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The best kept secret in music


"Locals Only: Norust for the Wicked"

Impressive up-and-coming rockers Norust find themselves in music

Interview By Dale Johnson

First, let's get the pronunciation straight -- it's not "No rust" as in, "There is no rust on the prow of the ship." It's "nor rust," as in ... the name of the band.

"It comes from Neil Young," says Norust guitarist Travis Talbert. In a roundabout way, the name references Neil Young's Rust Never Sleeps. Norust thinks a little differently than most, which is good news for local music fans looking for something unique.

Norust is a young band that came into its present lineup last summer and then added Jake Lillenstein (vocals/acoustic guitar), who sometimes bills himself as "Ruebin Church." Nathan Wagner (drums) and Dan Fisk (bass), played together for several years before adding guitarist Talbert and Lillenstein to the mix. They are, however, pretty new to the publicity/media game, which was evidenced in their answer to one of my questions.

"Is there anything, anything at all, that you'd like to say to the readers of CityBeat?"

Wagner: "Thanks for reading?"

But, it's that kind of earnestness and concern that make Norust's music so appealing. Their sound has an uncompromising, yet accessible, integrity to spare, putting one in mind of Pearl Jam in the Ten era or, fittingly, Neil Young and Crazy Horse. You can hear something very real, almost elemental, in their music, like discovering a small truth of life. There's no predominant influence to their sound -- they take cues from everybody from John Lee Hooker to Bob Dylan to The Beatles to Blind Melon.

"We can't trade CDs back and forth," says Fisk. "We can't go, 'Hey Travis, listen to this CD I just bought,' because he probably wouldn't like it; likewise for everybody else (in the band). But we're able to come together and write songs that please all of us."

In March they entered the Northern Kentucky University "Battle of the Bands" contest without really knowing anyone at NKU and won the contest, something they weren't expecting to do.

"That was the weirdest thing ever," says Wagner about the win. "We went in thinking it was just for publicity. We didn't bother promoting it at all. We didn't even tell our friends to go. We played first, and lots of people showed up after we played -- so we figured the chances of us winning were slim to none. We played a decent show, I mean, it wasn't anything spectacular."

"We did pretty good," says Fisk without a trace of irony or gloating.

Music is a great passion for the members of Norust, and their biggest goal is to bounce some of that enthusiasm the listener's way.

"I just want to make people feel good," says Lillenstein in regard to performing and songwriting. "This is the only thing that makes me feel truly happy. I find it very hard in life to be truly honest, and I really think that onstage I'm totally honest. (Honesty is) what I want to project to people (which) I just can't do without singing my songs. In life, I can always think of the right thing to say but never at the right time. And that's why I like writing songs, because you have as much time as you want to get out what you want to say."

"This is the closest I feel to what is really me," agrees Talbert. "This is what I feel like I was meant to do. I don't, by any means, think that I'm the best at it, but I think that I do it as well as I possibly can, because that's all you can do with anything."

And that's what makes Norust -- who recently recorded a new, soon-to-be-released EP at Mind Ignition Studios near Dayton -- a band to watch. They might be young and new, but they have a lot of heart and idealism that comes through in their music. It's refreshing to hear a band with a soul in the plastic cacophony of today's Pop stars.

NORUST has sound clips and more info on the band on their pages at and
- CityBeat - April 21, 2004

"Rock Fight!"

Rock Fight!
By Kristen Lane
Published: Wednesday, March 24, 2004

The second installment of The Battle of the Bands rocked Regents Hall on March 16. This year's battle showcased nine talented local bands, but only one would receive the $500 first prize.


The first band to perform was Norust. It seemed each of their songs flowed seamlessly from one to another, and the band's interaction within itself and with the crowd was unforced. Their song selection ranged from heavy to mellow, allowing the audience to see their versatility and talent.


The top three bands from the battle were announced.

Coming in third was One Breath Below, in second Track West and the 2004 Battle of the Band champions were Norust.
- The Northerner (Northern Kentucky University)


Coaltrain EP 2006
Multiple Live Demos



Norust has something that garage bands seemingly strive for.
In the name of rock ‘n’ roll and unremitting friendship, Jake Lillenstein (vocals, guitar), Travis Talbert (lead guitar, harmonica), Nick Vogelpohl (bass), and Nathan Wagner (drums) continue to prove that Norust offers an addicting sound to music mavens within and beyond the Cincinnati borders.
Formed in 2004, this quartet of 20-somethings, which effects a modern-rock edge and draws influences from bands circa 1960s to present, has definitely established a sound of its own.
Aside from live shows filled with emotion and honesty (and some rather original takes on chart-topping songs), its latest self-released, four-song EP, Coal Train, is a first-rate source of the band’s chemistry – and the ability to execute well-crafted, guitar-driven rock.
Whether it’s a precise, wailing solo coming from Talbert’s Stratocaster or Lillenstein’s soulful, devil-may-care vocals, Norust undeniably makes its mark in the local music scene.
And wherever the band takes its music next, it’s bound to do the same.

Norust released it's Coal Train EP in July 2006 and has much more on the way.