NDE Rad Jams and Good Vibes: Building a Community

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NDE Rad Jams and Good Vibes: Building a Community

The most recent NDE Rad Jams & Good Vibes logo.

The most recent NDE Rad Jams & Good Vibes logo.

The most recent NDE Rad Jams & Good Vibes logo.

The most recent NDE Rad Jams & Good Vibes logo.

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About a hundred heads gather in a small, hot venue. It is the basement of a building in Montclair, New Jersey, that houses a fancy French restaurant on the first floor and apartments above that. There is no sign that tells people they have arrived at The Meatlocker—just a small sign with a down arrow that says “basement.”

A dark, dank room with black walls covered in graffiti, the Meatlocker is an important venue for emo bands and bands of other genres. Here, bands from all over the country and their fans come to hear and play music. Lyrics pour from the vocalist and from the people watching. They have all gathered here because of one group on Facebook that has completely taken over the world of DIY music: NDE Rad Jams and Good Vibes.

Members of NDE experience new avenues into music they had never known; a world of music based on friendship, respect, and complete love for the style of emo, indie rock, punk rock, and other music genres.

BIRTH THROUGH REVIVAL

NDE was formed by Craig Lindholm. A fan of the emo music genre and an active member of the scene since the 90s, Lindholm saw the emo revival happening right before his eyes.

Craig Lindholm is the founder of all of the NDE groups and NDE Records.

Craig Lindholm is the founder of all of the NDE groups and NDE Records.

This revival happened because new bands of the same style wanted to continue the legacy of bands like American Football, Sunny Day Real Estate, and Braid—bands that created a whole new image for what music can mean for its fans. New bands continued to be influenced by these bands and their relationship to their fans, and took it to a whole other level through online interactions with their fans.

NDE was established in the wake of this revival. The group was initially meant to be a community where fans of emo music would share their love of the genre through posting their favorite music, getting to know other group members through the love of mutual bands, and self-promoting their personal bands to gain a larger audience.

The reasons for joining this community of emo lovers is the same for most members: to have a creative outlet for their favorite music. Because not everybody likes the same type of music, and people often live in places where their tastes in music are not popular among their peers, online groups like NDE provide a forum for like-minded people to get together and share their views.

“I joined NDE in January 2015. At the time, I was in a band (PINE) and we had just released our first EP and were looking on the internet for somewhere to share it with people and make new friends and network,” said Christina Leigh, an admin of NDE “After going through a few groups, where people were sort of rude, we found NDE and I, personally, became really close with people in the group and got involved.”

Like PINE, members of the emo revival scenes in more popular bands such as The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, Oso Oso, and The Island of Misfit Toys are a part of the group.

IT STARTED AS A JOKE

The top of the NDE Rad Jams & Good Vibes group page.

The top of the NDE Rad Jams & Good Vibes group page.

NDE was founded by Lindholm, an emo enthusiast, under the moniker Non-Denominational Emo. This group was loosely formed in response to the defunct Facebook group Twinkle Daddies, which was a group that expressed their love for twinkly guitar and bass in the emo music genre. Twinkle Daddies was to many the same sort of safe haven that NDE eventually became, but as it grew, many members would lash out at other members for conflicting taste in music. The negativity in Twinkle Daddies lay in the fact that people had little respect for each other’s taste in music. It got to the point where there were only a few bands one could post about without getting mocked or questioned about it.

“Totally, its [Twinkle Daddies’] flaws were what made NDE so great,” said Justin McCollum, an active member of the group.

For some, NDE has changed their outlook on music, and the group has become one of the best parts of their daily lives.

“I used to just listen to music but now I find myself sitting down and listening to records front to back and being able to discuss that with others,” said NDE group member Darby Major, “and it has grown my love for music tremendously.”

“Musically NDE has been great for feedback on various projects and also has been a big influence on the music I make,” said Mike Zilvetti, another group member. “I have found a lot of great bands through NDE that I never would’ve found without it.”

NDE was originally a joke group that Lindholm created because he did not enjoy the negativity coming from other groups such as Twinkle Daddies and US Emo. Though these groups thrived and had thousands of members, a lot of people like Craig sought out more “positive vibes.”

NDE was just the place for these positive vibes, where people could explore all forms of emo. As the group progressed and gained a following, the format and the name changed from Non-Denominational Emo, a group for emo lovers to NDE Rad Jams and Good Vibes, a group for music lovers of all styles and genres.

“. . . the scene (online) used to be a very hostile place where there were a few emo bands considered to be “good” and everything else was worthless,” said McCollum.

