9 o’clock Nasty is a young group with a sense of humor. Any group that features Jimmy Carr on their album cover is going to give you something you never knew you wanted to hear. You can hear it in their songs, in the track covers and albums as well. If you want that as a standing point, you need to do some background in music-your tracks need to be good. 9 o’clock Nasty doesn’t have to worry about that, they’ve got it covered in Cut, their latest album.
Well, technically it is an album. It has 3 smashing songs, and Nasty thought we should listen to it, so we are. The swinging jives of The Racounteurs and Jack White’s influence is strong here, so is the Black Keys. As the songs overflow into swing but mainly stay in the lane of blues-inspired rock, I asked Nasty some questions about their composition and music style.
1) Cut sounds like an attempt to contribute to the sudden surge of rock music nowadays. Is that what the intention was?
We’re not sure that we are trying to join or contribute to anything. That sounds perhaps a bit detached or cold but what we mean is that we are happy as relative outsiders just doing our thing. In the past we’ve been part of a “scene” in the bands we’ve played in where you support each other and influence each other and a kind of shared sound emerges. Those influences live in us.
We listen to a lot of other music, and pick up on the work of other bands that are coming through (Our Man in the Bronze Age are one we would particularly recommend to your listeners) and it would be wonderful if something like a movement emerged from that. But we will do what we will do regardless. That probably sounds like we’re a bit up ourselves, but the truth is that if nobody listened to what we do, we would still do it.
We’re in a very different environment today than the last time rock strode mightily across the planet. We have the good things such as social media and live streaming that let you reach an incredible audience if you’re any good with minimal friction, but we don’t have the networks of small venues that allow a band to build a fanbase and generate the same kind of buzz.
Rock music is an artform that needs to be in a room with other humans to truly come alive – watch out for 9 o’clock Nasty hitting the stage soon, that’s our next challenge – and the business of promoting and reaching an audience with live music in a meaningful way is harder than it was.
Also, we should warn you that our next single is an out-and-out disco experiment – entirely designed for the dancefloor. So yes we want to contribute to people getting into rock music, but we also want them to listen to all music.
It’s all garage rock and its pure music. You can hear it in the lick of Dead Planet, their opener which should give you a cliff notes on what kind of style these guys rest heavy on. It is a quick paced number, easy on your ears and easier to dance to. As we can expect them to shift to disco because they love it( like the Foos with their Hail Satin, BeeGees loaded album), we can’t wait for more music after this teaser of an album.
Hunting for an album theme
2) Between the number of songs you put out in this album, what was the theme that urged you?
We write a lot of songs and we throw away more ideas than we allow out into the world. Saying no to an idea is sometimes just as important as the passion to complete it. On the first four EPs we had a simple approach. We picked a song that we thought could act as the leader. The one to hook people. The populist banger.
We picked one that was perhaps a bit more difficult. We picked one that was out-and-out strange. So on Growl, Monstruosa was the instant hit. We still get loads of plays for that every day (and it will probably open our live set). But tucked behind it was Walkman Walk. The video for that is far and away the most popular thing we’ve done on Instagram and we can’t explain why.
So we decided to relax a bit for Cut and just put together the three songs that had some sense of continuity and progression. We think all three are strong enough to lead. It’s a triple A side.
The album, Catch Nasty was harder in a way. We wanted it to be a “whole” and not just a series of songs without any theme or connection. Various songs were put on CDs and had them playing for days, and eventually one particular mix emerged as the favorite. Then we added some extra pieces to link the songs together. Quite a lot of re-recording and mixing was done to make some of the songs call-back to each other.
The good thing about that is it leaves us with a lot of strong material that wasn’t right for the album but that can form the basis of the next series of EPs and a single or two. It doesn’t feel like we just picked our best songs. The idea was always that the EPs come and go in a month, but that we will sell and promote the LP for the whole year. Catch Nasty is a good representation of what we make.
It does sound like a best song catalogue, and that’s what sells it. Cut is a supercut of 9 o’clock Nasty’s best tracks, each showing us a little more of what the band might be like. Their energy is infectious through headphones, so if you have a chance to go see them live, do so for me as well. Gravy Train relies on its catchy bass and then spins out in a ballet of notes that remind you of those Fred Astaire dance videos, sped up. Funky and groovy.
Good times, bad times-genesis during a pandemic
3) What has changed since the pandemic for you, artistically speaking? Any change in the process or the art itself?
The pandemic was the genesis of 9 o’clock Nasty. We were friends and had all been in bands before, and indeed had been in bands together. One of the songs (Sick Child) was born in a rehearsal for a band that never even played a gig that a couple of us were in. A friend discovered that there was a tiny space with a half derelict recording studio in his new home. We were all there for the lockdown and spending a huge amount of time in each other’s pockets. Rebuilding and getting all this old gear working became a bit of a project.
The hardest part was laying hands on good quality multi-track tape to record onto. Once you have a studio, you have to record. Once you record you become a band. In the past we’ve been in bands that wrote songs to play live, and then recorded those songs. In 9 o’clock Nasty, we write and record and assemble in the studio, and then later try to work out how to play what we have made live.
The live versions of all the songs will be much more raw simply because that will work better than trying to just reproduce what we did on a stage.
Talking about live versions, THX1138 will be a banger to listen to. I can already hear the crowd synchronizing with most of the parts, with all your punk style inspirations deep cut. Stiff Little Fingers, Dead Kennedys, I’m hearing them all. A perfect closer for this triple A side.
We have a lot of material, some finished, some needing work, so we will be working on that and rehearsing hard. There’s a single for next month, a total departure for us. Then we have a Christmas EP. In 2022 expect to see that tick-tock of an EP every month come back and we will begin live shows.
We also have some ideas for how we can crossover into other social media and engage the TikTok generation a little. Pull them into the madness.
You can probable draw strings like the detective scene in any cold case thriller and figure out that this band has gone through a journey. It makes no sense to just listen to this one album and stop, time to figure out more about this exciting group and what they have in store.
Styles & inspirations
5) Who are your inspirations for this style of music? Any surprises people wouldn’t usually guess?
For sure. When we first started releasing material we included a sample from a very well-known artist. Not an indie-person, a proper global super-megastar. The kind of person that has people, who have people that do social media for them. We sent them the song more as a joke than anything else, never expecting a reply. A week later we had this lovely, personal email from the man himself. He encouraged us and thanked us. Being the people we are, we couldn’t resist sharing some feedback of our own, so we pointed out some ways one of his most popular songs could be improved.
Turns out he had a sense of humour and back and forth over the weeks these emails accumulated to the point where we did a version of the song we were arguing about to show him how it should be done. We learned a lot about recording and arrangement in those conversations. Trying to reproduce the digital techniques using our analogue reel-to-reel system involved a lot of stupidity, but we ended up with some new tricks.
So yes, we are now superfans of this artist, and although we haven’t heard back from him for a couple of months we hope we can make him proud. The cover version is our next single. Other than that, loads of people. We listen to a lot of music. Punk, disco, glam, soul, rap, metal. We did a cover version of a Bauhaus song and expected to get flamed by all the superfans out there, but it turns out that goths are quite open-minded and kind people and liked hearing our deconstruction work.
One byproduct of what we’ve been doing is that our songs end up on playlists. We tend to just put those playlists on in the background and have found some real gems on them. There really is a lot of great new music being written and released out there. We just hope ours is good enough to stand out.
It surely is, and that’s coming from a rock/metal purist snob like me. You know the ones, who go off on a tirade when the St. Anger snare sound has to be discussed. Anyways, the point is to enjoy 9 o’clock Nasty with their newest album, Cut.