one year. We just started recording the second one and they’re already done writing the third.

Some of CC's pedal collection.

Some of CC's pedal collection.

Tell us something you have at CC that a true music gearhead would drool over.

Definitely the 1975 Fender Rhodes 88 keyboard. At one point in its not too distant past, it was bought to go on tour with Hieroglyphics, but the thing is a beast to lug around, so it wound up in an office until I picked it up.

The setup.

The setup.

What has been one of your favorite events put on in the Cosmic Collective space so far?

That’s a tough one, but I think I’d have to go with the first one we ever did with Jeffrey Martin & Anna Tivel. Maybe 25 people showed up, but we all sat in the stillest silence listening, half of us almost brought to tears. It was really intimate.

Do you sponsor events outside of the Cosmic studio?

Cosmic just started teaming up with one of my favorite non-profits, Bus To Show, to put on a series that takes place on the first Thursday of every month at Bohemian Biergarten. There is more in the works too, so stay tuned!

Life behind the board. 

Life behind the board. 

In these very politically charged times, do you have any comment on how the conscious community at CC creates change through art?

When people talk about change they are inclined to jump to something lofty and sweeping; end world hunger, find the cure to cancer. That’s not really my style- I see meaningful change in smaller day to day things. With all this divisive rhetoric bombarding us all the time, people have an intrinsic need to be part of communities that value them. When you meet someone new, find something you have in common before you define what makes that person different from you. At Cosmic, music is the built-in commonality that we all share. That’s the launching point for getting to know each other; getting to know ourselves. I think there is immense value in appreciating all the different perspectives and realities that define how one sees the world we live in.

Beautifully said Eric. We can’t wait to see who stops by Cosmic next.

Keep up with all things Cosmic Collective here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.