ORLANDO – When Anthony Flamand was in middle school, he wanted to be seen as loud, raucous – bad.
In a musical sense, anyway. What he got from that, ultimately, is he decided he had No Value.
It started when he and best buddy Diego Millares thought it would be fun and creative to form a band, which they called No Value. But from those first few sessions blasting a guitar full volume and the accompanying screams into the microphone came an end result that neither Anthony nor Diego anticipated.
Today, the band hit a new milestone as they just released their first EP, “Emotional.” They’re also in contact with some key players in the New York music scene, and Anthony can already boast about something else: a devoted following, literally thousands upon thousands, who have been so eager to hear more of their music that they frequently send Anthony gifts of appreciation.
“I’ve gotten candy,” he said. “I’ve gotten shoes. And they send me notes saying ‘You have such a huge impact on my life,’ which is so cool.”
How the two-member band went from a fun after-school activity to a respected musical duo followed by fans across the globe is an interesting story. Their success is owed to a number of key ingredients, including the passion they put into their songs, their ability to connect to others on an emotional level, and the strength of their lyrics and the moods they evoke; and, just as critically, they benefitted from the opportunities that social media offer to help the band end up in anyone’s home, anyone’s office, any place they happen to have a computer, laptop or smart phone.
On Twitter alone, more than 14,000 people follow Anthony and the latest musical offerings of No Value. He’s all too eager to accommodate their desire to keep up with the band and what they’re composing.
“I’m tweeting all the time,” he said. “Even when we’re writing music, I’ll tweet something about it.”
No Value’s meteoric rise was something Anthony hadn’t anticipated when he and Diego first decided to become metal heads. In fact, he said, that almost seems like a lifetime ago.
“No Value started as a metal band in middle school with my best friend,” Anthony recalled. “It was one of those bands that screams a lot.”
By the time they entered high school, though, their interests were shifting – in no small part, Anthony added, because they got the sense that a loud, in-your-face metal band wasn’t exactly what a lot of people were looking for, or connecting to.
“Being kids in middle school and having a name that sounded hardcore, we wanted to be ‘cruel’ kids,” he said. “But you get judged easily, especially for that kind of stuff. It wasn’t really doing it for us.”
So they made a crucial decision, and ditched those ear-shattering electric guitars.
“We decided to do acoustic,” he said. And although No Value had been chosen as the band’s name because it sounded so … well, bad, they ultimately chose to keep it, even though the outlook of their music was shifting so dramatically. In fact, their name became a significant element of the band’s entire message, the critical way they connect with followers.
As Anthony noted, their motto is “Without you, we have no value. With you, we are No Value.”
They focused on developing a unique sound, and on writing lyrics that explored the feelings, emotions and anxieties that are a part of being a teen. What they discovered, though their original compositions, is that those feelings are actually quite universal, easy for anyone, anywhere in the world, of any age, to relate to.
“There’s a lot of stuff we know is relatable to everyone,” Anthony said. “There’s a lot of different moods in our songs – there’s happy songs that people can sing to and get up and dance to, and if you’re upset about something, we’re going to leave you happy by the end of the song. We have some sad songs about what you go through when losing a loved one. We just have a bunch of moods, constantly.”
In fact, Anthony said he’s actually following a path that he started on himself, long before he and Diego put No value together: being a fan of a band whose sound changed his life.
He’d long been a big follower of Never Shout Never, the indie acoustic alternative rock band from Joplin, Missouri that has released five full-length albums and nine Eps since 2007.
“That’s our biggest motivator,” Anthony said.
What he learned from listening to, and being so deeply moved by, the band was the emotional connection to their words, their message.
“It’s the lyrics, the way they portray their songs,” he said. “If you broke down the lyrics, you could see there’s a story there.”
No Value worked hard writing, refining, and diversifying their musical portfolio. It wasn’t about sounding like someone else, but about sounding like No Value – being a unique band with a sound all their own.
And unlike the garage bands of the 1960s and 1970s that went in search of small outlets to perform in, where they could hopefully find an audience through live shows, No Value developed a following in a vastly different way, through the opportunities presented in the digital world.
“We haven’t even gotten to booking shows yet,” said Anthony, who lives with his family in the Dr. Phillips area of Greater Orlando. “We just released our music online. I started with making YouTube videos and just making people happy,” and then branched out to sites like Twitter and Vine, the site where videos and personalities enable any musician to demonstrate their talents. In addition to his 14,000 Twitter followers, Anthony has also attracted 9,000 more on Vine.
“I think it’s altogether building a following for us,” he said.
No Value can be followed on Twitter at @NoValueFL, on Facebook at Facebook.com/NoValueFl, and on YouTube by logging on to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SymDO4RASQk.
Fans can also find Anthony at Playlist Live Orlando 2016, a three-day event where online creators and their biggest supporters come together in one place to engage in a weekend of non-stop interactive activities.
It will take place on April 22-24th at the Orlando World Center Marriott, 8701 World Center Drive. Tickets for that event are available at http://www.playlist-live.com/orl.php.
“Emotional,” which will contain four songs, was released today and can be purchased online through the band’s website, www.novalueband.com. You can also download the album today at the site.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..