Three Bands You Need to Watch in 2019

Sweet Fever, Napkin, and Moonlight Zoo — Hard Rock’s 2019 Battle of the Bands finalists — will compete on June 21 at New York City’s iconic Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. In the audience will be top music industry executives who are always on the lookout for the world’s most talented unsigned artists. We sat down with each of the finalists to give you a first look at these three bands you need to watch in 2019.

Sweet Fever

Origin: Nashville, Tennessee

Members: Jake Kimble, Derrick Wesley, Nolan Brown, and Nicholas Amend

Describe the music scene in your hometown. What’s it like being an unsigned band trying to break through?

Music City’s reputation precedes it, but many people don’t realize that Nashville has a ton of world-class musicians in all sorts of genres. Although the honky tonks are fun, there are also blues bars, jazz rooms, and open-mic nights where you can hear songwriters perform. It’s really nice that you can see a live show any night of the week and utilize those opportunities to learn and network. The revival of rock ‘n’ roll in Nashville has become a grand community of artists helping and supporting one another’s careers. But the music business can be equally cold and cutthroat, so it’s all about the hustle and staying true to your passions.

What are three albums that changed the way you listen to music and shaped your style?

  1. “How the West Was Won” by Led Zeppelin exposed us to storytelling and the larger-than-life power of rock ‘n’ roll.
  2. “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver” by The Beatles inspired us to play alongside the record to learn the songs.
  3. Bob Seger’s “Live Bullet” revealed the excitement of a stadium concert before we could even afford to go to one.

If you could perform at any venue in the world, where would it be and why?

We have a saying in the band — Wembley or bust! It would be the highest honor to walk on that stage with the knowledge of all the legends who have made it sacred.

What are some of the names you considered for your band that didn’t make the cut?

It came down to “Witness” or “Dog Snot,” but neither felt right. At the time, Jake and Derrick wrote a song called “Sweet Fever,” and it made for a better band name.

If you become a global phenomenon, what’s one food you’d demand to have on your artist rider contract for the dressing room?

Who wouldn’t want to taste amazing food around the world? We’d ask for the freshest local produce from the nearest farmers’ market. The fewer stops our food makes from earth to table, the more sustainable our way of life will be.

Napkin

Origin: Curitiba, Brazil

Members: Kimberly Neves, Natana Alvarenga, Jefferson Franco Rincao, Lucas Machado, and Paulo Cesar Nunes Junior

Describe the music scene in your hometown. What’s it like being an unsigned band trying to break through?

It requires a lot of effort, dedication, and consistency to be an independent artist. It’s an ongoing challenge to do things all by yourself. Sometimes, we lack the resources to put into practice everything we have in mind. Other times, it’s a bit frustrating because we have a lot more to give the world than we really can, but, at the same time, we believe this challenge is part of the journey.

Often, we don’t know if we’re doing the right thing, but it’s brought us to where we are today. We always try to get close to other local artists and see their perspectives. We’re new to the scene in Curitiba, but we’ve spent time studying and getting to know the market. In fact, Curitiba is a very big city with many places to explore. We have some local artists standing out at the national level, and this proves there’s room for us — both in the city and in the rest of the country.

Although our style of music is more challenging in terms of “making it” in the industry, it’s important to see that Brazil has its eyes on our local scene and to know that we can be heard — so we can also go beyond our borders and build and international career.

What are three albums that changed the way you listen to music and shaped your style?

  1. “How to Be a Human Being” by Glass Animals
  2. “Blurryface Twenty” by One Pilots
  3. “Melodrama” by Lorde

If you could perform at any venue in the world, where would it be and why?

There are so many amazing places and festivals all over the world, but if we had to pick just one, it would be Coachella. We have a huge admiration for the festival, for the artists who have performed there, and for its purpose, organization, and style. It’s also very attractive to think about doing the same show twice — in a way, it would be two shots to show that we know exactly what we’re doing on that stage.

What are some of the names you considered for your band that didn’t make the cut?

We looked for something that’s contradictory or that mixed our names together, so before we got to our name we thought of “Black Snow” and “NIK Road.” It didn’t take long to realize they were bad ideas. When the word “Napkin” came up in the debate, it was an instant click. Besides being a combination of our names, the word “napkin” itself represents, in a subtle way, the communication we have with our audience.

If you become a global phenomenon, what’s one food you’d demand to have on your artist rider contract for the dressing room?

One of our biggest dreams is to tour around the world, and perhaps a good way to get to know the culture of each place is trying a typical local dish. But maybe the wisest thing to do would be to order backup cheeseburgers — just in case!

moonlight-zoo

Moonlight Zoo

Origin: Glasgow, Scotland

Members: Sean De Francesco, Jamie Adamson, Aly O’Mahoney, and Reece Dobbin

Describe the music scene in your hometown. What’s it like being an unsigned band trying to break through?

For a town of its size, my hometown of Dunfermline is an unbelievable hotbed of talented bands. You just need to look back at history to see the caliber of bands that have come from Dunfermline, and you’ll be surprised. Even now, there are so many great acts playing so many different types of music, and there’s a real sense of community where everyone supports one another.

What are three albums that changed the way you listen to music and shaped your style?

  1. “Big Country” by The Crossing for the riffs
  2. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles for the stories
  3. “Days Are Gone” by HAIM for the sass

If you could perform at any venue in the world, where would it be and why?

The Paramount Theatre in New York because it would be incredible to play such an iconic venue across the Atlantic. And, if we get to play there, it means we’ve also just won $15,000.

What are some of the names you considered for your band that didn’t make the cut?

I’ve wiped most of those names from memory — they were so terrible. Everyone comes up with really bad band names at the start. I remember one was “Mountain Wild,” which is not only a bad name, but also sounds very folky.

If you become a global phenomenon, what’s one food you’d demand to have on your artist rider contract for the dressing room?

I can’t think of one in particular, but my dad is a really great cook, so I’d probably just bring him on tour with us to cook all the meals. He can be a bit annoying though, so after he’s done cooking, we’ll have to lock him away in a flight case until we get to the next venue.

Follow the Battle of the Bands

To learn more about these bands, check out the performances that landed them in the top three finalists of Hard Rock’s 2019 Battle of the Bands. Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram to see which band wins on June 21.