The Deli Philly's Featured Artist(s) Poll Winner: Nematode

By: Alexis V.

April 26, 2018

Nematode are proof that the sounds of classic psych rock/pop are alive and well in the minds and hearts of the next generation of local musicians. Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Aaron Mughannam brought the spirit of his hometown, San Francisco, to Philly’s Drexel University, and his ideas have taken root, with help from collaborators Larry Flatley (Blind Lion), Mike Downey, and Kazim Zaidi. Below is their latest single, "Friends," and you can learn more about the fledgling quartet below.

The Deli: How did you start making music? 

Nematode: All of the members of Nematode have been musicians since their early childhoods. When multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Aaron Mughannam left his hometown of San Francisco to study design at Drexel University in late 2014, he started listening to a lot of alternative and psychedelic music like Pink Floyd, Radiohead and Tame Impala, which inevitably led him to try to write and produce psychedelic music. He wrote about 20 songs over the course of 3 years, and had created a few demos with sequenced drums, digital bass, keyboards and vocals. At this point, the tracks were all really skeletal, and still needed a band to make them shine. He met the band's publicist Madi Baver at Drexel in Philadelphia, and through her, met guitarist and vocalist Larry Flatley, who at the time was the frontman of an alternative, emo act called Blind Lion. The three of them quickly became friends, and when Larry heard the songs Aaron had written and the few Nematode demos that existed at that point, they immediately began collaborating to make the project a reality. Larry introduced Aaron to his friends and past collaborators Kazim and Mike, who now play bass and drums for the band, respectively. Recently, Larry has shifted his songwriting style to be more in-line with Nematode's aesthetic, and has been contributing material at the same rate as Aaron. The songs are recorded and mixed by Kazim at his studio in Freehold, NJ.

TD: Where did the name Nematode come from? 

N: Aaron got the idea for it from the SpongeBob episode where SpongeBob's house gets eaten by nematodes.

TD: What are your biggest musical influences?

Aaron Mughannam: Pink Floyd, Radiohead, and the Beatles are the major ones, I'd say.

Larry Flatley: David Gilmour and John Mayer are two guitarists who have majorly influenced my playing.

Mike Downey: Dave Grohl, The Supervillains, The Gorillaz.

Kazim Zaidi: Jeff Buckley, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Willie Colon, Vulfpeck.

TD: What artists (local, national and/or international) are you currently listening to?

AM: Radiohead, Vulfpeck, Soko, and Deathgrips. 

LF: Vulfpeck, Dr. Dog, The Dear Hunter.

MD: Vulfpeck, Anderson.Paak and The Gorillaz,

KZ: Alison Krauss, Rex Orange County, and Vulfpeck.

TD: What's the first concert that you ever attended and first album that you ever bought?

AM: My first concert was Rush, and the first song I bought was “Smack That” by Akon. 

LF: First real concert was seeing The Who with my dad; first album was The Young and The Hopeless by Good Charlotte.  

MD: A Day to Remember and Hybrid Theory - Linkin Park  was the first CD I ever owned. 

KZ: My first concert was Audioslave! I don't know the first album I ever bought, but maybe something by Nirvana?

TD: What do you love about Philly?

AM: There's nothing good about Philly, except for the people. I've made some great friends here. The city itself isn't that great…haha.

LF: Great underground music scene.

MD: The badass artsy vibe.

KZ: The babes. ;) Also great music and art, less garbage than NY.

TD: What do you hate about Philly?

AM: The weather sucks ass.

LF: The wind and the PPA.

MD: The potholes.

KZ: Can be garbage-y at times.

TD:  What are your plans for 2018?

AM: Get a full time job, probably in the fashion design industry, and also release my debut album.

LF: I just want to be able to afford to live while being able to focus solely on music.

MD: Same. 

KZ: I look forward to recording Nematode and several other bands, releasing my first solo album, and beginning work on a new one!

TD: What was your most memorable live show?

AM: I've only personally played 5 so I don't think I should pick one yet.

LF: My old band Blind Lion's first headlining show is my favorite. It’s very surreal to see words you wrote being sung by a crowd.

MD: Nerve Damage and Blind Lion at the J House.

KZ: In college, my friends and I played a house show; then brought about 10 people back to my dorm to drink till sunrise. Afterwards, we all hit the dining hall around 7am. :)

TD: What's your favorite thing to get at the deli?

AM: I like roast beef A LOT. 

LF: I'm a sucker for a good Italian.

MD: Corned Beef.

KZ: Aaron shares his roast beef with me. Thanks Aaron, love ya bb.