The Nobility
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The Nobility

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | SELF

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2007
Band Rock Indie




"NPR All Songs Considered (April 2016)"

April 12, 2016

“The Nobility create joyful, exuberant music. This whole record (Ashford Castle) is… just so joyful. I really really loved it” – Robin Hilton - NPR All Songs Considered

"The Nobility - Ashford Castle"

April 2016

It’s pretty tough to stand out in a music scene as varied and impressive as Nashville in 2016, but somehow the fours-some that make up The Nobility has managed to do just that with their third effort, Ashford Castle. The record grabs influences as varied as Jellyfish, Harry Nilsson, ELO and The Beach Boys, and mixes them into a sound that’s as infectiously catchy as it is eclectic.

The band deals heavily in tight harmonies, strong hooks and choruses that are irresistible, all backed by pianos, drums, guitars and the occasional trumpet and violin. But rather than a cluttered sound the guys have created a vibe that would make Jeff Lynne proud.

Songs like “Rollin’ in the Aisles” and “Mrs. Judy May” have a definite ‘70s FM radio feel to them, but the band can just as easily switch gears to a much more contemporary (but still catchy) sound for a song like “On the Sly.” There are a few weak spots on the record (most notably when it sounds like they are trying too hard to write an ELO song), but those moments are fleeting and are far outweighed by a song like the earworm “Alone.”

It’s only a matter of time before people finally start namechecking The Nobility when they tick off the reasons why the Nashville scene is in its prime. - Blurt Magazine

"Erik Estrada Emoji-Reviews New Music by The Nobility"

April 25th, 2016

"Smiley face and six thumbs-up emoji" - Erik Estrada (aka Ponch) - Twitter

"The Nobility - Ashford Castle"

March 2016

As much as it pains me, I’ll admit that I once thought of The Nobility as “The Features Lite” – a slightly lesser version of everyone’s favorite four piece. Having listened to Ashford Castle a multitude of times now, I can be man enough to admit that my quick pigeonholing of their sound was a callous and shortsighted call.

Having been a band for fifteen some odd years, it’s clear that the band has found their confidence and knows how to execute exactly what they do well. There’s Beach Boy level harmonies, heartbreaking melancholy ballads and undeniable pop gems peppered throughout the record. It’s actually hard to determine exactly which of those styles they excel more at.

If you haven’t dug your teeth into this record yet, fire up “On the Sly” and just try not to play it more than thrice. - We Own This Town

"Music Row Magazine"

And the Disc of the Day belongs not to one of our Big Names, but to the upstarts of The Nobility, whose album drops July 31. Buy and believe.

The Nobility used to be Jetpack, "but another band had the copyright or at least a better lawyer and so a name change occurred," it says here. The new CD, The Nobility Are Moving Up to the Mezzanine, is quite an amazing arrangement accomplishment. These are brilliantly crafted tracks with orchestrations featuring tuba, sax, French horn, cello and other textures. Think Sgt. Pepper era Beatles or mid-period Kinks and you'll have the general idea. In addition to this jaunty CD opener, check out the yummy, layered, propulsive popster "Hallelujah Chorus" or the sputtering Queen-ish "Let Me Hang Around." Beware: This is one highly addictive record.

--Robert K. Oermann - Nashville, TN

"You Set the Scene (music blog)"

In general I try to focus on information that a music fan in Los Angeles can use. So usually in the past I've always needed an LA-related excuse for a post. I tend to avoid the blogs that focus primarily on "breaking" new bands (you know the type... hey guys, check out [insert band name]. I've only heard these two songs, but I think they're great. And don't they look cool in their photo. Here are a couple of MP3s to download). But in the spirit of all those hyperbolic bloggers, here's a new band without any real LA connection.....

