Music News

Denver's Hook Junkies in OptycNerd Drop Debut Album

Indie-pop duo Optycnerd.
Chris Scott
Indie-pop duo Optycnerd.
“We are absolute junkies for hooks,” says OptycNerd singer Chris Kimmel. If that shows anywhere in the future-pop duo's music, it’s on its debut album, Never Come Down — which drops August 30.

Bandmates Chris Kimmel and Chris Scott — affectionately dubbed "the Chrises" — have been at it a long time. They met at a house party while both were students in the University of Colorado Denver’s recording arts program in 2014.

“Because we were in the recording arts program, we had access to the studio, so we would hit the studio together and start working, and it bloomed from there,” says Kimmel. "I would say since we met in 2014, we see each other every week — once a week, at least."

After five years of working together, Kimmel and Scott felt ready to drop a full-length album.

“All the songs we wrote over the last two years. Some of them are even older than that," says Scott. "We just reworked them. It’s like the culmination of us refining our sound, and it’s a good representation of us as band."

Produced entirely by Kimmel and Scott, Never Come Down is polished. From the album opener, “L.M.B.Y.R.,” to tracks like “Don’t Call,” “Song About a Rich Girl” and the album single, “Flying,” the duo's commitment to high-quality work shines. The album is fluid and natural, neither putting on airs nor burying things in effects.

While not a chart-topping hit-factory, OptycNerd has found some local and national success, in part from the 2015 edition of 93.3’s Hometown for the Holidays, where it placed in the top three with the song “Marathons.”

“People started playing it on Spotify, and because we got so many plays in such a short period of time, we got picked up on a ton of playlists,” says Scott.

“It was this amazing positive-feedback loop,” says Kimmel. “It was this crazy whirlwind; then all of a sudden we were like, 'Oh, it’s not.'”

“Yeah. We spoke to eight or ten A&R reps from major labels, and nothing came of it,” laughs Scott. “But now it’s great, because that song still gets playlisted, and because of that, so many of our other songs get playlisted.”

Despite that success, the two no longer have the expectation of making it. Instead, the producers focus on making the music they want to make.

“In the bigger picture, I feel what inspires us is the outcome. We put so much work into these songs and ideas, bouncing ideas off of each other and rewriting and rewriting. And all of a sudden we have these dope songs,” says Kimmel. “We play them live, and people are vibing. That’s the best feeling in the world, and that’s what kept us going. We have this album that I listen to, and I actually enjoy it. I feel that if you don’t like your own music, then that sucks.”