Interview – 9 o’clock Nasty

I recently revived my series on underground punk music, publishing the third iteration a few days ago. 9 o’clock Nasty were one of the acts I featured in the review, adding their song, Playboy Driver, to the list. I decided to talk to them to find out a little more, the results of which can be found here:

By Jane Howkins

You recently released a song titled Playboy Driver, which we reviewed. What can you tell us about the song and where can it be purchased? What does the title refer to?

All of our stuff is available in the usual places to buy or stream. We’re not always ecstatic about streaming as platforms like Spotify have managed to reduce the value of independent music to almost zero, but if you aren’t on it, people can’t or won’t hear your music. We operate a newsletter, and anyone subscribing gets access to all of our discography, and some unreleased stuff for free.

Playboy Driver marked a change for the band. Up until now, we’ve worked as a very tight unit without help from anyone, but Playboy Driver, although the idea is very simple, just did not come out as we wanted it, so we involved a producer called Richard Blake, who is a wizard and a genius. He has more of a mainstream rock sensibility and he found the song that was trying to get out, although we probably destroyed his sanity in the process.

Trying to unpick what Playboy Driver is about is a dangerous game. It probably speaks for itself. Most of our songs are ironic on some level, but we do deeply love everything associated with James Hunt.

Has the pandemic hindered your work much?

We are children of the pandemic. We’ve all been in bands before, and friends for years. Literally the week before the big lockdown, we moved together into a big old house in a village outside Leicester. The hard stop of the pandemic gave us time to talk over ideas, and then to mess about playing cover versions and nonsense. The house has two drum kits, 5 amps and too many instruments. 9 o’clock Nasty was born around 3am one night after too much beer when a new song formed in the mess. We wrote the songs for the LP Catch Nasty during the worst of the pandemic and never stopped.

Oddly, a lot of the bands we chat to had a similar experience. Either they formed during the lockdown itself when people had chance to re-evaluate what they were doing, or they rebooted a band they already had and took it in a new direction.

In the past, we’ve always played in bands that played live. You wrote the songs in the rehearsal room and you made the song you could play. Lockdown liberated us from that. Now we make the songs we want, and playing them live is a secondary consideration.

What is the writing and recording process like for you?

Pure chaos. The most common start of a song is around the kitchen table in the studio. One of us will have a riff or sequence of chords, another will throw in a few words and we’re off to the races. We write a lot of lyrics by text message. Having all the gear to record to hand makes for some long recording sessions where a raw idea can very quickly build into something almost good enough to release. Other times, one of us will have a strong, complete idea and work that up into a demo, which the rest of the band then tear to bits and rebuild. No two songs have been made the same way. We’ve been called eclectic, partly because we skip genres and mix it up a bit. That’s a natural product of an environment that allows ideas to emerge and be captured quickly. We delete a lot of music. For every thing that escapes into the world, many others end up erased, or wait to be recycled. No is the most important word in recording songs.

Finishing songs is the hard part. We’re quite obsessive people by nature, so mixing and adding final touches can take a lot to time. The bass drum sound on the next record took a whole night to argue into shape. That helps us filter out the songs that aren’t quite good enough. Playboy Driver very nearly died at that production stage. We knew there was something there, but it needed another point of view to rescue it..

Do you plan to release any singles in the near future?

Yes. One a month, forever! We’re feeling our way a bit with the kind of approaches that work for an independent artist, but the one piece of advice everyone gave us is to release a little, often. So we have a series of songs recorded and ready to go. Food on the Floor was the April release – a more upbeat garage-pop song, Darker Star will come out in May and is probably the best thing we’ve written and recorded to date. We went back to recording analogue for that one, which gave it a really old-school feel. The follow up to that will no doubt be harder edged and very digital. Being independent, and not being tied to the idea that we want to please anyone, gives us huge freedom.

Are there any plans to release an EP or an album anytime soon?

The next LP will be called By All Means Necessary. Another 16 songs, much like Catch Nasty, but about 50% singles and 50% previously unreleased material. It could have dropped this month, but we’re holding it back until we go on tour, as gigs are one of the few places where you can sell a decent number of CDs and much as we love the idea of a physical product, we don’t want boxes of them hanging around the house!

We were surprised by the economics of CD sales a bit. We like to buy the thing. To have the record or the disc. To hold it in your hands. Catch Nasty was a success for a no-name indie act, in the sense that we more than covered our costs and it got a lot of downloads. But the compact discs took a while to sell.

What/who influences you most as an artist? What have you been listening to recently?

The music that inspires us right now is all new. We love a lot of music from the past, and you can probably hear influences in our stuff but at the moment it’s acts like The Qwarks, I Am Unicorn Head, Bones in Butter, Golden Plates, Avresa, Otara, Molosser, Melodiam, Everything but the Everything, the Hell Bodies, Julience… It’s a long list. There really is a lot of good alt-indie music from all over the world coming out now, it’s a great creative period. If any of your readers is looking for good new stuff, give the hashtag #newindie a look. You’ll be surprised at the quality and range of bizarre, insightful and moving music bubbling up.

Whereabouts are you based and what is the music scene like in your part of the world?

Well, that is a hard question! Isolation from everything, and the music scene is kind of where we started. We are from Leicester in the UK. We are very much from the city and we love it dearly. There is a great music scene in Leicester with bands like Produkty, Longtooth and Wasterman, Potato Legends and many others. But we are not from that scene. We live on the internet and our audience is certainly not local. The other bands we work with, and chat with are not tied to a couple of venues where we go drinking. Our biggest audience is on the East and West Coast of the USA and in Germany. Then some places in the UK, but not local to us.

Leicester has some cool venues and people that run them know their music. We’d like to do more to support it, but at the moment all our energy is in reaching the people that want to be reached.

Do you have any tour dates lined up?

We do! As we said, playing live is not a priority, indeed our songs wouldn’t work with us as a three-piece band playing them traditionally. So we’ve had to rewrite some quite heavily and come up with a real freak-show approach to putting on a live performance. It will not be anything even close to a trad post-punk act. We’re rehearsing regularly now to get it as tight and as fun as it needs to be. There’s no way we’d do a live event that was half-arsed. Well it needs to look half-arsed, but be done well.

So we will be starting in August, although we may drop a warm up into July. It will certainly be in several cities across the UK and hopefully if the money works out, in Europe too. We’ll announce the dates nearer the time and promote the hell out of them. We will also want to do some smaller gigs as a support act to reach new people, so any bands wanting a slightly odd warm up act should get in touch. We would love to play in York, but we probably don’t have enough people locally that would turn out to make a gig viable – but we’re always keen to collaborate with local artists and put something together.

What can people expect from one of your shows and why should people come and see you perform live?

Cabaret. Energy. Confrontation. We can’t reproduce our records live and we aren’t going to try, but we can bring the same energy and side-eyed humour. We’re good enough musicians to mix it up quite a bit. Right now all we can say is, have a look at the Sexy Back video on YouTube. That is probably the closest thing to what we have planned for the live show. Also come prepared to join in. Audience participation is essential. Our aim is to put on a live show that people will talk about and remember for the rest of their lives. Nothing less.

Any last words for the fans?

Thank you for your support. It’s a messed up world. Be kind, do what’s right. Get into them.