The Nobility [f/k/a Jetpack] are a Nashville based band with a new album, The Mezzanine, coming out on July 31st. When they were still Jetpack, they had a children's book written about them and toured libraries and grade schools across the US. Based on their photos, they look like they probably really enjoy Wes Anderson's films. I dug "Mathematics" from their first EP and thought they had a lot of potential. They realize that potential on their debut full length. The album's ambitious and nuanced, incorporating strings and horns on many of the tracks. The album starts off with two upbeat tracks "The Mezzanine" and "Halleluiah Chorus." At first you might wish all the tracks were as immediately catchy as "Halleluiah Chorus" but as you listen you begin to really appreciate the more subtle tracks. The lead singer's voice sounds a little bit like Eric Johnson from the Fruit Bats (which is another band I really like) while the band's energy reminds me a little bit of the Spinto Band.

-- - Los Angeles, CA

"All the Rage"

Power pop has been an anomaly in the rock world over the years, being a style that actually rewards imitation, celebrating the bands that can faithfully re-create the sounds of yesteryear.

A few months ago, when Nashville rock group The Nobility (formerly Jetpack UK) announced its stately new name and previewed Mezzanine track "Halleluiah Chorus" online, it suggested a band that was now fully versed in pop tradition and ready to make its own formal entry into the power-pop canon. While The Mezzanine is packed with tried-and-true rock hallmarks and a few tracks that could pass as tributes (like the Elvis Costello dead-ringer "I Refuse"), the band ironically carves its own bold identity on some of its most placid songs.

When the band bashes out tightly wound pop the results are inarguably catchy, but they also bring some of The Nobility's direct influences that much more into focus, like Costello on "Refuse" or Nashville's own The Features, whose aura hovers persistently over several of the trotting rock numbers. The hushed piano/acoustic guitar-driven "Angel's Debut," on the other hand, shows no cards, resting exclusively on the strength of leader Sean Williams' graceful melody and effortlessly swaying from piano ballad to a folk waltz as cello and French horn simmer just above the surface.

Still, even if tracks like "Angel" and plodding, cavernous closer "Worth Your While" are more distinct, that doesn't make more standard pop any less enjoyable — it's a craft the band has honed for years, and it shows. Nothing here is by the numbers. You'll hear inspired little hitches and quirks all over, and it's hard to think of another local indie rock release with either the amount or quality of brass and string arrangements found here.

All these promising pieces best find synergy in the opening title track, in which a foppish music hall intro (with tuba!) eventually meets a strutting beat and sprightly saxophones, as the band announces in tight harmonies that they're "moving up to the Mezzanine." There is, indeed, a definite sense of motion here — one of a band making big strides with a sound that appears increasingly unique as it becomes more "classic."

The Nobility celebrates the release of The Mezzanine with an in-store performance at 6 p.m. Tue., July 31, at Grimey's New and Preloved Music. Admission is free. - Nashville, TN

"Connect Savannah"

August 2007

One of the coolest pop/rock bands I’ve heard in years, this young Nashville quartet blissfully channels the twee optimism of Village Green-era Kinks and Magical Mystery-era Beatles. I can’t stop smiling when their album is on. Tremendous. Sat., 8 pm, The Sentient Bean - ALL-AGES. - Savannah, GA

"Arkansas Times"

August 2007

To say that Sean Williams and Stephen Jerkins started Jetpack with humble aspirations would be more than an understatement. “We didn't even expect to ever play anywhere with decent sound,” Williams, the band's lead singer and guitarist, said dryly in a recent phone interview.

Williams and Jerkins, who met as classmates at Harding University in Searcy (Williams is a Searcy native), had only messed around a little in living rooms and garages in Nashville when longtime friend Isaac Alexander asked them to come open up for Big Silver's CD release show in Little Rock in 2001. Thanks to Alexander's prodding, Jetpack was born onstage.

In the early days, when Jetpack was playing a steady string of gigs around Nashville, Williams says that the band knew about another act with the same name, a surf rock outfit out of California, but with Jetpack's limited ambitions they figured paths would never cross. Fast forward several years: The Nashville Scene named the pop-rockers the city's “Best Unsigned Band” in 2005; Red Eye distributed “The Art of Building a Moat,” Jetpack's 2006 EP, nationally; and the lead single off that EP, the endlessly catchy “Mathematics,” was made into a video.

