In a perfect world, the Nice Boys wouldn't exist, and the fact that they do is a triumph of the D.I.Y. punk spirit in the face of almost inconceivable tragedy. The roots of the Nice Boys lie in the Exploding Hearts, a young power pop band from Portland, OR. Formed in the early 2000s but spiritually influenced by the late-'70s British power pop scene of the Buzzcocks and the Jam, the Exploding Hearts released an extremely promising debut album, Guitar Romantic, on Dirtnap Records in the spring of 2003. Sadly, while touring in support of the album, the Exploding Hearts' van rolled on Interstate 5 outside of Eugene, OR, on July 20, 2003, killing singer Adam Cox, bassist Matt Fitzgerald, and drummer Jeremy Gage.
The sole surviving member of the Exploding Hearts, guitarist Terry Six, spent quite some time convalescing before beginning his next project. Joining with guitarist Gabe Lageson and bassist Colin Jarrell, both formerly of a minor Portland power pop act called the Riffs, Six formed the Nice Boys in late 2004, largely abandoning the punky side of the Exploding Hearts in favor of a jangly, harmony-rich take on '70s Anglocentric power pop (think of the Records, the Motors, and the Yachts), with the three members dividing the songwriting about equally. With Six temporarily doubling on lead guitar and drums and taking the lead vocal role, the trio recorded the 2005 single "You Won't See Me Anymore" b/w "Lipstick Love," releasing it on the small Portland indie Discourage Records in the spring of 2004. Adding drummer Alan Mansfield and the studio-only keyboardist Brian Lelko, the Nice Boys released their self-titled debut album on Birdman Records in August 2006. ~ Stewart Mason