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Bad Nerves’ Bobby Nerves On Inspiration, Identity And Leaving A Musical Mark

Jack Rogers
Jack Rogers 19 November 2020 at 12.18

"People can have these little moments from our lives whenever they want, and that’s something really cool.”

Bad Nerves
are gearing up to release their long-awaited debut album this Friday (November 20) via Killing Moon. 

A frantic mix of raw punk energy and power-pop jubilance, it's a short and sharp shot of adrenaline that will have your foot tapping as much as your brain ticking. It's fun, free and full of surprises, the way that all good music should be. 

We caught up with frontman Bobby Nerves to find out about the band's origins, what drives him and what he wants to be remembered for...

So how did Bad Nerves first become something you wanted to pursue?
“For quite a few years I hadn’t really found any music that I really loved. I couldn’t seem to get everything I wanted from one particular genre. I would try heavier music because I loved the adrenaline, but then I also really liked the hooks in pop music. I could never work out how to find a balance between those two things until we started Bad Nerves. Will showed me a few bands that were doing this extremely well and that opened me up to a whole new world of music that I hadn’t really heard before.

“So that was the start of it. From there we just knuckled down and started writing as much as we could. It was exciting.”

It’s very rare that music can give you that much excitement later on in your life. People always talk about it when they were teenagers, but to discover something completely new when you’re older is pretty special…
“Totally! I’ve been doing music since I was a kid, but until this I kind of thought I was done with music. I didn’t really love it anymore. I liked listening to the classics, but in terms of writing I just wasn’t bothered. The garage punk and power pop stuff I then got into changed everything though. It gave me a new lease of life and now here I am.”

So how did that translate into what you wanted Bad Nerves to represent?
“The band is all about chasing that pure creative satisfaction, and trying not to let all the noise of the normal world get in the way of that pursuit. Because there is no better feeling. You get to a certain age and you start to feel the pressure to be doing something more conventional. But I never want to do anything that I don’t totally love."

In many ways this album feels like a product of your environment and the fact that you haven’t ever had a place where you can talk about these specific things or release these specific feelings…
"This band is the first thing I have ever done where the process of making the songs has been so unmatched. It feels good. In the moment it feels like nothing else in the world matters. Everything is blocked out. It’s hard to explain really but I feel like it keeps me sane. Everything I did before was satisfying to an extent, but this is the first project I have done where I truly love it.

​“This music is the perfect foundation to say whatever is on my mind because I’m not worrying about any of the other instruments like I have in the past. It’s all so simple and stripped back. So it’s very easy to just listen to the track and blurt out whatever nonsense is going through my head. It can be quite cathartic, especially if I’m talking about personal experiences.”

Well at the different points in your life when you discover music, your relationship with the world is different as well. So to be at a point where you feel like you can talk about whatever you want is really nice…
“Absolutely. And people can interpret our songs in so many different ways aswell. I’ve had people come up to me and explain what certain lyrics mean to them and that’s really cool, even if it’s not what was going through my head when I wrote it. I feel if I were too blunt with what I wanted to say, it would leave little room for interpretation, and I think that space is important."

So, what was the first song that you wrote for this record?
“In the first two or three months of me and Will starting the band we wrote ‘Dreaming’, ‘Can’t Be Mine’ and ‘Wasted Days’. That was when we realised just how much we loved writing this sort of music. We hadn’t planned to do it as a band really. There’s a lot of stresses involved in actually getting a band together, but once we had those songs it felt like there was no choice but to try and do it live.

“So the plan was originally to release an album and then call it a day. But then we put some songs on BBC Introducing and they got played on the radio pretty quickly, which lead to some unexpected attention. All very positive, but it did end up delaying the original plan to just release a record on vinyl and move on. I’m glad it worked out like that though because we ended up writing quite a few more songs, which make up about half of this record, that wouldn’t have been on there had we released it right at the start like we intended to.”

And how about the last song?
“That was probably ‘Baby Drummer’. That was a total Frankenstein of a song. The opening riff you hear now was originally the middle 8. The rest of the song was completely different. Once I started trying to write the vocals I quickly realised all of it was trash other than the cool middle 8 riff Will had written. So I made that the verse and added a few different chords to the chorus and started all over again. It took me months to figure out the vocals and the structure. It drove me slightly insane but fortunately it came out ok in the end!"

It feels like a lot of what Bad Nerves is about is spontaneity and instinct, but also knowing how to control those things as well…
"This album is very much a record full of singles, even though that wasn’t the intention. That’s just how it came out. But I like that because we just followed our gut and put together a bunch of songs that we really loved and that was that. I’d like the next record to expand beyond just back-to-back two minute songs. I want it to be more experimental but without losing the energy or the hooks that we have on this first one."

It’s almost like you needed to get this album done and out so you can take that next step, and the fact that you’ve put it out is more than you ever thought you were going to do. Yet as you look forwards, what do you want Bad Nerves to represent on a bigger scale? What place do you want it to have as something that plays a part in your life?
“Art of any kind is a time capsule. It’s a stamp from a time where I felt certain things and was influenced by certain bands and artists. I love the idea that if I was to die tomorrow, people would still be able to hear my voice through our music. It’s almost like life after death. It’s fascinating. That sound lives forever. People can share these little moments from our lives whenever they want, and that’s really cool.”

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