Then last year, a local author asked The Nashville Scene to recommend a local rock band to profile in a children's book. The alt-weekly steered her to Jetpack. Wary of legal entanglements that might surface from that exposure, the band slapped a UK on the end of its name, a nod to its Brit-pop influences. To promote the book, the band embarked on a decidedly un-rock 'n' roll tour — five weeks of shows in public libraries across the country.

As the band readied its latest full-length, “The Mezzanine,” it decided to bite the bullet and deal with the name issue. Taken from a lyric in the new album's title track (“I was born into nobility, but I squandered my riches in champagne and wine”), Nobility replaced Jetpack UK.

The change could be at just the right time. The band usually plays to full houses in Nashville; it's easily one of the city's most popular acts, and, behind the strength of “The Mezzanine,” it seems poised to break nationally. The album rests firmly on a foundation of “Village Green”-era Kinks, early Paul McCartney solo material and Elvis Costello. But the band breaks some new ground, playing with tempo and adding orchestral touches — a stuttering tuba in the title track, violin, saxophone, flute and French horn elsewhere. Still, it's Williams' ability to craft a ridiculously infectious hook that truly sets the band apart. Try “Halleluiah Chorus,” the album's lead single, with its triumphant chorus of “ohs,” and it'll be stuck in your head for weeks. - Little Rock, AR

"Your Standard Life (music blog)"

July 2007

The Nobility, a humble little rock band based in Nashville, TN releases their full-length album The Mezzanine July 31, 2007. These are some great tracks and i cannot wait to hear the full-length. Trust me, you'll be singing along to Halleluiah Chorus on your first listen.

The Nobility will make a stop in St. Louis at Lemmons on Aug. 18. Don't be lame, come out to the show. All the cool kids will be there eating pizza and rockin out. - St. Louis, MO

"Nashville Scene"

Just Like Starting Over
What’s in a name (change)?
by Tracy Moore

It’s tough to imagine the honor of world’s first heavy metal band—you know, the one who gave us “Black Dog” and “Stairway to Heaven”—going to The New Yardbirds. And if it weren’t for the iron hand of the music industry, we might have suffered through 18 weeks in 1998 listening to the megahit “Iris” by a little band called The Sex Maggots. If it weren’t for pesky copyright issues, “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” would have come to us courtesy of the scuzzy stoner rock of Gamma Ray. And were it not for plain old artistic whimsy, the widely praised rock opera American Idiot would have been signed sealed and delivered to us by Sweet Children. Instead we have Led Zeppelin, Goo Goo Dolls, Queens of the Stone Age and Green Day, and as arbitrarily as those names were conceived, it’s difficult to imagine things any other way.

Tell it to Jetpack UK and Thornton, two local bands who’ve just taken on the risky proposition of changing their names—to The Nobility and Your Operator, respectively—some six years into their careers. But is it really such a risky proposition after all?

For the ’60s pop-rock leaning Jetpack UK, keeping the name was riskier. Three months after forming in 2001, they were made aware by their lawyer of the existence of another Jetpack, but were advised not to worry about it. Reps for the California surf-rock artist named Dan Standiford (who, like the local Jetpack, also assumes the band name as his first name) made contact soon after, with proof he’d been using the name since the ’80s. But it wasn’t until the local act decided to tour outside their hometown and release The Art of Building a Moat a few years later that things turned problematic. Soon both artists’ CDs began showing up under one name on sites such as Amazon and CD Baby.

“One time I was at Grimey’s,” singer and guitarist Sean Williams says. “And I asked Jonathan Rogers if they had the Jetpack album. And he was like, ‘Yeah is it called Planet Reverb?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, this isn’t good.’ ”

For Thornton—the Baptist hymnals-meets-cabaret-pop act whose ID is drawn from the surname of singer and pianist Kevin Thornton—the name change to Your Operator, also the band’s new single, was simply a reflection of their evolution from “sleepy art band” to a “bigger rock band sound.”

