Your Next Favorite Band: The Last Year

Baltimore band The Last Year — featuring Niki Barr (vocals), Scott Ensign (bass/synth), BJ Kerwin (drums), and Scott Griffith (guitar) — seamlessly manages to give retro sounds a new, modern life. The band creates a brighter alternative rock sound, but don’t mistake it for lightness. Their laid-back yet driving beat still packs a punch.

I got the chance to speak with lead singer Niki about the band.


Germ Magazine: Hello, and thanks for agreeing to this interview!
Let’s start with how you got into music. When did you know this was something you could and wanted to pursue?

Niki: I grew up around music. My dad played drums and was in a rock band. His brothers all played different instruments — bass, synth, saxophone, etc. My mom’s side was full of musicians, too. In fact, my grandfather made money writing music, which he used to move to the US. It was my elementary school music teacher, though, who really nurtured my voice and ears.


GM: The family business! I love it. Where do you find inspiration for your music?

Niki: I’ve always found it in other music and live shows. It’s so inspiring to FEEL the music, the rumble of the bass, the skin tingling echo of the guitars, and see a band perform the songs they created. I could get lost in those moments forever.


GM: How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?

Niki: Guy Dark (of WWWX) once said, “If David Bowie and Debbie Harry had a daughter, she would sound like Niki.” We’re a little retro new wave and a little alternative rock. If you’re into late ’80s and early ’90s kind of stuff, you’ll probably dig our sound.


unspecified2GM: I know you’ve toured quite a bit together. Do you have any fun or interesting stories of things that have happened while on stage?

Niki: I once played a hole-in-the-wall in Frederick, MD. Sometimes, I’ll venture out into the audience during the show, and I did just that. I stood up on a chair in the middle of everyone, and I was singing or saying something. All of a sudden, this guy wraps his arms around me and bites the side of my stomach so hard he left teeth marks. My reaction was to start swinging and, fortunately, security escorted him out.


GM: Oh my goodness! That’s insane. Do you have any advice for young writers and creators?

Niki: There is absolutely nothing you can’t learn how to do yourself! Everything from writing, recording, graphic design, photography, film/video, social media, to merchandising, you (and the band) should learn how to do everything yourself. We’re in an era of mass consumption, and there’s not much money in actual recordings these days. So, if you can avoid hiring people to record your records or make music videos, you’ll be leaps ahead!


GM: What can we expect next from you? Is there a new album or tour on the horizon?

Niki: We just released our new record, Static Automatic, last month (available on iTunes!) and we’ll be hitting the road in July. Stay tuned!


GM: Sounds great! Finally, where can we find you and your music?

Niki: Our website and we’re on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc!


GM: Thanks again for being interviewed! I look forward to what comes next.

Niki: Thank you so much!!


Check out the video to The Last Year’s song “Rush”:

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