They’re Young, They’re Hot, And They’re Best Friends: A Q&A With WNHL


Photo courtesy of WNHL

(Back left to front right) Liam Nee, James Russin, Julie Larsen, and Kristen Nodell, the members of The Women’s National Hockey League, pose for a photo.

Adrita Talukder, Newspaper Editor in Chief

What do you get when three theater kids and a band kid walk into Penn State? The answer is The Women’s National Hockey League, a four-piece band that has been together since 2019. Combining their free-spiritedness with their love for music, this is WNHL. 


To get started, could you all introduce yourselves?
Kristen Nodell (KN): I’m Kristen, I am the singer and rhythm guitar in the band. 

James Russin (JR): I’m James, I play guitar.

Julie Larsen (JL): I’m Julie, I play bass.

Liam Nee (LN): And I’m Liam, and I am the drummer.

Could you tell me how all of you guys met? Did you all grow up here in State College, or did you meet at Penn State? 

KN: Yeah, I grew up in State College, I went to State High, in 2017 I graduated. And then, we all met each other in college. A lot of us—Liam and James and I studied film, and Julie and I did comedy together. Comedy club. 


Kristen—I heard from my friends and Mr. Merritt, who actually played WNHL’s music in class once, that you went to State High. Could you tell me about your time there? Were you involved in music at State High?

KN: My time at State High. Ooh. Yes, I was involved in music, I did Jazz Band, and one of my favorite things was Rock Ensemble, which was a class where […]  you and everyone in the class would learn some rock-n’-roll songs and put on a show at the end. So that, I really loved to do. 


In Jazz Band, what instrument did you play?

KN: I played the tenor saxophone. 

JL: Okay, we have to bring that into the band at some point. The tenor sax.


Are you guys still attending Penn State, or did you graduate already?

KN: We all graduated except for James—[he] did graduate and now he is back for another degree. 


What are your day-to-day lives like? What do you guys get up to outside of the band? 

JL: On this d*mn day, I went on a little run. You know, love to keep active in a fun, casual way. Love to giggle with the girl-inas, love to giggle with my friends. And I do love to play music and you know, [get] up to that with the girl-inas and the band. Day to day life is like work[ing] a 9-5 just so I can fund all my silly activities so I can do serotonin vibes. 

JR: Julie’s famously the most employed member of the band. 

JL: Yeah, but it’s also big because I also feel like I’m always running around all the time, so it’s like, the least I can do is fund something.

KN: The least. In my day to day, Liam and I—I’ll let Liam say his day—but we’re both in freelance filmmaking, so my day-to-day is looking for jobs and I am starting a position on a stage crew for a dance company in January, so I will be working a little more. And also giggling and laughing and having fun. 


Is it a dance company in State College?

KN: Oh no, I live in New York now. Liam, Julie, and I live in New York. 

JL: And James used to live in New York, before going back to get his second degree. So we’ve all touched base in this city at one point or another. 

JR: I stepped one toenail into New York and then left. 

JL: Everyone’s dipped a little extra—what are these called? Extremity. Everyone’s dipped an extremity in New York.

JR: My day-to-day, when I’m not studying math or physics, [I’m] practicing guitar and hanging out with all of Kristen’s friends, ‘cause I don’t have any friends that live here anymore.

KN: Put that in the article. Print it. 

JR: ‘James has no friends.’

JL: James, I feel like it’s important to say that—what’s that new sport that you picked up?

JR: Oh, uh. I play curling now. I’m on a curling team.

*Julie laughs*

JL: So yeah, we’re pretty well-rounded. 


Liam, could you tell me a bit about what your life is like outside of the band?

LN: You know, it’s the typical 9-5 job, similar to Julie, to afford my wacky day-to-day shenanigans. But you know, I—when I have time, I like to make a music video, make beats, the occasional, once a month Twitch stream. 


Since you’re all a bit separated now, when’s the last time you guys kind of got together and played music?

