Brass band achieves Nirvana: The cover songs are… whatever, Nevermind

Brass band achieves Nirvana: The cover songs are… whatever, Nevermind

Grunge music is blowing up!

A brass band that only plays Nirvana songs will kick off the 10th annual Honk NYC! marching band festival with a gig at Park Slope’s Barbes on Oct.11. The Nevermind Orchestra will play all their pretty songs with a one-of-a-kind blend of N’awlins flair and flannel rock, according to the band’s drummer.

“We’re equal parts old-school grunge headbanging with New Orleans second line dancing,” said Williamsburg resident Sunil Soman, a founding member of the Nevermind Orchestra.

The band formed when Soman, who had dreamed of starting a Nirvana cover band, teamed up with trumpet player Indofunk Satish, who was trying to start a brass band. Together, the pair reworked Nirvana’s tracks for brass instruments, and the Nevermind Orchestra was born. Soman said that the experience made him realize how complex the band’s songs actually are.

“All of the songs seem very, very simple but they’re not,” he said. “It was a lot of fun but then it turned into this real great educational experience.”

The outfit, with its 11 rotating members, has about 20 Nirvana tunes in its catalog, including the entire “Nevermind” album. But don’t expect a simple transliteration of “All Apologies” to brass instruments — the band also creates unique arrangements, including a Bollywood-style mashup of lesser-known songs “Molly’s Lips” and “Sliver,” which Satish said always gets the crowd bouncing.

“It’s a great crowd pleaser and it’s really fun to play,” he said.

Soman thinks that Cobain himself, were he still alive, would probably laugh off their efforts.

“I think at first he might think we’re kind of cartoonish. I think Dave Grohl would think it’s really cool,” said Sunil.

And Satish said that assessment is accurate — when he met the Nirvana drummer and told him about the Orchestra, Grohl “told me he thought it was cool,” said the trumpeter.

The Nevermind Orchestra often performs on the subway or on the street, and people who encounter them are thrilled and amazed by the experience, according to Satish.

“There’s shock, awe, and amazement,” he said. “No one can lift their jaws off the floor when they realize what we’re doing.”

The Barbes show, with the band Slavic Soul Party, launches the five-day Honk NYC! Festival, with 21 brass ensembles performing across the city.

The Nevermind Orchestra at Barbes (376 Ninth St. at Sixth Avenue in Park Slope, www.honknyc.com). Oct. 11 at 7 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill