Artist Spotlight: N*E*R*D, “Lemon” and Their 2008 Interview with JMG
In 2008, there was nothing more that I enjoyed than a beat that would make me want to dance. It didn’t matter if I was in my car, on my college campus or at a nightclub, I lived for good music and The Neptunes never disappointed. Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo were the musicians that made up the group, and I first noticed them in the early 2000s when they were making hits for everyone including Clipse, Jay Z, Britney Spears, and of course, Justin Timberlake.
But little did I know that while Pharrell and Chad were establishing themselves as one of the best production duos in the music industry, they were also part of a three-member band called N*E*R*D (No-one Ever Really Dies). Shay Haley was the third member and the band was known for their hip-hop, funk and alternative rock sound.
In the summer of 2008, N*E*R*D released their third studio album, Seeing Sounds. The album debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 chart and the guys were also on the road touring in support of their music. In September of the same year, the group was booked to perform in Houston at the Verizon Wireless Center, which is now known as the Revention Music Center. As soon as I heard about the show, I knew I had to speak with the group for an interview for the newly formed JMG, which was an online magazine at the time.
Live Nation, who promoted the tour, was able to setup a phone interview between Pharrell, Shay and myself. This was my very first interview with a music artist of any kind, so I was excited and dove in like a champ.
Here’s an excerpt from their 2008 interview with Pharrell and Shay where we discussed the 2008 presidential election, Seeing Sounds and being on tour with Common:
JMG: How do you guys feel about touring, and how has life been on the road?
Shay: Touring is fun. We’ve been on the road since March 1 with the “Glow in the Dark” promo tour, and it’s been great. We took three years off and it felt good to be back and connect with our fans.
JMG: How did you guys hook up with Common for this tour?
Pharrell: Me and Common were in the studio and we talked about it. We’ve always liked each other’s work and we’ve been wanting to do something together for a while. So, now it just seemed like the right time.
JMG: How do you like performing in Houston?
Shay: We love it, there’s so much energy.
JMG: What was the inspiration behind your latest album, Seeing Sounds?
Pharrell: We took time off from recording for a while. So we took all of the emotions that we felt from our break and poured it into the record.
Now fast forward nearly 10 years later, and N*E*R*D is back with their fifth album, No One Ever Really Dies. The album has a few guest appearances from some of today’s top artists including: Kendrick Lamar, Wale, Ed Sheeran and Rihanna. The first single from No One Ever Really Dies was “Lemon” featuring the Barbadian singer, which has made history for the band. After its November 2017 release, “Lemon” become N*E*R*D’s first song to debut on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at No. 65.
The 11-track disc marks a great return for a band so musically diverse as N*E*R*D. Now let’s hope they go on tour again, and if so, I think I need to sit down with the guys again.