LN: It was supposed to be two weeks ago.

KN: It was supposed to be a couple weeks ago. Most of us got together. But we—it is hard for us to get together, but we try to, every couple of months, or if we have a show coming up, we’ll schedule practice and we’ll all meet, usually in New York. So, yeah. Every couple of months we’ll reconvene, we’ve played shows in State College, and we’ve played shows—nope, just State College. I played a show in New York. 

JL: It’s very much like, independent learning vibes and then we come together and hash it out. 

JR: We communicate pretty regularly. 

KN: We’re like a long-distance band. 

JL: Yeah, we’re all in a long-distance relationship with each other. And I’m not gonna take that back. 


You mentioned that you guys have only played in State College, do you hope to perform in other places like New York in the future?

KN: Yeah, we’re definitely in the midst of booking things here, in the city, which is very fun. 

JL: Yeah, I think the fact that we’re a long-distance band definitely makes it trickier, and State College is a place where it’s easier for us to gather. […] But the hope is definitely to play more regularly in the future, and it’ll be easier once we’re all in the same place, whenever that may be.

KN: Yeah, we’re in our writing years. 


Could you tell me about how long has the band been together, and how it all started? 

KN: Yeah, we have been together since 2020, or winter of—December 2019, so beginning of 2020.

LN: Take it back a year.

KN: 2019? Okay. 2019, and we got together because I was playing some solo stuff, and one of the Penn State Magazines wrote an article about me. And in the article, I said I wanted to start a band, and I knew James, James reached out and was like, ‘I can play,’ and then I knew Julie played the bass.

JL: Kristen and I were playing a song about going through a breakup and you get bangs, and we were playing this in one of our comedy shows, and I was playing bass on it, and Kristen was singing on it, and after that shows was when—that was the first time I met James, after that show. And he was like, ‘would you want to play in a band?’ And I was like, ‘yeah.’ 

KN: Yeah, Julie and I were writing comedy songs together.

LN: Technically, me and James were in a duet together. In a small little arrangement. 

JL: A jazz arrangement. 

JR: Yeah, Liam and I have jammed prior. 

LN: I don’t think we can say the name.


Did you guys play the same instruments in that duo together, or did you play other ones?

LN: Well, it’s funny because we both played the drums, but I think for that, it was mostly [James] on guitar and I was on drums.

JR: Yeah, I’m a drummer as well. I have a kit at my house, and I said, ‘Come over. Play these.’ And he did it. 


Can I ask about the origin story of your band’s name? What’s the significance of The Women’s National Hockey League?

KN: Yes. What is the significance? James?

JR: So, well, in the article, that was written about Kristen, she specifically stated that she wanted to start a girl band. And I said, if you have trouble finding girl musicians, I’ll play with you. So, the band’s foundation was it being a girl band.

KN: Intent, yeah.

JR: Yeah. That was the original concept, so that’s where the name came from. And I’m Canadian. I thought it would be a funny name. 

JL: And to be fair, I call everyone a ‘girl-ina’ anyways, so in some ways, it’s still true. 

KN: And the real Women’s National Hockey League—this is important—they just changed their name a couple of months ago. 

JR: Yeah, there’s no—there’s still a women’s national hockey league, that plays the sport hockey, ut that’s not what they’re called anymore.

KN: No, they changed their name, so it’s all—so everything’s fine.

JR: That cease and desist might not be fine. We’ll see.

KN: Yeah, but if any—if there’s any lawyers out there that can help us solidify that for free.

JL: My uncle has definitely said that he would help us. If it came down to it. Put that in the article. We have the law on our side. 

How long have you each been involved in music? Did you grow up in musical families, or was music something you discovered on your own? 

JL: Wait, Kris, do you want to tell [them] what we just discovered on Thursday?

KN: What did we discover?

JL: That everybody but you was a theater geek. 

