In the style
No Town Gents
In a scene that resembles a family reunion more than it does an interview, the six men of No Town Gents crowd around a single table in a Starbucks. Over the course of an hour, the band members split their time evenly between talking about their band and making fun of their rhythm guitarist, Neil Gonzalo.
“I’m the songwriter—that’s why they haven’t kicked me out of the band yet,” joked Gonzalo. “After this, I’m going solo.”
Aside from Gonzalo, No Town Gents is composed of Jerick Image on keyboard, Kristian Ramiro on bass, Ralph Revilleza on saxophone, Marley Reyes on guitar and lead vocals, and a very self-assured drummer who insists on being known only as King.
Even with the size of the group, the sense of brotherhood surrounding them is palpable. It’s this closeness that has encouraged the original lineup to be maintained since the establishment of No Town Gents in 2012.
“It’s more than making music or just sharing music with the people who listen to us,” said King. “We share what we have with each other. We’re all connected in a very deep way.”
The sound of No Town Gents blends contemporary R&B vocals, rock guitar riffs, funk rhythms, and smooth keyboard and saxophone accents. The end product has a jazz-heavy, neo-soul vibe mixed with a little K-pop.
No Town Gents’ expansive array of influences runs the gamut of musical acts and account for the diversity in their style, pulling inspirations from groups like funk/soul band Tower of Power to Filipino rock band Eraserheads, and local artists like The Mark Sexton Band and Jeff Bernat.
The ability to effortlessly meld together so many different genres stems mainly from the group’s collective musical knowledge, but also from their cultural influences as well.
“I think Marley’s skill comes from his background growing up in the Philippines, because he can hear things and translate them so well to guitar,” said Revilleza. “There’s a word that we use in the Philippines, uido. It means playing by ear. … It lets him play however he wants to play.”
Along with original music, No Town Gents also works extensively with covers, arranging them in a musical language that speaks to their fusion of styles.
“We enjoy all the songs we cover, so we each have a relationship with the song,” said Ramiro. “Then we can add our own style. We don’t want to play them exactly the same as what you’d hear on the radio or MTV. We want to make a new experience for the audience.”
As a sextet, No Town Gents had a modest beginning, playing together first in their church, Immaculate Conception, then at weddings and parties. But over time, the group has branched out by booking more local shows and working on an upcoming EP.
The desire to connect with the audience propels No Town Gents.
“My best memory was when we performed at Singer Social Club, and the crowd were dancing and singing along with the music,” said Image. “Having a great interaction with the crowd is one of the reasons why we do what we do.”
Making a break into a town as a neo-soul and R&B group without a lot of precedence for it has presented some difficulties. But the men attribute their success so far to their uniqueness and musical malleability.
“There’s not a lot of neo soul in Reno, so that’s what No Town Gents brings,” said King. “But at the same time, we don’t want to compartmentalize ourselves to a genre. Reno is expanding, but it’s still a rock town. We just want to be a part of the scene.”