Out-of-this-world band Nebula to perform at Israel Independence Day celebration


Hillary Back/The Daily Northwestern

Weinberg senior Evan Bakker, the lead singer of Nebula, also plays guitar for the band, which will play at the upcoming Dillo Day Battle of the Bands.

James Bien, Writer

If you don’t already know Nebula from its performances at the Battle of the Bands or Dance Marathon, now’s a good time to get acquainted. The band will play alongside headliner AyOH and Shiloh on April 16 at Indie-pendence, a concert celebrating Israel Independence Day.

Nebula is made up of Weinberg senior Evan Bakker, McCormick sophomore Jake Besen and Weinberg and Bienen junior Stuart Babcock. The threesome met at the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia house, where they currently hold rehearsals. In fact, it was in the basement that lead singer Bakker and drummer Besen first decided to form a band. Its conception was casual.

“Initially, it was just Jake and I jamming every Friday after class. It wasn’t anything necessarily serious, but we came up with a lot of songs right away, so we wanted to pursue a full band, which was when Stuart came on as bass player,” Bakker said.

Since the band’s creation in October 2012, its style has developed quite a bit; however, the name “Nebula” embodies the group’s musical roots.

“Our sound has changed quite a bit, but we were originally a space-rock thing, so we picked something that reflected that,” Babcock said.

Their first single, “We Are Not Complete,” released on SoundCloud two months ago, also reveals elements of the genre. The bandmates describe their style as “pop-oriented” with “lingering elements of angst.”

Although Bakker, Besen and Babcock are devoted to developing their band’s sound, they each have diverse musical backgrounds. Babcock and Bakker had both been classically trained before they experimented with rock bands, and all three members had previously performed with bands in high school. Besen, who’s a big fan of punk groups Blink-182 and Green Day, played local gigs throughout high school with his band.

Nebula is a young band, and its recent success may be attributed to the members’ familiarity with musical performance, but Besen and Babcock also credit their accomplishments to their lead singer’s ability to churn out tuneful melodies.

“Personally, I think that Evan writes choruses that are catchy as f—,” Besen said. “They just linger in people’s heads.”

Bakker prioritizes good songwriting as an essential part of the band’s growth. He said he believes that ultimately, what the audience wants is good lyrics.

“Some musicians value technical skills, and I will never consider myself the greatest guitarist. But I made a very conscious decision when I was very young to commit myself to become the best songwriter I can be,” he said. “They don’t care if you can solo faster than someone else, or even if you can sing higher.”

It’s easy to find yourself singing along to “We Are Not Complete.” The lyrics of the song reflect humans’ inability to reach a sense of fulfillment through one thing, especially in the clutter of today’s society. Most of the band’s songs are written by Bakker, who is a philosophy major. The content of their songs range from the struggle of transitioning to the real world, past relationships and more superficial topics, such as parties.

“There is not a central theme to our songs at all,” Bakker said. “We sing about serious things and everyday things.”

On April 16, Nebula will open for Indie-pendence. The band said it’s excited to play in a Hard Rock Cafe-style space like 27 Live and to perform alongside established bands that have gained a presence in the Chicago area. They also view the concert as a kick-starter for a chain of gigs planned for the quarter.

“Ever since Dance Marathon, it’s been a cascade effect,” Bakker said. “We plan on playing at a lot of philanthropy events that people do in the spring.”

This spring, Nebula is also set to compete at Dillo Day Battle of the Bands. Despite each member’s previous experiences with performance, Dance Marathon had been the biggest audience they had performed for, and Dillo Day would provide an even larger venue.

“Dillo Day is a dream for all of us,” Babcock said. “I think we’re all nervous about that already. That is the big event on the horizon.”

However, with at least five shows planned for the quarter, the band is preparing for each performance as it comes.

“Dillo Day is on all of our minds, but we would definitely put equal energy into all of the shows we will have,” Bakker said.

In the near future, the band has plans to get its name out there. Nebula’s catchy melodies have caught the attention of many in the NU community, and in the spring its members anticipate gaining a larger fanbase through their shows.

“We are excited to play at shows beyond Dance Marathon,” Bakker said. “We are also looking into recording a few songs beyond our single right now.”