KN: Well everyone in the band except for me was in theater. I was more theater-adjacent. But yeah, my family was pretty music, musical. My oldest brother was very musical and I wanted to be just like him. There’s my sweet story. 

LN: My mom doesn’t play much, but my brother started playing guitar around the same time I started playing drums, which was probably 2006. And then I learned drums because my dad, back in the 80s, was in a heavy-metal band called Heavy Sedation. 

JR: Hard-rock Joe!

JL: Wait, that’s awesome.

LN: And then he gave me—he found a bunch of his old t-shirts in his attic, and now we just have a stockpile of them.

JR: I gotta get one of those. 

KN: That could be our new band uniform. We don’t have one. 

JL: That’d be sick, actually. 

JR: I didn’t grow up in an extremely musical household. My parents were lovers of music, but weren’t avid musicians themselves. But they’re very encouraging. 

JL: Yeah, I grew up—like my dad is in a band, he’s in a dad-rock band, so there was always music around. I was in band and stuff, but definitely didn’t like truly start enjoying playing music until this band was started, for myself. Because I want more fun.


You mentioned that all of you were in theater, I was just wondering, were you in cast or crew, and did that kind of form some of your interests in film?

LN: I did both, and I recommend that anyone who is interested in theater, regardless of what you do, you should try to do stage and acting on stage. I think it’s important to get that balance. ‘Cause like, if you just do acting—most people obviously, when they get into it, they just wanna act, but it’s important to remember how much behind the scenes work goes into putting these productions on.

JL: And I hear that, and I recognize that, and I was only in the cast. 

JR: I always went cast, and then if I didn’t like the show, I would just join [the pit band]. 

KN: And I was not in theater. 

JR: Where would you sit in the audience?

KN: In the audience, I would probably sit—I’d probably ask my friends, ‘okay, where do you project to the best?’


Your first EP is titled “We’re Young, We’re Hot, We’re Best Friends.” How do your close friendships shape the dynamic of the band?

KN: How does our friendship shape our dynamic?

JL: I would say it just makes us way more comfortable with each other and honest and we play a lot better when we can have a laugh every once in a while. ‘Cause it’s hard when things get too serious or too businessy, but if we’re able to have a friendship, it means that we have a level of respect for each other already and that makes us bond and play better.

KN: That’s a good answer.

JL: Thank you, I just came up with that on the spot, but I think it’s true. 


To go off that, how does your closeness impact the creative process and your performances?

KN: Yeah, our process often involves—I do the lyrics, I’m into that. I often will do the lyrics and like a melody, kind of on my own, and James will also write musical demos on his own, and then we will kind of combine those and see where we can go from that. Or I’ll bring a simple melody and a phrase or something to James, and then he’ll build off that. And what’s really nice about that process is that then we can bring it to our talented musicians, Julie and Liam, right after. Like we kind of have that base, and then they add their own thing to that. And then on stage, because we’re friends, it’s just so fun and silly, which I really value, just having a good time. 

JR: Kind of like Tetris, all the pieces fall into place. 

JL: I call the Tetris piece that’s like six down, like it’s that one. I wanna be that one. 

KN: Ooh, that’s cool. I’d probably be the all four in a line. 

JL: Should our next album have something to do with Tetris? I’m just thinking out loud here. 

JR: If it’s not gonna be baseball city, it could be Tetris related.

What are some of your favorite verses or lines off “We’re Young, We’re Hot, We’re Best Friends”? Could you tell me what makes them your favorite? 

KN: Let me think for one second. I really like the first song of Beth, it’s ‘Beth knows all, but it’s all in her head.’


Could I ask why it’s your favorite?

