Text by Linda Claycamp, Illustrations by Stan Shaw
Commonly regarded as the “Nicest Guy in Rock,” Puget Sound graduate Nabil Ayers is headed for stardom with his band, Alien Crime Syndicate. He describes this rock band’s sound as “edgy and loud and energetic. But there are also strong melodic and pop elements. The songs are very catchy.” Catchy indeed; they in fact inspire foot-tapping and singing along. ACS recently released their third CD, XL From Coast To Coast, and they’re spending a lot of time on tour this year, both in the United States and internationally. Says Nabil: “We take the band seriously, but it’s seriously fun.”
But long before the record deals and groupies, there was Spontaneous Funk Whorehouse, the first band that Nabil played in as a student at UPS. They played at campus functions and private parties, and in Tacoma clubs like Magoo’s and the Red Roof Pub. Nabil admits, “God, we were awful.” Next came Unspun, which Nabil formed during his junior year with three classmates, Jason Livermore, Chris Rafoth, and Luke Miller. After graduation, Nabil spent three years with The Lemons, a punk rock band influenced by KISS and the Ramones. Nabil calls this his first “real band” because they signed with a major record label. “We never experienced any commercial success, but it was a great ‘rock scholarship.’ I learned a great deal firsthand about the music business and met so many great people.” He left The Lemons in 1997 to devote more time to his side-band, Micro Mini, which put out two records before breaking up. In 1998 Nabil joined Alien Crime Syndicate.
But Nabil Ayers is not one of Puget Sound’s alumni who rock only because he’s a performer. He also owns a record label and two record stores in Seattle. His original record label, Collective Fruit, released 26 albums, and his new label, The Control Group, released the current ACS album before it was picked up by major label V2. Sonic Boom Records, a CD and record store which sells albums by popular musicians as well as independent releases and recordings by local artists, was created by Nabil and a former record-store co-worker in Seattle in 1997. They now have expanded to two locations: Fremont and Ballard.