Nameless Friends pull no punches. The rock band from London, Ontario, leaves no altar un-scorched with their latest single “Demons”, a scathing critique of right-wing, religious discrimination toward 2SLGBTQIA+ people. Check it out on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHXKO2469j0
The closest thing the band’s debut album – Blasphemy – has to a title track, “Demons” is relentless in its assessment of queerphobic ‘Christianity’. It’s a six-minute, gospel prog epic satirizing gaslighting and toxic positivity in organized religion, that devolves into a wicked organ solo halfway through (think Deep Purple meets Dream Theatre meets Boston).
And just in case that didn’t make the band’s point clear enough, the accompanying music video features a “sexy gay baptism”; 12,000 rainbow rose petals; an “unhinged”, televangelist-esque sermon from ‘the Reverend Chad’; and a stunning performance from Toronto drag queen Jordana Myles, filmed on the altar of converted-church-recording-studio Catherine North in Hamilton, Ontario.
The band – who perform under the aliases of Number One, Number Two, Number Three, Number Four, Number Five, Number Six, and Number Seven – intends to make a statement with its debut album. Loudly.
“Blasphemy is a concept and protest album about the surge of right-wing, religious bigotry in politics and popular culture,” the band explained. “Nameless Friends has female, queer, and immigrant members, members of colour, and members with chronic illnesses and neurodivergence. We wrote this album in solidarity with the communities being targeted and oppressed in the name of capitalist, patriarchal, white supremacist ‘religious freedom.’”
Listen on Spotify here; https://open.spotify.com/track/1H7OS7xsP63Yd6GrZ7kIJM?si=1e9df4481657428a&nd=1
And they are willing to put their platform where their mouth is. In the weeks preceding “Demons” release, the band has amassed hundreds of thousands of views on social media for speaking out against a new school naming policy championed by Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, which many civil rights organizations argue harms transgender children.
They are also donating all of the ad revenue from “Demons” music video to two “life-saving” queer support organizations, Rainbow Railroad and Trans Lifeline.
But that doesn’t mean Nameless Friends, or their music, is bleak. In fact, the band pushes back that calling out negatives doesn’t have to be gloomy. “Joy, hope, and love are also vital human experiences,” said Number One, the band’s frontwoman and Blasphemy’s producer. “We’re trying to present those truths with as much courage as the hard stuff…We’re trying to make music about the justice we want to see in the world, that’s also really bloody fun to listen to.”
This is the band’s first original album but not their first rodeo. Nameless Friends previously released a live LP of Queen covers that they recorded in front of a sold-out crowd at Toronto’s “legendary” Horseshoe Tavern. They have been spending 2023 touring around Canada, first hitting venues around Ontario and Quebec in May and June, and now heading to the prairies in October.
If you ask them, Blasphemy sounds like classic Queen, early Pup, and early Rage Against the Machine fronted by Heart or Janis Joplin. “The production is bright, bold, clean, and classic: less hyper-compressed than the big rock/pop records, and energized with unvarnished performances, including no tuning software or pitch correction on any of the lead vocals.”
The group had help from a talented team to round out the project. Andrew McLeod, also known as Sunnsetter, mixed it, while Darcy Proper, the first female engineer to win a Grammy, mastered the work.
The nine-track album delivers on the message it promises, with its latest single “Demons” serving as a key piece to the puzzle.
The band knows exactly who it wrote Blasphemy for: “If anyone has ever dared to tell you that their sky daddy doesn’t love you, this record is for you.”
Nameless Friends Tour Dates:
October 12 – Sault Ste. Marie @ Reggie’s Place Tavern
October 13 – Thunder Bay @ Black Pirates Pub
October 14 – Winnipeg @ The Handsome Daughter
October 18 – Calgary @ Modern Love
October 19 – Edmonton @ The Aviary
October 20 – Regina @ O’Hanlon’s Pub
October 21 – Saskatoon @ Amigo’s Cantina
October 28 – London @ Palasad Socialbowl
November 16 – Toronto @ the Bovine Sex Club