KN: Yeah, that song I wrote, I was taking a class at Penn State, it was actually a songwriting class, and it was really good, and one of the exercises was going to a public place and just eavesdropping and listening. I was sitting in Webster’s and listening to these people that were talking. I don’t know, I was coming in and out, but they were—essentially, I took a couple literal sentences from them. She was talking about a petri dish […] essentially I was just listening to what they were saying, kind of taking their—obviously I had no idea who they were, so I was imposing a character upon them, with things they said. Like she was like, she did say something about—the website said there’d be a pool at this hotel, and there wasn’t, and that was just a ‘Done! Take! Mine!’ [moment]. And that’s kind of where that came from. 

JL: It’s so funny like, not the same question but like, playing bass where I will not know the lyrics until at least [after] ten times playing, I’m like ‘oh my god, Kris these lyrics are incredible.’ *screeching bagpipe(?) music plays in the background of Julie’s audio*

JR: Julie, what is going on where you are?

LN: There’s a parade.

JL: I don’t know. I’m gonna flip my camera. *Camera shows that Julie is sitting across from a street musician*

JR: Why’d you choose to sit right there?

JL: Listen, it just started—

LN: It sounds so…

JL: I’ll stay muted, I’ll stay muted. I’m so sorry. 

JR: I like in ‘Zoo Miami Kangaroo,’ [where] Kristen’s saving the kangaroo from the zoo, and it used to be ‘let’s get you someplace cool like California,’ because that rhymed, but we had to stay true to our roots, and so it’s ‘let’s get you someplace cool like Pennsylvania.’

KN: But it was originally California.

JR: California’s not that cool.


Liam, I was wondering if you had any favorite verses or lines off the first EP?

LN: Off the first EP, I mean I just love the whole, the rhyme scheme of ‘Zoo Miami,’ I just love the way it kind of rolls off the tongue. I remember the first time I heard that we were calling it ‘Zoo Miami Kangaroo,’ like anytime I think of that, I just have a little—you know how the Pillsbury Dough Boy has that little giggle he does? Anytime I hear it in the back of my head, I just do a little giggle.

KN: And writing that one was truly like ‘what rhymes with this?’ And then I would just pick the craziest two words and be like, I’m just gonna put those together. But a lot of that writing credit goes to 


Which song of yours means the most to you, or is the most personal to you? 

KN: I think the most personal out of those songs—our new set of songs, I think are much more personal to me, and I’m really excited to share them—but out of the first EP, is the first song we wrote, ‘Give up the Ship.’ That one, I’m just trying to think of why. […] Yeah, I feel like when I write songs, they’re very loosely inspired by people, maybe like a sentence is [inspired by someone]. For ‘Give up the Ship,’ I thought about my cousin who’s in the Navy, and it’s not about him, really, I was taking his image in my head and giving him a different character, just as a starting point. So it’s loosely based off of him in the way that it like ‘oh, it’s about someone who’s in the Navy, but then I kind of was thinking about I guess the structures and nothing too serious. So like ‘oh, what if you just quit this real-life and very serious thing,’ and you’re like ‘actually, I don’t want to do it, I’d rather live in the sea with all the fishes instead.’ So, that’s kind of where that came from, and that’s maybe more personal to me because I like that idea of imagination and not taking anything too seriously. 

JL: I would say for me, like ‘Give up the Ship’ is gonna be one of the more personal songs, because it’s the first time we played together, and it’s one of the first songs that I learned and felt comfortable playing in front of you guys and in front of people and […] to talk about how there’s a lot of building blocks, when you guys make a song and you’re like ‘hey, can you guys add on to it,’ I feel like ‘Give up the Ship’ was like the first one where we really worked on something together and really made something happen. And it’s a really good basis [to show] how much we’ve grown as a band. So I would say there’s more songs in the new EP that I feel more personally connected to, but ‘Give up the Ship’ is one of the ones where it’s like, that was like a really quintessential starting point for us as a band, in my mind. 


James and Liam, do you guys maybe have a song you like to perform a lot?

LN: I love doing ‘Angie.’ And I know it’s like our most recent song, but just the way that that song flows, it just, it pumps me up. And I don’t know, it’s hard to explain the certain emotion that that song gives me, but anytime we start with that, it just invokes this certain feeling that makes me, it like motivates me, I guess.