“We’ve toured our asses off under the name Thornton,” Thornton says. “We did an expensive radio campaign under that name. There are people in France with Thornton on their iPods…. But flash forward six years, and I’ve found myself with that dream chemistry/musical soul-mate/BFF stuff you read about in band biographies. Really, this has not been my solo project for a very long time.”

Meanwhile, Jetpack had just secured distribution through Heatstroke Records and were embarking on a library tour in support of a children’s book—Inside a Rock Band—written about their experience as young band, as legal pressures mounted. The addition of UK to the band’s moniker was a Band-Aid to buy them some time. But now, with the new album The Mezzanine set for release in July and a management deal with Aaron Hartley, who runs local indie label Theory 8, the band felt it was time to get rid of the legal hassles.

“We’ve played for a lot of kids—a lot of people everywhere from Massachusetts to Austin,” says Jetpack UK drummer Brian Fuzzell. “What if so-and-so in Connecticut liked our CD a lot and can’t find us?” “But this isn’t like Aerosmith changing their name,” adds Williams. “We’re not this money-making entity where everyone’s going to be devastated.”

For both acts, it’s an invigorating fresh start. Thornton says becoming Your Operator has made the band “feel like dreamers again.” “People seem to like the name and the new direction,” says Thornton. “Also, I think it might up T-shirt sales. Who wants to wear a T-shirt with my name on it? I’m an egomaniac and I thought it was a little weird.” For The Nobility, the name change also allows them to shed previous musical missteps. The new record finds the band using horns and flutes to flesh out their sound, with guitarist Stephen Jerkins playing keys rather than riffs. (Bassist David Dewese has departed amicably to pursue his own songwriting.)

But despite both bands’ hard work in establishing their prior monikers, thanks to the Internet age, getting the word out hasn’t been all that difficult. MySpace, for instance, allows you to simply switch the band name in the URL and keep all your hard-earned friends. A few bulletins and emails, and the past is band history. What’s more difficult is winning back old converts.

“What about ’em?” Williams says with a laugh when asked about former fans. “No, I think they’ll be understanding,” Jerkins interjects. “We have a lot of nice fans. Well, there might be some kindergartners out there who are upset about it.” - Nashville, TN

"All Music Guide blog"

October 2007
CMJ Crush Band: The Nobility
October 18th, 2007

It’s all in the details for Nashville’s the Nobility. Exuberant Of Montreal-esque indie-pop/rock — though with more tender and organic moments than Kevin Barnes tends to indulge in. Alternately pretty and aggressively gritty, the Nobility’s teeter-tottering sound is always anchored in the fine vocals of lead noble Sean Williams. Going back through their catalog (starting with their work under the name Jetpack UK), you can see the influences move from surf to quirk… finally emerging as the smartly arranged fun-pop displayed on their latest offering, The Mezzanine.

When and where they’re scheduled to play: Friday, Oct. 19 at Pianos. -

"The Big Takeover"

October 2007

Formerly Jetpack, the band’s former handle when critics dubbed them Weezer lite, the newly-christened Nobility’s Sean Williams has ingested tons of mid-period Kinks and solo McCartney, regurgitating the best bits in a way that progresses rather than replicates — screaming rockers (“Skeleton Key”, “Riverboat”), ballads (“Angel’s Debut”), and power pop (“I Refuse”) sound familiar yet new. “Halleluiah Chorus”, the centerpiece and single-to-be, nicks the melodies of “Rocky Top” and “I Fought the Law”, morphing into the best crazed Viking anthem since Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”. - The Big Takeover

"The Red and Black"

October 2007

Nashville band boasts 'clever, quirky lyrics'

Many bands boast Grammys, platinum records and million-dollar endorsement deals - but what about immortalization in children's books?

"Smart pop" band The Nobility has that market covered.

The Nashville-based group may seem like an unlikely subject for third-grade non-fiction but is nonetheless featured in "Inside a Rock Band," part of a children's book series about unique professions.

"They have one about baby sitters, dolphin trainers and what it's like to be in a non-famous rock 'n' roll band," said Sean Williams, the band's lead singer and songwriter.

