A Tale Of Friendship And Luck (But Not Pecs), Propelled By 'The Room'
Bands lift their names from all sorts of bizarre places — abandoned vampire movie scripts, extremely obscure characters from The Simpsons. For its part, the Kyoto-based duo of is an homage to a throwaway line from "the worst movie ever made," The Room, and a typically stilted little romantic scene between leading man Johnny (Tommy Wiseau) and his girlfriend, Lisa (Juliette Danielle):
You have nice legs.
(LISA IS TAPPING HIS SHOULDER.)
You have nice pecs.
"I always thought it was really funny because it was very awkward just watching him talk to his girlfriend saying, 'You have nice legs,'" Greg Sestero, who played Wiseau's friend Mark in the film, tells NPR Music. "To me, his gesture of his hands to his hair is pretty funny. [The line] stood out to me, as well."
Nice Legs' band name is a particularly dedicated reflection of The Room's status as a newly minted cult classic, fueled by the film's mesmerizingly deficient directing, acting and plotting. But aside from its odd tone, at its heart lies the strangely heartwarming/disturbing friendship between Johnny and Mark, which worked, in part, because of the Wiseau and Sistero's real-life friendship. Their on-screen chemistry — if you care to call it that — is now being revisited in a new two-volume film, Best F(r)iends,directed by Justin MacGregor.
When Nice Legs heard about the onscreen reunion, they sensed an opportunity.
"Basically, we saw that a new Tommy and Greg film was in production," band member Mark Lentz tells NPR Music. "Then we dug around until we found the email of the production company." From there, he lobbed an email into the abyss. For six months, nothing but radio silence. Then: "They responded out of the blue asking to work with us," he says. "We took it as a good sign they opened the email with, 'Oh hai, Mark!'"
Sestero and the producers heard a solid, dreamy fit in the music, so the film executives obliged the cheerful outfit and handed over an early cut, resulting in the galloping "Mighty Three" and the sinister "End" being featured in the trailer for the film.
"I think their voice is unique and different," Sestero says. "It goes beyond obviously liking The Room and [naming] a band after The Room. I think their songs fit in the mood of the film and I think they have a great edge to them, which helps the film. You could have a band that's called You're Tearing Me Apart or other stuff, [and] it's unusable. But, luckily for us, their songs really were the right quality."
Nice Legs' homage wasn't only to The Room's practically avant-garde awkwardness: Lentz and his collaborator Lauren E. Walker saw a bit of themselves in Wiseau and Sestero's friendship, too.
"We are also quirky weirdos living on a dream," Walker says. Lentz and Walker were born a month apart in the same Little Rock, Arkansas hospital. A patchwork series of events led the two to meet for the first time in, of all places, a DIY art space in South Korea, where they formed Nice Legs in 2014. When Lentz got a job offer, the two made good on a blood oath to keep the band together, so they relocated to Kyoto, where they now both live as roommates.
"Like Tommy and Greg's famed meeting [in a San Francisco acting class], it sort of feels like destiny brought us together," she adds. "As far as our relationship, I think it's similar to Tommy and Greg's in that we try to make up for our individual weaknesses by working together and playing on our strengths as a unit, and the chemistry of our friendship."
Best F(r)iends dives deeper into Wiseau and Sestero's unique bond, within the form of L.A. noir. The trailer — dark colors, a brooding tone, a couple scarlet lines spelling out tumultuous waters ahead — is accompanied by Nice Legs' "Mighty Three," almost surfy in its downcast guitar licks beneath both men repeating the phrase "friendship before money."
The whole situation is already, appropriately, meta as hell; it's about two guys, by said two guys, partially soundtracked (Daniel Platzman from Imagine Dragons did the official score) by two people who named their band after the very same two guys.
"I'm really glad we didn't go with Nice Pecs," Lentz says. "Now that would be strange."
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.