N.E.R.D. (alternatively written as N*E*R*D) is an alternative rock, funk, and alternative hip hop band formed in 2001. Their music is best described as funk rock, with various other influences, including hip hop, R&B, soul, alternative rock, and blues. Band member Pharrell Williams explains:
“ What is a N*E*R*D? N*E*R*D stands for No-one Ever Really Dies. The Neptunes are who we are and N*E*R*D is what we do. It's our life. N*E*R*D is just a basic belief, man. People's energies are made of their souls. When you die, that energy may disperse but it isn't destroyed.[
Williams and Hugo originally recorded the band's debut album, In Search Of..., for European release in 2001 using similar digital production techniques used on Neptunes-produced records. However, they decided that if N.E.R.D was to be different from the Neptunes, it should sound different. This led to them re-recording the album (still titled In Search Of...) with the power pop band Spymob for worldwide release in 2002.
In Search Of... achieved moderate success in the U.S.: the album reached number 59 on the Billboard 200; its first single, "Lapdance", reached the top 40 on the "Modern Rap" charts; and its second single, "Rock Star", reached the top 40 of the "Modern Rock" charts in the US. "Lapdance" also went top 40 in the U.K. and Netherlands and its music video received heavy airplay on American MTV2. The album was well-received by critics even though it was not as successful as many of the Neptunes' previous productions.
The album won the second annual Shortlist Music Prize, awarded by a group of musicians, journalists, and other music professionals to the best album of the year which had sold less than 500,000 copies at the time of nomination. The band performed at the show, bragging that the week prior to the ceremony, the album had, in fact, achieved gold status by selling over 500,000 units.
A 6.1 surround mix of this album was released by DTS Entertainment on a DVD-Audio disc in 2005.
Fly or Die
The band recorded its second album Fly or Die during 2003. The band actually learned to play the tunes live, as Chad Hugo told MTV News on December 9, 2003: "We're the ones playing the instruments live this time. I just started playing guitar last year so I'm learning as we go. Pharrell's playing drums. [Last time] we didn't have time to learn certain instruments so we got Spymob to help us out."
Several of the tracks discuss issues of particular concern to adolescents, for example "Thrasher", which is about bullies and street violence; "Drill Sergeant", about rebellion and war, "Backseat Love", which talks about first love, and "Maybe" talked about a first time break up.
Fly or Die went on sale on March 22, 2004. The album has so far gone top 10 in the U.S., while the first single, "She Wants to Move", has gone top 5 in the UK, top 20 in Norway, Ireland, and Denmark, and top 40 in Australia and the Netherlands. The music videos for "She Wants to Move" and its follow up single, "Maybe", have received strong support from the digital cable network VH1 Soul in America
The third album from N.E.R.D and follow-up to 2004's Fly or Die is called Seeing Sounds. The album was released on June 10, 2008. The first single off the album, titled "Everyone Nose (All the Girls Standing in the Line for the Bathroom)", was first mentioned on their Billionaire Boys Club blog on January 22, 2008 and was confirmed at SXSW to be the first single from the album. In June 2008, the second single off the album, titled "Spaz", was used in a TV commercial for the Microsoft Zune.
In March 2008, the band performed at SXSW in Austin, Texas. While there they filmed a PSA for Rock the Vote saying why they think voting is important and the issues they care about this election year.
From April to June 2008, the band toured with Kanye West as an opening act along with Rihanna and Lupe Fiasco as part of the Glow in the Dark Tour. On June 25th, they performed in front of 40,000 people at the Isle of MTV 2008 at the Floriana granaries, Malta with free admission. On 9th of August 2008, the band played at the Way Out West music festival held in the city park of Gothemburg, Sweden. On 2nd of September 2008, N.E.R.D. performed to a sold-out crowd at the House of Blues in Chicago, and brought special guest Bad Brains onstage.
The second single 'Spaz' was filmed at the Brixton Academy concert on June 14 2008 at the Glow in The Dark Concert at Madison Square Garden on August 6 2008.
Pharrell Williams - lead vocals, piano/keyboards, rhythm guitar, percussion
Chad Hugo - lead guitar, piano/keyboards, saxophone, bass guitar
Shae Haley - drums, percussion, backing vocals