INTERVIEW: Bay Area natives launch Fast Times to jumpstart rock

Fast Times, Andrew St. James, Duncan Nielsen, Cody Rhodes

Duncan Nielsen, Andrew St. James and Cody Rhodes comprise new band Fast Times.

Years of past collaborations, national tours and musical experimentation carried three friends to the start of a new journey earlier this year. The birth of Fast Times came about as Bay Area natives and veteran musicians Duncan Nielsen, Cody Rhodes and Andrew St. James joined together. Though they had different musical backgrounds, together they created something they hope will connect with fans throughout the Bay Area.

Pearl Charles, Kendra McKinley, Fast Times
8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 20
Thee Parkside
Tickets: $10-$12. (21+)

“This band is special, and I’m really hopeful for it,” Rhodes said in phone call last week.

A drummer with Fast Times, the Silicon Valley native Rhodes previously toured with synth-pop act Geographer—alongside guitarist and Morgan Hill native Nielsen. Both also played for San Francisco’s City Tribe.

It wasn’t until mid-2015 that St. James, a San Francisco native, joined the pack after meeting Nielsen at a house party, then befriending Rhodes later on.

“We had a point where Duncan and I were writing tracks together, and they were similar to things we had been doing before, playing guitar and singing harmonies,” St. James said. “And we decided, at that point, to switch it up. So we got Cody in the room, and things just started to fly.”

Nielsen, who also performs solo as Doncat, agreed that the music-making process became more complete with the third addition.

“At the beginning, Andrew and I kind of came to a giant hurdle in our process because we didn’t know how to proceed,” Nielsen said. “But adding Cody was one of the missing links. When we added Cody to the mix, everything just came naturally.”

St. James noted that the trio’s musicality is unique to the three friends as they strive to create every song in a way that doesn’t emulate someone else’s work.

“Conceptually, all of us come from different places,” St. James said. “If you’ve listened to Duncan’s records, there’s nostalgia, amazing guitar and incredible orchestration. In my records there’s a little more folk-pop. Cody’s drumming on all the records that he’s worked on is distinctively ‘Cody.’”

Fast Times wants to revive classic rock and roll while adding a modern touch. Nielsen, St. James and Rhodes also hope that their music will speak to its audience in a way that brings change to the nation. Nielsen noted that perhaps one of their songs could one day be a theme of a political campaign.

“I’d really like to bring back what the meaning of America is, at least a little bit,” Nielsen said. “Redefine American rock ‘n roll in a sense.”

The three also said that they have come to realize just how much of a joy it is to be in the music business alongside each other and simply can’t wait to see what’s next.

“This band started just as friends, and I feel like there’s an accountability and an understanding between us, where we can just be honest, and be sure to not let the other people down,” Rhodes said. “I look forward to continuing that.”

But while playing together comes easily to them, choosing a band name was the ultimate hurdle.

“It’s kind of a long, painful story,” Rhodes said. “We hadn’t even really named the band until the last show we played at The Chapel, which is Andrew’s monthly music showcase, which is called Fast Times.”

Rhodes said that, before now, they had gone back and forth on different band names, which they changed after just about every show they played.

Fast Times is eager to make a full length album in the coming months.

Follow writer Amelia Parreira at

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