Every scene has its leaders, bands and promoters rising to the challenge of moving the scene forward. Despite his awkward appearance, Nathaniel “Gnat Decay” Wolos is one of those leaders — lead singer, industrious button maker, photographer, videographer, podcaster.
The gangly 19-year-old has quite a bit of punk rock experience under his belt. After swearing off P.O.D. and rap-metal in middle school, young Wolos’ eyes were opened to punk rock. “None More Black was my first punk band,” Wolos says. “It was a combination of None More Black, Rancid and the Distillers that got me hooked.” With Wolos, listening to None More Black’s File Under Black and Rancid’s … and Out Come the Wolves over and over led to a desire to make music of his own. “After listening to punk for a few years I decided that I wanted to start a band.”
Eventually, Wolos assembled a group of friends to form The Five Second Cummings or, as their loving fans called them, the VSC. The VSC chugged on for nearly two years and amassed a respectable fan base. After releasing an album (Attack of the Middle Class Mutants on Piradical Records) and an EP (the phenomenal Stuck in My Brain, also on Piradical), the VSC split up. “Our drummer was moving to Mexico and everyone else was going off to school. It was a mutual breakup.”
Despite their relatively short existence, the VSC became an anchor for the all-ages punk and hardcore scene in the city. Playing mostly at The Underground at the Harrison Center, the VSC would draw up to 100 angry, young punkers to each of their shows, a feat most local bands can’t claim.
While serving his term as “Vocal Destroyer” for the VSC, Wolos stumbled upon the wonderful world of button-making. “I really wanted to buy a Wii, but they were so hard to find, so I used my Wii money to buy a $300 button maker so I could make buttons for VSC.”
This simple twist of fate has become a big deal for the scrawny Wolos. He launched a company and Web site called Decaying Youth (www.decayingyouth.com) to start branching out and making more buttons for other local bands. What started out as just a way for other bands in the punk scene to get buttons easily made has developed into a nationwide endeavor.
“I’ve made buttons for about 100 different bands from all over the country,” he said. “I do them all by hand, so when I get big orders I always get calluses and hand-cramps.” His unique (but time-consuming) strategy of placing a “DecayingYouth.com” sticker on the back of each button has helped spread the Decaying Youth name throughout the region. The advertising ploy has more than paid off for Wolos. He’s been employed by bands of all genres, including garage rockers Thunders and goof-punks Prizzy Prizzy Please. “It’s not really that lucrative, I don’t make that much money from the buttons,” he admitted. “It’s just something that I do.”
With the collapse of The Underground at the Harrison Center as a hub for all-ages music, the future of the scene seemed a bit hazy. “The scene was hurting pretty badly for a few months,” he said. “We had no idea where we would do shows. The Underground was a good venue but it had a lot of problems. The location was centralized, but there was nothing around it except for IHOP and a gay bar. The Central Space [6151 Central Ave.] is great because it’s in the middle of Broad Ripple and the shows will be a part of the Broad Ripple scene now. It’s really cool.”
With a new venue established, Wolos has also started working on a new band, Agar Agar, named after his favorite plant protein in high school biology.