Via Jazz Hodges

UK Punk Band Bad Nerves Are Ready to Shake the Scene Up

UK’s Bad Nerves want to shake things up – and shake things up they will. Actually, it is already what they are doing in this dull, formulaic, and predictive music scene. The punk rock outfit are bringing back the ethos we all miss: the CBGB’s underground rock spirit, the Ramones-era nostalgic punk scene we crave, and the edgy garage band we want. Their songs are reminiscent of the 1970s and singer Bobby Nerves’ shrill, piercing vocals complement Will Power, Jon Poulton, Sam Thompson, and George Berry immaculately. They are, and this is, Bad Nerves. 

Bobby Nerves has everything that it takes to become the rock icon we all need right now. His voice, his style, and his swagger is what the industry is missing at the moment, aside from a few in the vein of Luke Spiller from The Struts and Amy Taylor of Amyl and the Sniffers. Rock music is out of the mainstream focus and Bad Nerves are working hard to shift it back to front and center – where it belongs. Sharp punk sounds laced into stripped down rock stylings prove that Bad Nerves is ready to rock the establishment. Fingers crossed they make a huge splash from across the pond because this band is switching things up release after release. (There’s a reason bands like Green Day adore them and they’re often compared to The Strokes – they rock.)

The Aquarian’s Robert Frezza sat down with lead singer Bobby Nerves and bassist Jon Poulton to talk about the pressure of making their sophomore album, what punk rock means to them, and when we can hope to see them here in the States. 

It seems like rock music wants to make a comeback here in the States but never fully comes to fruition.

Bobby Nerves: There’s Ty Segall and Ohsees. There’s a lot of older bands we listen to like Negative Approach. In terms of the rock scene over in the States, there are just probably a lot of bands I have never heard of that are pretty sick. 

Generally, though, punk and rock seem to [have] all the best bands that are really hard to find. The bands that don’t have these large followings, the bands that you don’t hear on the radio and are not playing these big shows? Them. Everything else that is readily available or in the mainstream seems to be a lot of shit for the most part. I feel rock and punk has to have some sort of revival. I feel that it’s coming. That is the essence of that anger and to create that protest music. We need rock and roll now more than ever. I hope it will make a comeback. Real rock music is a ‘fuck you’ to the powers that be. People can really go oh-so-far until they had enough of hearing pop music. 

There’s IDLES and Fontaines D.C. here in the U.K., but that’s about it. The UK seems to pick a couple of the bands that they love and the rest kind of get left behind. Hopefully that will change and more rock bands come through. Turnstile is a wicked band in the States. They are a really cool band that I’d like to see live. The Marked Men and Radioactivity are some bands I like from the States, as well. Radioactivity from Texas is lo-fi, distorted, feel-good pop that has the adrenaline because of the speed of their sound. They have an big underground following like the Nerves – we love them, as well.

It feels like if you don’t have a large social media following, it’s like you’re not a real band. It feels like Bad Nerves have a lot more listeners than social media followers. The major record labels are a major business, though, [and] it’s all about celebrity culture right now, as well.

How’d the band come together?

BN: Me and Jon played in other projects. We played in metal bands. We weren’t in bands that we truly enjoyed. The novelty wore off quickly. We got together and wrote every week. Once we got a bunch of songs together we wanted to play live, we decided that it was too much fun to not play live. We listened to a lot of old American punk bands. We put together our first record and released it in 2020.

The band didn’t play the States yet?

BN: No, but we are planning on changing that next year. There are a lot of hoops to jump through. It’s mainly a financial thing. It’s expensive to tour without major label backing. If we can afford it and break even, we would do it. If we can just get in enough people’s ears over in America, that will be our home. The UK has a scene of people that like our music, but people in America might appreciate this music more. We did a headline tour here in Europe. That was awesome. 

Jon Poulton: We didn’t have the connections and we didn’t have the money. We are desperate to come though. Next year is our year.

The band is recording a new album as we speak. Can you tell The Aquarian more about it? Did you feel any pressure making it?

BN: We want it to be recorded and done. We really don’t want to put something out until the five of us love every single song. There’s a lot more of expectation. We want to it to slap even harder and have more punk in places.

JP: It’s been written. We always said that we don’t want to have fillers. The second album is always more difficult especially if people love the first one. You will always have the uphill battle of that, but you can’t rush the process of it. You try not to feel the pressure, but there is always regardless. We are definitely not going to slow down. In the past year alone, we managed to meet some of our heroes – like Green Day who said they had mind blowing experiences with our first record. So, they definitely will hear the next record!

BN: We record with our producer Mike Curtis who has a recording studio outside of England. We have been very close friends with him for years. We wanted something with a modern punch and a DIY sound. It’s difficult to get that aesthetic. I worked closely with him for the mixing process. The secret ingredient is friendship. We already know what we wanted our songs and structure to sound like. 

Bobby, you have such a great voice. Did you have a lot of practice?

BN: I always sang as a kid. When we started the band, I didn’t want to sound like a British twerp. I wanted to find a sound that I liked. The sound is kind of nasily. To get that tone, you have to kind of sing the wrong way. You have to hit these high notes. If you don’t to sound anything like the record when you are live, it’s sort of disappointing.

JP: It is a learning process. I’ve seen him get better at it. When we used to tour early on, he used to lose his voice and struggle with it. Now we’ve been touring for a couple of weeks straight and he’s been fine. 

What is the new song “Alright” about?

BN: It has a double meaning, but that’s personal to me. It’s about a feeling. I’ll try to word it so that other people can relate because I think that people can feel their own story in the story that I’m telling. I think that’s a big part of music and connecting to somebody. “Alright” is kind of looking on the bright side when you are faced with bad news, especially with everything that happened in the last two years with the pandemic.

JP: We have a lot of people can come up to us at gigs and tells us that means a lot to them. 

BN: If you can help someone with a song or brighten up their day, I think that’s pretty cool.