“I miss how, on Twinkle Daddies, people posted videos of themselves playing original guitar riffs that were often complicated and interesting. Other than that, I’m glad it was able to pave the way for NDE to be formed.  I think if Twinkle Daddies didn’t fall, NDE wouldn’t be what it is today,” said Zilvetti.

The judgmental attitude among members of Twinkle Daddies is exactly what NDE founders tried to eliminate when they formed the group.

“We didn’t want it to be exclusive to just emo, or have any other genres be less valued by the group,” said Leigh “There are also so many different kinds of emo, and there’s a lot of debate in other groups on what’s ‘real emo’ so we wanted to steer away from that judgement on what’s emo and what’s not, and to just take people’s art as what it is.”

With this change in mind, Lindholm recruited a team of admins, including Leigh. The team of admins is still ever-changing, but the they are all huge supporters of the community and are extremely devoted to NDE.

GROWTH

NDE has grown and changed a lot over the years. This growth has had both an upside and a downside.

“It’s definitely grown a lot. When I joined it was still called Non-denominational Emo, and it was about a thousand people just talking about music and stuff,” Leigh said “Now, we’re just NDE, we have several groups for different topics, and we have grown by over two thousand members. With that, it’s become a little less intimate, and there are a lot more posts that some people don’t like, but it doesn’t make the group less valuable at all.”

The group may have lost some of its intimacy among members, but the growth in membership spawned the growth of NDE Records, founder Lindholm’s record label.

NDE Records is an independent record label based off of the NDE Facebook group.

NDE Records is an independent record label based off of the NDE Facebook group.

“Craig started doing RAINN comps (short for compilation), where bands would submit music and the proceeds would go to RAINN, a charity that helps victims of sexual abuse. The comps eventually snowballed into the creation of NDE Records,” Leigh said.

A lot of people submit their music to NDE Records, so it is imperative that the interns working with Lindholm pick the very best acts to join the NDE family and release music on the label.

The first release was from a band called Mallcops. Mallcops is band that was really small when it first joined the label, but with some help from the Rad Jams and Good Vibes community, it has thrived and is still continuing to see success because of the label and the group’s dynamic.

Mallcops was the first band to release music through NDE Records.

Mallcops was the first band to release music through NDE Records.

“(NDE) helps out some solid charities like RAINN and (has) put some fantastic bands like Mallcops at the forefront of the community,” said McCollum.

“The label itself is great, it has a pretty good following and a handful of good bands signed. The label is extremely DIY and has plenty of support from the group itself. I personally would love to be involved or even signed to the label, I feel that they only put out quality material,” said Ross Greenberg, active member of NDE  “What’s great is that the group boosts all of NDE Records’ news with discussion. The label has a really good grip of getting new announcements out into the community through their own medium and out to all their followers.”

NDE Records is a good reflection of the purpose and intention of NDE: to provide the DIY music community opportunities to get their music heard.

DISPUTES AND CONTROVERSY

NDE has not always been a hub for positive vibes though. There have been some hindrances in making sure it is the most positive music community on Facebook.

There was a large feud between one of the admins of US Emo and several of the members of NDE. This spiraled into a dramatic situation, the outcome of which was Lindholm stepping down as an admin of the group. Lindholm left it up to his appointed admins to run the group because the stress of the negativity from several of the members was too much to take.

“[Lindholm stepping down] was the worst thing to happen to NDE,” McCollum said.

There was a point where many of the members felt almost that NDE had been completely liquidated, when in fact, it was still very much alive.

“Personally, I do everything in my power to avoid drama. I hate it. And being an admin is emotionally draining a lot of the time, especially when people don’t want to listen to your side of things,” said Leigh, “but I am also extremely dedicated to this community and sometimes you can’t please everyone and have to piss someone off to do what’s right for everyone else.”

Christina Leigh is one of the lead admins of NDE and a contributor to NDE Records.

Christina Leigh is one of the lead admins of NDE and a contributor to NDE Records.

Unfortunately, several people left the group as a result, but the group quickly rebounded and still feels like a home to its remaining members.

But the dispute between NDE and US Emo is not incident of negative vibes to plague the group.

Recently, a few entitled members of NDE felt the negative vibes was affecting the group immensely, and they took action to fix that by creating a new group with the original members of the group who had joined to avoid all that negative energy in the first place.

That group was called NDE Classic until recently, and it was set up as a private group where the admins were inviting original members of the Non-Denominational Emo group. Leigh, Lindholm, and a few other admins had a problem with the name because the group singled out members of NDE who were either new or gave off negative vibes every now and then.