JR: Zoo Miami Kangaroo gets me [amped]. 

KN: That’s a fun one for the crowd, to get rowdy.

In “Give Up The Ship” you sing ‘And just like a movie you jumped overboard/You said ‘this shall be my new home.’’ In the song there’s this idea of finding your own place in the world and coming to love yourself, leaving behind what was familiar to you, If any of that was not what you intended, please correct me, but what inspired this song? What are all of your personal experiences with/connections to the ideas in this song?

KN: …Yeah, I’d say in that yeah, like I recently moved to New York, and finding my place. I grew up in State College, went to school in State College, this was my first big jump into totally unfamiliar territory, and just, discovering how I fit or how I wanna fit in my own world. 

JL: And like for me, bringing it back to the band, it’s like, I feel like that can be really applicable to playing in a band, where it’s like ‘where are we gonna fit in with each other,’ and saying ‘yes’ to a band is one thing, and then once you actually start playing together, like what is that mean and what does it end up looking like, and how has it shaped itself. So it’s like, in our lives, it’s relatable, and within our band, I think it’s also relatable. Boys, any add-ons?

LN: Me personally, it kind of—that whole idea of jumping into the unknown, I think is a part that a lot of people can speak to. Because I mean, I’m from a semi-small town I guess, and every step I took in the past four, five years, has been this I’ve never, have no realm of experience for this or whatever, so I think it is a good song especially what we talked about with sort of young adulthood.

JR: I recently made the big decision to finish my physics degree, and leaving the film world, I don’t know where it’s gonna take me, but I’m excited about it. 


And on Spotify, the image for “Give Up the Ship” is this cat in front of a dishwasher, with the caption ‘wants to help.’ Can I ask about the story behind that photo?

KN: That’s my mom’s cat, Marli Finn Nodell. And I thought it was just a funny picture. James did it.

The image for “Give Up the Ship” on Spotify.

JR: …I have an app on my phone that lets me update our profile and stuff, and one day I got a notification that you could add photos to the background when someone’s listening to your song, and that just happened to be my most recent screenshot. 

KN: We thought it’d be fun for people to—if people had noticed, because usually you press ‘play,’ you now, whatever. But if you’re looking, you’re like, ‘What? Who’s this little guy?’ […] We’re silly, we just [like having] fun. 

In “Start Over Again,” which I heard in that  Daily Collegian video, Kristen, you sing ‘Is there a life for me that lines up with what I want to be?’ At the time of writing the song, I’m assuming you were in your later years of college—was figuring out where to go from there, and finding a life for yourself, something that you were struggling with? I just wanted to know your personal feelings and experiences behind those lyrics. 

KN: You’d be a good therapist, I didn’t even realize that. Yeah, I guess I was in the end of college, I was in probably like my last month, and I think I was just truly just saying words. I think my writing process is not so intentional with the words I choose, until I say them, if that makes any sense.

JR: Kristen has this talent where she can crank out lyrics like it’s nobody’s business.

KN: And it’s not like they’re not meaningful, they’re just not meaningful yet, and when I put them all together, I might not even relate to them that whole year or something, but I do believe that I come back to it, and I think there’s a line in that song that reflects that, that I did do purposefully. […] The line is, ‘and oh I hope that I feel all the things that I’ve said.’ […] It’s kind of that reflection of my songwriting process, where in the moment, I mean, things just come out. Truly, things just come out and I’m like ‘yeah, okay.’  

In “Angie,” Kristen you sing ‘And are you stuck between the fence of making love and making sense.’ Do you think that people, especially in young adulthood, struggle between listening to their heart versus listening to their head? 

KN: Yeah. Why not? I think that’s totally on the nose, I didn’t even realize that.


Have you guys seen people around you struggle with that?

