We spoke with LAW’s drummer Nick Aguilar, who gave us a long awaited introduction to the up and coming Long Beach rockers. Discussing everything from opening for Sublime with Rome to their upcoming debut EP, Nick provided some insight into the band’s experiences, and answers the question, “Who is LAW?”
“At the end of the day, I would just say that we’re a rock band,” says Aguilar. “We can be heavy, we can be soft, and we can be in-between. Whenever people ask what we are, I just say that we’re a fucking rock band because I really can’t put a genre name on it. I guess you could say punk rock, I guess some elements of ska and reggae, some hip-hop here and there with an alternative rock kind of edge to our songs. It’s all very confusing.”
We usually don’t cover bands composed of recent high school grads, but LAW is a unique case, particularly because it’s led by Jakob Nowell, the son of Sublime frontman Brad Nowell. Starting as a three-piece and now a quartet, LAW’s members include Jakob Nowell (Vocals/Guitar), Dakota Ethridge (Vocals/Bass), Aidan Palacios (Lead Guitar), and Nick Aguilar (Drums).
Finding an identity is an obstacle every young adult has to overcome, and that especially applies in a band. With the lead singer being who he is, it’s only natural for fans to want to compare LAW with Sublime, however those comparisons don’t sit too well with the band.
“That’s always been kind of annoying for all of us,” explains Aguilar. “I mean obviously it’s a good factor to help us out with our publicity and stuff, and I can’t blame the fans for doing it because its what we all expected, but we’re trying our best to do our own thing. With this EP, I think it’s gonna showcase that we are a bit different. We still kind of have the Sublime vibe just because of who Jake is. He sounds a lot like his dad, there’s no denying that, but he takes a lot of different influences from all different kinds of artists and so do I. We all have very different musical tastes, and we all bring to the table whatever sounds good at the end of the day. We don’t really care about the genre or whatever the hell we’re playing, all we want to do is play whatever we think sounds good.”
LAW: Coming Together
When asked how the band got its name, Aguilar says, “The name LAW actually came about between Dakota and Jake when they used to live in San Diego. Law was the name of a street in Pacific Beach, and Jake’s house and Dakota’s house connected to each other from Law Street.”
Miguel Happoldt, a major figure in the Long Beach music scene, is responsible for putting the band together. Nick, whose been playing the drums since he was ten years old, described his chance encounter with Miguel that led him to become LAW’s drummer.
“When I was twelve I really got into punk rock, and my dad worked with the organ player in Mike Watt’s band. Mike lives in San Pedro, where I’m from, and one day the organ player told my dad ‘hey I heard your son plays drums, he should fill in on a song with us one day.’ So I learned the song ‘This Ain’t No Picnic’ and I played that. Mike thought I was gonna be like a little kid act but I blew him away doing that song, especially at that age. Then in July 2012, Miguel was in the audience while I was playing the last two songs of Mike Watt’s set at DiPiazza’s. I actually had no idea who Miguel was or anything, but he came up to me after the show and asked ‘What’s the two hardest Minutemen songs you can play?” and I said ‘I guess those two.’ I really didn’t think anything of it. And then about a month later I got an email from Mike saying that Miguel wanted me to play drums for Jake Nowell’s band. It took a few months for Jake and Dakota to move up to Long Beach, but once they did we were officially started as a band.”
Watch: Mike Watt and the Secondmen with Nick Aguilar – “This Ain’t No Picnic”
LAW: Performing Live
“It’s kind of hard to say what our best show was, but not gonna lie, I really enjoyed the show we did opening up for Slightly Stoopid in Soma, San Diego. I’m not saying that just because it was Slightly Stoopid, I mean obviously it was an honor to be opening for them and Perro Bravo, but for some reason, on that stage, we sounded really damn good that night. It all kind of came together and that was a really good show.”
Another good show that stuck out in Nick’s mind is one that was met with a hint of controversy from fans. That being the December 2013 show at the House of Blues in Anaheim, where LAW opened for Sublime with Rome.
“It was cool that we got to play that show. Rome is honestly a really nice guy, he came to our green room and talked with us and everything. Jake even went on stage to sing ‘What I Got’ with him. He was talking to me after the show about a bunch of hardcore punk bands that he’s into and I thought that was really fucking cool.”
In a separate interview with Rome Ramirez, Rome shared the same sentiment regarding Jake and LAW.
“We’re real close with Troy & Jake, I mean especially with Eric being close with them as well. As soon as Jake started doing shows, I caught wind of it and I had to put him on the show. Jake is so incredibly fucking talented. He can sing his ass off and shreds on the guitar. His dad would be so fucking proud of him. He’s super intelligent too, he’s a very good kid. There’s a treat waiting to happen for him.”
When asked if the band felt any hesitation when the opportunity to open for SWR presented itself, Aguilar said, “We didn’t even really think about it. A show is a show. There’s a good audience, good publicity, so it was really just whatever and we went into it.”
LAW: Original Music
LAW’s eight-song debut EP is set for release on Skunk Records on Friday August 28th, and it came to fruition after many years of writing and some tough days in the studio. When asked how he enjoyed his first experience working in the studio, Aguilar said, “It was kind of stressful. Time is money and there’s only so much you can do. When you go in there for ten hours, it seems like you’re gonna have a lot of time to do everything, but time goes by extremely fast, it’s ridiculous. It’s kind of hard to explain what it’s like to be in a studio until you’re actually there, but it’s difficult at some points.”
As of now, the band has released two songs on their bandcamp page, the Mic Dangerously engineered “Flower” and “Getting By,” both of which were written by Jake Nowell when he was fifteen years old.
When asked why the band chose those two songs in particular to release early, Aguilar explained, “We thought ‘Flower’ was a good way to showcase what we had to offer. It’s kind of a mixture of everything like ska, stoner rock, punk rock, reggae, and hip-hop. It’s a little bit of a messy song, but Jake wrote it when he was really young and he felt comfortable releasing it.”
Aguilar admits that Jake is the band’s primary writer, but he went on to explain that all the members have an input in songwriting, especially Dakota, whose written several tracks of his own.
Aguilar mentioned how he enjoys playing “Flower” and “Getting By” live, but his favorite song to play is “Drown It,” which he describes as a “grungier sounding tune that Jake wrote a couple of months ago.”
The band will be releasing their EP on the same week that they all return to college, but they already have their sights on their next project.
“Definitely a full-length [album]. We have a lot of new material that we want to start recording as soon as possible after we release the EP. Miguel has offered to produce this one this time if we do it his way, which is fine because he’s a great producer, so hopefully we can do it with him this time.”
Those of you looking for the third coming of Sublime won’t find it on this EP. LAW may still be in the process of finding themselves, but they’re doing it their own way, and we respect them for it. Good luck out there, boys.
Listen: LAW- “Flower”