“NDE Classic was a really weird situation. I have no issue with the group’s existence, but as someone who spends 100% of her abilities to make NDE a good place to be, I thought that having NDE in the title was a bad idea because to people who weren’t invited, it would seem like a clique of sorts and that’s something we don’t want involved with our community,” said Leigh “Also, on their team of admins, they had someone who had been banned from NDE Rad Jams and Good Vibes twice. We’re fine now that they changed the name, but it was a little bit hard to convince them that we weren’t trying to devalue their feelings towards NDE, but that it was just something that we needed to do to avoid stepping on the toes of the rest of the community.”

For members, joining NDE Classic seemed like a good way to go, until they realized also that it felt like they had sold out NDE.

When I realized I was added to the new NDE classic page I was pretty happy. The larger original NDE group seemed to lose focus on music a little and topics of discussion seemed a little pointless,” said Greenberg “NDE Classic brought back the strong music discussion that NDE had in its prime time, so I was all for it. The controversy of the group being not a real part of NDE and looked upon as a unfair “exclusive club” made me feel like I was betraying NDE a little bit. I contribute to both groups still, I just try to avoid being problematic.”

SPIN-OFFS

The group also has several other spin-off groups about other topics, some that are related to music and some that aren’t. These groups include: NDE Rad TV Shows and Terrific Movies, NDE Rad Collabs and Really Cool Covers, NDE Rad Merch Swap and Awesome Gear Talk, NDE Rad DIY Shows and Superb Tour Booking, and NDE Rad Digital Art and Equally Rad Handmade Art There are also a few groups affiliated with NDE, including NDE Drummers and a group called Rad Sauces, Dope Drinks, and Good Eats.

The purpose of these spin-offs is to expand the topics that members can discuss. Although most of these groups kept the NDE name, Rad Sauces, Dope Drinks, and Good Eats dropped it. The Because the founder of this group administers the page, the NDE admins had no problem with it not sharing the NDE name.

“Rad Sauces is a good pal Sean who made a group for food and stuff. It was his decision to take NDE out of the name, and that’s fine because it’s him running the group. I’m good friends with that guy and there are absolutely no hard feelings there,” said Leigh.

NDE’S IMPACT IN GLEN ROCK

NDE has a very large presence in high schools and Glen Rock High School is no exception. There are many high school students in the group who love emo and are extremely vocal about their love for music and the community.

NDE has helped several students in the high improve their knowledge of music, as well as expanded their talents as musicians. People like Craig Lindholm and groups like NDE give musicians a supportive and inspiring place to discuss music and are springboard for their own projects.

“I think the people in this group have a solid grasp on what it means to be a musician and are willing and able to share their knowledge with others,” said Darby Major “I am personally not in a band but I feel that I’m very active in my local music scene and I appreciate how open, honest, and respectful the NDE community is as a whole.”

“Musically, NDE has been great for feedback on various projects and also has been a big influence on the music I make,” said Mike Zilvetti, an active member of NDE from the high school “I have found a lot of great bands through NDE that I never would’ve found without it.”

Several of the bands and music including that have come out Glen Rock, including Zilvetti’s project Two Tall and Justin McCollum’s band Devon Goods, have affiliated themselves with NDE, and cited the group as an influence on their music because the group just offers so much.

A lot of members of the group are quick to help out local bands with booking shows and tours, giving advice for getting onto major streaming services, recording, tape and CD pressing, and other various forms of merch sales.

As Justin McCollum says about NDE, “It has exposed me to a ton of cool bands, helped me self promote and introduced me to many awesome people,” said McCollum “Inspired by Craig Lindholm’s charitable works, I created my own non profit label Amber Lamp Records.”

Amber Lamp Records brought together over 30 bands, most of them local, to create a compilation album and donates all proceeds to Best Answer for Cancer, an organization that provides holistic medical treatment to cancer patients. Role models such as Craig Lindholm and groups like NDE not only give musicians a supportive community, but also provides inspiration for their own projects.

The Shame Shack in Franklin Lakes, an important venue in northern New Jersey, is another hub for NDE members. Many of the bands that were featured on the Amber Lamp compilation are both NDE members and have played at the Shame Shack. A house garage, the Shame Shack provides a space where local high school students can go to hear and play live music.

Despite the challenges and conflicts that NDE has confronted over the years, there is no doubt that it plays an important role in the lives of its members by giving them a forum to learn about music, to share their interest in bands, to have their own music heard by a wide audience, and to become part of an inspiring and creative community.

“It’s insane to watch this funny little group Craig made sort-of as a joke turn into to us working with so many talented bands, and fostering a community of thousands of incredible people,” said Leigh.