KN: Oh yeah, especially at the age—well, at any age, it doesn’t matter what time you do things. But I think there’s a lot of pressure like ‘This is what you do now. You do this, and then you do this, and then you do this.’ But it doesn’t matter. And that’s my advice for you. 

JL: Okay, obsessed with the anecdote of ‘it literally doesn’t matter.’

I’ve gotten the impression that in many of your songs—like Zoo Miami Kangaroo, Give Up the Ship, and Portrait Lady, to name a few—the idea of getting out into the world and living freely is a common theme. How important is that notion of living freely to all of you, and is it something that you guys try to live by in your own lives?

JR: I feel like being a freelancer in the film industry was about the freest I’ve ever been. And it felt great. 


Do you ever find yourself wanting to go back to that?

JR: Basically, there’s few places where you can actually make this work, but New York was one of them. And you’re pretty much just jumping from project to project, whether it be daily, weekly, monthly basis, and it’s a type of situation where you can decide your own schedule, you can say yes and no to things, and you know, work on the types of projects you wanna work on. I love filmmaking, I love that industry, and I could see myself going back to it. But that was a time where I felt really free.

LN: I’m similar, as someone who’s currently freelancing. I’d say like right now, in terms of freedom, definitely the freest I’ve ever felt. And It’s definitely something that I’ve always kind of enjoyed, like just the whole independent doing everything with your own two hands, that’s just how I’ve kinda—that’s how I roll. But yeah, freedom’s nice. And it’s hard to see especially when you’re in high school and college, because your life is so structured around your classes, whatever extracurriculars you’re doing, and you can kind of get stuck in that whole loop. Like I’m just thinking about every high school year, your whole year’s pretty much mapped out around that, and it definitely can make a lot of anxiety, like thinking like that’s it, but after that, the rest of the world is wide open for you. 

KN: Yeah, it’s a scary thing to have nothing—It’s a scary thing to have no one telling you what to do at a certian point, but it’s also like, ‘oh, I truly can do whatever I want today.’ You just never know what’s gonna happen. 

JR: Takes a little bit to get used to. 

JL: I think similarly, it’s so weird when someone is telling you what to do, and you’re like ‘oh, I want freedom,’ and [then] you get it, and you’re like ‘Oh, sh*t. What do I do with this?’ 

Shifting gears a little bit, what have been some of your most memorable performance moments?

JL: House show.

LN: House show.

KN: Yeah, we did a really fun house show in August, in our—well, I guess I live there. In our basement downtown, and it was just really fun. Lots of great energy, and at that point, people knew our songs, so it was so fun to be on stage and to watch people mouth the words, I was like ‘you’re crazy for that!’ It was awesome. So that was really really fun, and we hope to do that again soon, we hope to play back in State College, like Webster’s or something, as soon as we can. If anyone knows anyone. 

JL: Yeah, I think also about that house show [it was] the fact that people came in from off the street and were just like ‘Oh my god, it sounded so good, we just needed to come in and see what it was. And it’s like okay, we’re literally getting people off the streets, this stuff is awesome. 

JR: Also, we played for the Model UN recently. The Model UN Conference. And we were expecting it to be a pretty lowkey thing, and we got to the venue, and they had this massive stage set up with lights and a giant sound system. 40-foot wide stage. I thought I was gonna be doing all the sound mixing and stuff myself, but there was a sound guy there, it was awesome. It was probably the best we’ve ever sounded. 

LN: It’s hard to think of one of our—the first show we played was fun, but it was also, I was freaking out. […] That was the first time we played in front of people that I kinda understood like okay, I knew how to respond to having an audience in front of me while playing.

KN: That was another house show, at our friend Keith’s basement. 

JR: Pre-COVID era. Pre-EP.

KN: Pre-COVID, pre-EP, early days. 

What are some things you’ve learned about yourselves through the process of writing and putting together your music?

