For Fans Of: METZ / IDLES / Pissed Jeans
Tapping into the noise rock genre, USA Nails fuse crushing riffs with urgent speak-singing to create chaotic soundscapes. With their new album, Character Stop out next month, Steven and Gareth took a time out to chat to us about touring with METZ, the new album and the craziness leading up to it.
Words: Renette van der Merwe
Tell us a little about yourself. Where the name came from, how long you’ve been going for and anything else new fans would want to know.
Steven: We are Gareth (vocals, guitar), Dan (bass), Tom (drums) and I, Steven (vocals, guitar). We’ve been a band for ages now and are about to release our fifth record, Character Stop on 23rd October.
Gareth: We’re a noise punk band from London, we are named after a nail salon. Sometimes we get asked if we are named after the Blood Brothers song – we aren’t but we like that band a lot so don’t mind the association. We first got together in 2013, which feels like ages ago now.
Can you recall your very first memory of music?
Steven: My Dad was well into guitar music, but he often listened on headphones, these massive old Sony things. He loved Thin Lizzy but also Scott Walker, Alice Cooper yet Kate Bush, a bit all over the place I guess. Watching him listen, eyes closed, with a gatefold propped on his chest is an early memory.
Gareth: Watching Dire Straits at Live Aid on a worn out betamax I think. Did Dire Straits play Live Aid? I may have made that up if not. I took up guitar (classical) shortly after seeing that but didn’t enjoy it very much because it didn’t sound like Dire Straits.
“A must-hear punk-nasty”
London In Stereo
Your album Character Stop is out next month. How does that feel and what were some of the most challenging and most fun aspects of recording it?
Gareth: I’m really excited about it, it’s definitely our best record to date. In terms of challenging aspects, well, Steven and his wife had their first child last autumn so when we were recording last August, he was busy juggling NCT classes and various other (far more important) commitments. Also Tom broke his wrist last June we think (it was never confirmed though he did miss a call from the fracture clinic following a visit to A&E), so that limited our rehearsal time in the run up to the record. Oh also I was on tour in the US with another band (Action Beat) for the weeks leading up to recording too. Somehow I guess all the jeopardy of that fed into making it a more spontaneous and exciting record. Or maybe everyone will think it’s crap because of that? I don’t care, I’m really pleased with it.
Steven: It feels good. Recording vocals was challenging as I didn’t have the phrasing fully worked out, some had to be redone. It’s always fun recording because Wayne (Bear Bites Horse Studios) makes it so easy.
Who is on your wishlist of artists that you’d love to collaborate with and/or open for on tour?
Gareth: We haven’t toured with Idles, though we shared bills with them a couple of times before they went stratospheric, and did an aftershow for them one time. They’ve always been kind and lovely to us, sharing our tunes on their socials and saying nice things about/to us, which we are very grateful for.
We opened for Mission of Burma once, I would have loved to do a full tour with them but they quietly split up last year, didn’t they? I’d love to play with Crack Cloud too. I’m not sure we’d go down very well with their audience though.
Steven: Metz were lovely and it was great to open for them. Lovely guys and very handsome. I’d love to play with Wire, but that probably won’t happen.
Speaking of live shows, what’s your favourite story from a show so far?
Steven: We played in Brussels on our first tour at a place called Barlok. It’s a great squat venue near the river. The gig was dead then all these people flooded in just before we played. It was really nuts, people falling everywhere. It descended into a weird drum circle with Dan attempting to plug his bass in but failing. Gareth dislocated his shoulder and we slept on the floor… it was freezing.
Settle an argument for us (and the rest of the world) pineapple on pizza?
Steven: Yes, but only if you’re a teenager
Gareth: As long as it’s paired with the right ingredients, pineapple on pizza is great. Me and my safe crew love pineapple on pizza.
Rising to the challenge, USA Nails have put together an electrifying collection of songs that best encapsulates the artists and music that inspire them as a band.
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