By Alec Johnson
It’s an odd name for a band, but a memorable one.
Meet Nanook and the Weightlifters. There is Justin Blanner, the lead singer and guitarist; Zach Salerno, the bassist; Kyle Curtis, guitarist and Nick Konkoli, the drummer. All of them are around age 16, with Blanner residing in Fishers and Salerno, Curtis and Konkoli residing in Carmel.
“We have a pretty wide repertoire, but I would say we lean towards rock, jazzier stuff in the rock realm,” Blanner said about his band’s musical style.
The band started two or three years ago, according to Blanner, when they were playing music at Carmel’s School of Rock. As for its name, it came from something in Konkoli’s basement when he and Curtis were hanging out.
“We made up the band name as a joke, because there’s a Frank Zappa song, and he refers to a guy named Nanook,” Konkoli said, “and I just thought it was funny, and there was weights in my band room, and so I said ‘Nanook and the Weightlifters’, and we went with it. It’s funny.”
The band became official last July. They released their first song via Soundcloud in August, “Electric Hour”. They have also played a number of events, including an IndyStar-hosted talent show in October at Morty’s Comedy Club, a Mardi Gras celebration hosted by the Traders Point Hunt Club and “The Night to Unite” event at the Athenaeum in March.
One of the talent show judges, Tim Wright, noticed their talent, and was impressed with how they played. He stayed in touch, saw them rehearse, and then heard them play at Ben & Ari’s last December. Wright, a member of the Wright Brothers Band, was impressed with this performance, too.
“I was grinning from ear to ear because I just thought, ‘Wow, here it is, these young guys … it just reminded me of my own experience growing up and just falling in love with playing in a band so much, and now I see that same energy, that same passion with these young guys, and I just really thought, ‘Wow, that would be so cool if they got a few gigs around here and got known because they’re that good. They’re a really good band,” Wright said.
Looking ahead to the future, Blanner hopes to get an album produced, and keep the band going through high school and beyond.
“We all hope it does. Whether or not it actually does is hard to foresee, but we would like it to,” Blanner said.