KN: I think I’ve learned that this is really what I want to do, and I think I’ve danced around wanting to—I’ve danced around other things in music, like I worked at a recording studio briefly, I studied music technology, so I learned how to mix some stuff, and I’ve danced around being the musician because I was like ‘oh, I can’t do that, I can’t be that person, but I could try to do other things around it so it’s still my life.’ But then every time I’d do other things, I’m like ’I wanna be that. I wanna be that one.’ So I’m definitely more […] I’m not like ‘oh I wanna be a musician, I wanna be this person,’ I’m like ‘oh, I am. I play shows in New York, I do this, I am one.’ So I guess being comfortable and more confident in what I want. 

JR: For me, I love all these people in the boxes around me. So for me, it’s just like so much fun to do stuff with your friends and work towards a goal mutually. Just like having no expectations about it. So yeah, I’ve learned that I like working towards stuff with my friends. That’s probably also why I like making movies. 

LN: I’m similar to James, where I’m just a fan of the collaborative process, especially music or film, it’s just like, doing stuff with people that are on the same brainwave as you, is a really special thing, and it can be hard to find at times. So when you do find it, and you click with those people and everything’s kind of in sync, it’s truly like—there’s been times we probably played some of our best times and we were the only ones to hear it, but it’s still cool to think that we can just do that. Like I think we know each other well enough now to where it’s like we can kind of even just in a regular rehearsal studio, we can come up with something that’s like ‘hey, we can put that on the EP.’ ANd I’m a big fan of that whole process. 


Kind of tying in with that, what have been some of the biggest things you’ve learned from each other during your time in the band so far?

KN: I’ve definitely learned how to be more patient. I’m not traditionally a patient—I’m not a patient person, [..] like, once I write a song I’m like ‘okay, let’s release it right now.’ But that’s not how it works, unfortunately. Like we’ve been sitting on these new songs for how long now? Maybe nine months.

JR: Longer than that.

KN: At least a year, we’ve been sitting on these new songs, and it’s just such a process to get them ready to get out and it costs money and it costs time, so I’ve learned to be much more patient and with that, more attention to detail and really take my time to care for it in each step. 

JR: I think I’ve learned a lot about patience as well, but in a different way. I’ve gotten better at explaining things. In a way that people can understand/ 

KN: James is really the most musical I’d say. Like in technicality, and so when he writes all these awesome parts for everyone, he also has to teach everyone. So James is a really really good teacher. 

Do you have any musicians or sounds you’re inspired by?
KN: Yeah. We get this question all the time, and we always never answer it. Or we’re always like ‘What? Influences? Who?’ Like we need to think about this. We all actually have a lot of different styles that we just genuinely enjoy.

JR: Yeah, we’re all pretty different, we all have really different personalities, musical personalities. But I feel like a lot of our influences are pretty subconscious. Like I can’t pinpoint any artists we’re trying to emulate.

KN: Yeah, I like to think—I listen to a lot of classic rock and 60s, 70s, type stuff, so that subconsciously—I love the songwriting of Simon & Garfunkle, and I’m not saying that I’m writing what Simon & Garfunkle write, but I like the way they phrase things, so I’ve kind of thought about that a little bit. And that would be the extent of that. 


Just in general, do you guys have any favorite musicians that you like listening to?

KN: Yeah. Oh yeah. James,  you wanna start?

JR: Yeah. I think when it comes to writing parts, my bread and butter is like 90s and 2000s indie and alternative. Like for example, my top artist, according to Spotify, this past year was The New Pornographers. They’re a Canadian indie supergroup. I think they’re really good.

KN: My top band was the Beatles, and Olivia Rodrigo. Two timeless classics. 

LN: I—in terms of playing influences, I’ve tried to learn, I mean, when I was learning how to play, you try to learn every Rush song or every Van Halen song or whatever, ‘cause my dad would just show me how to play these old rock songs and I would just kind of adapt some of that. I mean me personally, I’ve kind of developed a style based on a Philly-based artist known as Alex G, and he’s kind of who I see as my biggest musical inspiration. 

