Louder with Em from Nervus
Updated: Feb 6
If you’re looking for a band who are indisputably individual, powerfully vocal and unapologetic, you don’t have to look much further than Watford-based quartet Nervus. Through releasing an EP and two albums that wrestle with some of the most fundamental questions about identity facing society today, their music and their shows have become a safe haven for may who lie outside the boundaries of society’s binary structures. We caught up with vocalist Em before the band’s show at Gullivers in Manchester to discuss their latest album, touring as a DIY band and the blurring of boundaries between bands and their fans:
You released your album ‘Everything Dies’ in March. How have you found the reception to that record so far?
It’s been cool. There’s been a lot more fuss about it than I thought there would be. We’ve played a bunch of great shows. Now people are taking us more seriously than they did on our first album for some reason. I don’t know why, they’re both great!
Certain songs on that record like ‘Sick Sad World’ have an upbeat tone with a sombre underlying message. Is the balance of light and shade part of what makes Nervus work for you?
I think if I delivered everything I thought in the tone that I was thinking it, then it would just be miserable! Although we write songs about poignant or upsetting stuff, a lot of the time you listen to music as an escape or a distraction, something you want to enjoy. It means the live show can be super fun and energetic, although we have got quite a lot of slow ones.
A lot of your music is charged with these messages of socio-political activism. Is that something you feel is important for music to promote in the current social climate?
Yeah, I think anyone with a platform has the responsibility to use that to do better for people who are less well off than themselves, and I don’t mean to speak for people, I mean I think it’s important to challenge people’s perceptions on stuff and make a point of being vocal about what you believe. If you don’t stand for anything then what’s the point?
Certain songs such as ‘Medicine’ have been an outlet for some very personal emotions. Do you ever find it difficult to let those intimate emotions out into the world, and once you’ve released the music how much do you feel like it belongs to the fans, and how much do you still retain autonomy over it?
For me, it’s everyone’s to make what they want of it. The writing of that song and performing that song has a purpose for me. It’s helpful for me but if it’s helpful to anyone else it belongs to whoever wants it. It’s like, once it’s out there it’s not mine any more.
Your relationship with your fans is an incredibly close one. Have you ever had an experience with fan’s that’s changed how you view your music or the importance of your message?
While we try and maintain a conversational kind of relationship with our fans – our fans can speak to us whenever and we can speak to them and it’s no big deal – one problem I’ve had is fans that want to talk about stuff that I sing about, and obviously I open myself up to that anyway by singing about it, but without considering how they’re speaking about what they’re speaking about, and that I actually experience those things too. And how they’re talking about it isn’t necessarily the best way to chat to me about it. So sometimes it can be difficult setting boundaries and making sure that those aren’t crossed. I’m an anxious freak, essentially! And it’s amazing, you can see from them that they’re having this moment, talking about how our music has affected them and how it’s put them in a better place, but sometimes when people come up and say stuff to me, it’s like they don’t think about what they’re saying.
But most of the time it’s great, and I’m really glad that people can take something from it, that’s what it’s for and it’s what my favourite bands have done for me.
You’ve done a range of tours over the last year, from larger ones supporting Creeper to smaller DIY tours- do you have a preference and what are the advantages or disadvantages of DIY touring for smaller bands?
Do I have a preference? No. I think there’s advantages and disadvantages to both- when you’re touring with bigger bands, you have the comfort of knowing that you have a backstage room, you know that the venue is going to be warm and that there will be food and so on, but you’re still touring in a van the same way we do on a DIY tour. I think that the comfort is greater in those shows, but they’re not your shows and not necessarily your fans, so you’re trying to win people over rather than having people come to the show because they like your band. They’re different, but at the end of the day it’s still just us getting in a van and listening to Type O Negative really loudly!
You now also have a permanent position in Milk Teeth- do you think that both bands will influence each other musically, or will they stay very separate projects?
Milk Teeth is very much already its own thing, and I can bring stuff to the table, but Becky (Blomfield, bass/vocals) is the songwriter in Milk Teeth, and I’m just playing along to stuff she’s written, and I think that while Nervus and Milk Teeth may not necessarily have influences on each other, you always learn loads when playing with different people, which is why I play with so many different people, because you learn so much about being a musician, and I’ve learnt so much while being on this tour with Milk Teeth- in terms of playing guitar, I’m so much better than I was even four months ago! So I think in that way they’ll influence each other, but in terms of style I think we both have our own things, and while we’re not leagues apart in terms of style, we’re not similar either, so yes and no!
You’re soon to be hitting France, Germany and Belgium. Having been earlier in the year with Kamikaze Girls, are there any of these places that you’re particularly excited to play in again?
I’m really excited to play Solingen and Wiesbaden, and I’m actually really excited to play Paris and Hamburg, because we’ve had great shows in all of those places already this year and we know that they’re great places, which is why we’re going back. The Belgium show I don’t know much about, it’s a bit of an unknown entity for me because that was one of the shows that Lauren (Denitzio, vocals for co-headliners Worriers) booked, but I’m excited because it’s the last day of tour, so no doubt it’ll be very stupid!
Following on from this tour, do you have any plans for new music on the horizon?
How mysterious! Whatever the next steps are going to be for Nervus, they’re sure to follow on in their established vein, and be bold, unapologetic and proudly down their own, newly carved path.
‘Everything Dies’ is out now via Big Scary Monsters Records. Watch the video for ‘It Follows’ below:
Nervus are currently touring the UK and Europe as co-headliners, alongside Worriers- dates can be found below:
Connect with Nervus on Twitter: @nervusmusic
Connect with Nervus via their website: www.nervusmusic.com