These days, with N¤E¤R¤D stumping all over the country in support of their third album, “Seeing Sounds,” out June 10, they’re proving this band is more than a fluke. Actually, members said, N¤E¤R¤D always has been more representative of what’s on their musical minds than their Neptunes work. Their fashion-art-hipster music may still not be playing on America’s rigid radio formats, but with a spot on Kanye West’s tour and a third album coming out, N¤E¤R¤D may finally become famous for being N¤E¤R¤D than for being a side hustle for the Neptunes. “What’s cool about it,” Pharrell said, “is that in the cool circles we got that respect, so we really appreciate our core.”
Earlier this year, the group played small concert halls including The National in Richmond. “And that’s why we did that tour before the Kanye tour, in the secondary market, because those are the guys that made us. With this tour we’re playing much bigger venues. And with the Internet being much bigger than what it was nine years ago when we first started, it’s a whole different ballpark. BET put us on ‘Rip The Runway’ when the single (“Everyone Nose”) was freshly leaked – that’s a big move.” The group is featured on the cover of The Source’s June Issue – a slightly bold move given that the magazine has always been a strictly hip-hop bible. “I wouldn’t peg them either rock or hip-hop and that’s the beauty of it,” said senior editor Juan Pablo. “Maybe it’s our time,” Pharrell said.
DJ Bee of hip-hop station 103 Jamz made an important point: N¤E¤R¤D was at the forefront of the rock-rap-skater hybrid movement that’s big now, but such counter-culture types “are the people who don’t listen to the radio.” It’s as if the group exists in its own galaxy, one inhabited by people bored with limits, labels and convention. “I went to school with kids that listened to nothing but rock,” he said. “I went to school with kids that listened to nothing but hip hop. In school I had to play nothing but jazz or classical. A lot of my friends listened to nothing but progressive rock, grunge, indie. Who we are as individuals is N¤E¤R¤D.” says Pharrell “I’ve been interacting with people on MySpace,” Haley said. “Fans requested to hear more of me. So we listened and gave them what they wanted, while doing what was necessary for the songs. We all decided I should be a little more vocal.”