The author of the series happened to live in Nashville and contacted a local paper to find a band to feature. She was directed to The Nobility.

"It's one of the weirdest things that's ever happened to me," Williams said. "There's even a glossary that tells you what a 'gig' is."

The book inspired the band to kick off a five-week tour of libraries across the nation.

"We played the exact same show we play at clubs," Williams said. "We had a lot of people come to our shows who have never been in that type of environment."

The Nobility tirelessly has been promoting itself on the road, completing four national tours in 2006.

"We have the willingness to be poor and remain poor," Williams said. "We buckled down and thought that we got this music and we need to let people know about it somehow - even if we need to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for an entire month."

Luckily, the music has been worth the dietary sacrifice.

Fueled by Beatles-esque hooks and clever, quirky lyrics, the band hearkens to an earlier age of rock 'n' roll.

To achieve an "organic" sound, the band recorded its latest album, "The Mezzanine," on 1970s analog tape.

"We didn't want it too crisp - we want the sound to bleed," Williams said. "We want to make our music seem like its coming from us and not machines."

The end result is an infectious blend of head-bopping melodies and feel-good, contemplative lyrics.

"I wanted the album to have a positive vibe, to be about new perspectives and things starting anew," Williams said.

The crown jewel of the album is the title track, "The Mezzanine."

"It's a metaphor," he said. "If you were to go to a play, you would think that you'd want as close a seat as possible. But in actuality, if you go farther away into the mezzanine or what might be perceived as the worst seat, you actually have a better view."

For Williams, it's the perfect song to play on those days when you feel like the world is using you as a punching bag.

"It's about embracing the fact that you've been knocked back in life," he said. "It may not be ideal, but it's going to open your mind." - Univ. of Georgia newspaper


Ashford Castle - LP (2016)

The Secret of Blennerhassett Island - LP (October 2011)

I've Got a Present For You - EP (November 2010)

Gentle Giant - EP (August 2009)

The Mezzanine - LP (July 2007)



The Nobility is a DIY-everything rock band from Nashville, TN. Easily the 53rd-best band in town.

“The Nobility create joyful, exuberant music. This whole record (Ashford Castle) is… just so joyful. I really, really loved it” – Robin Hilton on NPR'S ALL SONGS CONSIDERED (April 12, 2016)


On April 13, 2001 in Little Rock, Arkansas, a band called Jetpack (which, a few years and personnel changes later, became The Nobility) played their first show in front of human beings. Musical pundits and scholars alike have pointed to this performance as one of the worst in audiological history. 

Nevertheless, the band marched onward and upward stumbling upon little nuggets of rock and roll wisdom that seemed to pave the way to brighter days - things like periodic rehearsals and more to the point, periodic rehearsals that included microphones so that all band members knew what song was being played at any given moment.

In the years since, they've taken the things they've learned and spun them into multiple EPs, full-length albums and tours around the country. They've also had the pleasure of being the subject of a children's book (which parlayed into a tour of full volume rock shows inside public libraries), as well as having a song featured in a really terrible Meg Ryan movie that spent two weeks in theaters before Plinko-ing it's way down to the Lifetime Network rotation.

Ashford Castle marks The Nobility’s third full-length effort. Its songs bounce back and forth between keyboard-driven pop that would cause Steve Nieve to beam with pride and a cappella numbers that would make your great-grandmother do the same. Using an old reel-to-reel eight track machine, the band has taken the three-minute pop framework that has defined their previous releases and further trimmed the bonsai leaves, leaving the listener with sing-along-worthy tunes that will feel right at home on your next road trip. The Nobility— the fiesty little do-it-yourselfers they are—got a little help from their friends to make this record. Sparked by many generous donations from the community they’ve cultivated over the years, their Kickstarter campaign in October of 2014 raised over $10,000, allowing the band to tap the talents of esteemed mixing engineer Nathan Sabatino (Dr. Dog/Flaming Lips) and book an extra studio day with their harmony heroes The Secret Sisters (featured on a song which will be released on the B-side to a forthcoming 7" vinyl single)



Band Members