NYU’s The Misters Explore ‘Complicated People’


Photograph courtesy of Sabrina Santiago

Steinhardt junior Michael Nitting fronts The Misters, keeping its core energy and quirks alive and true throughout frequent lineup changes and personal growth.

Hailey Nuthals, Arts Editor

If ever there were an apt name for a debut EP, The Misters’ “Complicated People” hit the nail on the head. After three years and as many lineups, the group of both NYU students and New York musicians is releasing its first body of work this Thursday, March 9. The band was born in Steinhardt junior, frontman and lyricist Michael Nitting’s dorm room in Third North Residence Hall during his freshman year with friends and Steinhardt juniors Greg Jakubik, Noah Hadland and Sebastian Zel. These days, Nitting is the last remaining member of the original lineup, joined by Steinhardt freshman Todd Martin, Steinhardt junior Jim White and Chris Rivera.

The lads were quickly able to book shows throughout New York’s boroughs, playing everywhere from TKTK sessions with WSN to Halloween costume parties at the Bushwick Public House. Their charisma and energy were unstoppable. Despite the fact that the band is now on its third separate lineup of members, the last remaining original member and core of the group Michael Nitting said that The Misters have been able to keep their essential sound coherent throughout external changes.

“It’s been sort of interesting to see how the sound has shaped through three different lineups — from the original one to the second one to what we are currently,” Nitting said. “Predominantly, it’s the same music that we’re playing. They’re playing the same notes, just in their own peculiar styles.”

The Misters’ EP is a compilation of songs that Nitting has written over the past five years. “Trip,” their first official single, was written during Nitting’s senior year of high school, but their latest single “GSP” was penned last spring. Although there might seem to be little connection between such chronologically disparate songs, Nitting said that the EP was essentially an exploration of its title within the context of his own life.

“It’s sort of my realization that I myself am a complicated person, which sort of took me a little while to recognize,” said Nitting. “But also, each song is pretty heavily associated with one or two complicated people that I’ve interacted with in my life.”

Part of the complexity for Nitting is merely existing as a musician within New York and NYU, specifically. In such a huge city known for its thriving music scene, he noted that it’s easy to become intimidated by the prospects of becoming more than just a guitar on a stage in front of an audience of other nobodies.

I can get very overwhelmed by the accomplishments of the people that I’m friends with, or just see people that are making it or just about to break the cusp,” Nitting said. “It’s frustrating, because we’re always wondering what’s the equation to get big or get signed and get your music out to as many people as possible and I have to constantly remind myself that there isn’t an equation. And that can be really hard. Everyone has a specific experience, so I’m just trying to figure out what ours is.”

Keeping their experience coherent has also been heavy on The Misters’ minds. In an era where a band without social media isn’t a band at all and one viral post can ruin a career, crafting a brand is an excruciating task for musicians. Nitting, who has taken lessons both from his classes in his Music Business program in Steinhardt and from life at large, mentioned how carefully the band has been creating its image.

“When it comes to the content we’re putting out, and the publications that we’re choosing to work with, and stuff like that, I think it all plays into the image,” Nitting said. “I’m always having conversations with Ben [Locke, Steinhardt junior], who’s helping The Misters and sort of managing us, with Ben and Greg, about ‘Would this look cool?’ Or not even cool, ‘Would this look good? Would this fit us?’”

From the band’s first Instagram image to the outfits the members wear on stage, it’s all an act — though not a complete caricature of themselves. Nitting admitted that it’s more of a blown-up personality; closer to what he used to do as an actor in musical theater in high school than a whole new persona. The Misters have allowed him to prove to himself that he wants to pursue music professionally. As for whether that career will be with The Misters or another band, he stayed optimistically practical.

“I would love for The Misters to stay around, but living in New York, I realized that I have no idea what the plan is,” Nitting said. “The plan right now is to stay in this group, but god knows what will happen. But [The] Misters right now, for sure. And for as long as they can stay together.”

The Misters’ “Complicated People” will be released on Thursday, March 9 and will host a release show at Goldsounds at 44 Wilson Ave. in Brooklyn. Stream their music on SoundCloud or Spotify, and download it on BandCamp.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 6 print edition. 

Email Hailey Nuthals at [email protected]