KN: I’d also like to add I’m a little more folkly, I think. In my songwriting, as well. So I think I bring it to James where it’s really folky, and James is like ‘No.’ And so we kind of make a hybrid of that. 

JR: I love loud, Kris loves quiet.

KN: I hate loud things. 

JL: I think for me, my Spotify Wrapped top was Miley Cyrus, so listening-wise, I love strong female voices, but honestly, playing, I don’t know. I love the Haim sisters, and also The Roches have really been speaking to me recently, so it’s like harmonized female vibes. 


Do you have an all-time favorite song or a song that you can’t get enough of right now, and what makes it special to you? 

KN: A song that I can’t get enough of, recently—I’ll have two—one, going off of Julie, ‘The Hammon Song’ by the Roches has this beautiful—I sing it in the Daily Collegian, and I don’t do it justice because there’s these beautiful, beautiful harmonies on it, and they’re so —I mean, you put headphones on, and *imitates explosion noise*. So good. Very touching. And one that right now I can’t stop listening to is ‘The Whole of the Moon’ by The Waterboys. It’s just very fun and 80s. I like to feel dance-y. 

JR: For me, it’s gotta be a song called ‘Chocolate Matter’ by Sweet Trip. It’s like they took just the good parts of shoegaze and put it into one song.

LN: Don’t you mean all of shoegaze?

JR: No.
JL: You know what I’ve been listening to a lot recently? And this is like, since Thursday, so this is exclusive. But Kris and I, on Thursday, saw Gemma Laurence, and I can’t stop listening to a song by her called ‘Adrienne.’ And it’s gorgeous, it’s really beautiful, it’s really gorgeous songwriting, it makes me a little teary-eared. It’s so stinkin’ good. I can’t stop. I feel like it’s kind of like that winter, the winter greys, it’s very seasonally appropriate, and it’s a very gorgeous song. 

LN: I can’t nail down one song from my all-time favorite, but right now, I’ve been on a really big Deftones binge, they’re like a —I don’t wanna say they’re hard rock, but they’re this really melodic, like very ethereal kind of rock, and they have this song called ‘Digital Bath’ that I’ve been listening to a lot recently. Like the one, I think it was yesterday or two days ago I was driving and I listened to it three times on the same drive. 


What’s in the works and coming up for you guys? Do you have any upcoming shows or new music on the way?

KN: Yeah, the stuff coming up is that we’re doing a really cool live-to-vinyl session in January, so if you had preordered a song, you could pick what song you wanted, and we’d be like ‘hey, la la la, thank you for ordering this, this is for you,’ and it’s the only one of that kind. And we’ll make a couple extras if you come to the shows, and you can buy them there. But we have so many—well, not so many—but we have a new EP that we’re sitting on, and we’re working with a really great producer, which is really exciting, to have someone else come in and add their style as well. So we’re hoping to record that closer to maybe—I think […] May? And we’re super, super excited for that. And we’re hoping to come to State College and play some shows, because we haven’t been there in a while, and that’d be fun. 

JR: Probably January, right?

KN: Yeah, I’m working on something.

Finally, do you guys have a message you’d like to share with your fans or anybody who’s checking out this interview? 

JR: Thanks so much for listening. It really means a lot that you take the time.

KN: It truly means so much. Anytime someone is like—says something nice about the band, I’m like, ‘What? Really? That’s so nice.’ Like I love it, I love seeing people send me their Spotify Wrappeds and were on it, and I was like, ‘that is actually so absolutely insane. Any amount of listeners is so cool to me. One to a million. So thank you much, it truly does mean so, so much. 

JR: If you’d like to stay updated with what’s going on with the band, you may follow us on Instagram @wnhltheband.

KN: Yeah, that’s where we post what’s happening. And who we won’t get cease and desists from. Those are our two posts.