Very few bands deliver a unique experience with every release. N*E*R*D is one of those few. The genre-bending trio—Chad Hugo, Pharrell Williams and Shae Haley—has been producing an energetic hybrid of hip-hop, alternative rock and funk since 2001. Their albums In Search Of …, Fly or Die and Seeing Sounds have collectively sold more than a million copies and garnered critical acclaim. But for N*E*R*D, sharing their music is just as important as making it.
“Next to creating an album, our live performance is what we solely concentrate on,” says Haley, the vocalist. “We’re such an eclectic band and our objective [is] to come with loads and loads of energy throughout our live performance. We dedicated a lot of time and energy to our show. That’s like our signature. When you come to an N*E*R*D show, you know you’re going to get an energetic experience.”
The band has been busy this past year creating its fourth studio album, Nothing. Tinkering with a number of ideas and collaborations, N*E*R*D has been trying to pioneer an innovative sound. “When you listen to the radio, a lot of the songs sound the same,” Haley says. “We always wanted to be left from center and we’ve always wanted to cut a path and lead a trail for others to follow. That’s been the goal and we’ve done it effortlessly as it is instinctively in us, but it has always been our mission.”
Ultimately, Haley says that they are excited to perform the music they have been working on. “Creating is fun,” Haley says. “But going out and seeing the reaction of your fans or people who never even heard of you and end up admiring you after their first N*E*R*D show is an indescribable feeling.”
What is more impressive is how the trio have other side projects, but somehow find the time to come together like Voltron.
“N*E*R*D is our heart and what we eat, shit and breathe,” Haley says.
With Hugo constantly producing, Williams busy with his Billionaires Boys Club fashion line and collaborating with a number of artists and Haley managing two up and coming groups Mansions on the Moon and Christian Rich, it’s amazing how the trio make it work. “Of course our schedules clash but we always find time. … Next to the Roots and a couple of other bands, we’re like the ultimate touring band. You might see us in Europe and the next day you might see us in the center of fucking Vegas.”