Here's another set of fascinating insights into the lives of the bands that keep us sane. In today's interview, all four members of USA Nails talk to Mark Glenister about life in this never-ending lock-down and their need to keep creative and learn new skills such as animation.
Firstly, how are you all?
Steven - I’m good thanks. Busy with work and adapting to working from home. I’ve set up a bit of an office in the spare room, I had to because I was spending most of my time wanting to hang out with my 6 month old baby.
Gareth - I'm doing well, I am a "key worker" apparently so am also still working (from home). I am keeping well and finding enough stuff to do day to day to not go mad. I know I'm one of the lucky ones in that respect.
Dan - I'm fine.
Tom - I’m fine too. The band are a bit weird but they always were.
Do you have a daily routine, are you learning anything new as everyone else seems to be?
Dan - I work within the events industry so naturally my work has disappeared for the foreseeable future so my daily routine involves a lot around not procrastinating and keeping busy with my other projects. Steven and Gareth inspired me to look into recording at home so it's been fun learning that. I also screen print and do a lot of art work, so that crops up in my routine day to day. Every day is the same but different.
Steven - My routine is fairly fixed. Up at 6:30 to hang out with the little one. Work 9-4. Then usual bedtime routine. I’ve been trying to do something creative in the evenings - making music, videos, painting - if I’m not knackered like.
Tom - I set myself some new practice routines for drums. 2x 1hr sessions everyday. I think it helps my mental health to achieve this at the very least so I don’t feel as if I’ve done fuck all. I’ve also got into cycling on those shonky bozza bikes (public London bike hire thing).
Gareth - Routine...just about yeah. Pot of coffee, followed by work, followed by exercise and/or some drumming, followed by re-runs of the office or something creative like video-editing or making weird music. I've also decided to learn how to animate, which we'll use in an upcoming USA Nails video hopefully. It's taking ages.
Are you seeing this lockdown as a time to be creative? And has it changed the way you view the industry?
Steven - I have to be creative. I’m terrible at expressing myself any other way. As for the industry, I guess the way we operate hasn’t massively changed, other than not rehearsing and gigging.
Dan - Yes, I guess it's natural to lean on your creativity at a time like this. We are doing a couple of cover compilations. We all did three songs each. I guess this links in with wanting to learn home recording etc.
Gareth - Normally I would never have given myself the time I've got now to experiment and produce the things I have done in the past few weeks . So that's been pretty great really. I feel really bad for people
who rely on entertainment and events for a living, I know many of them are really struggling at the moment.
Tom - I’ve been furloughed from my workplace so this was definitely a time for me to be creative and do some video editing and write a bit of music. My views on the industry haven't really changed. I don’t think it’s affected us as a band as it would full time touring bands. I guess it’s given us a little more time to get some artwork and music videos done which is always nice.
As a band are you doing anything for the fans? A lot of online gigs and Q&As seem to be the norm for a lot of bands, how easy or difficult is that for you as a group? How has this impacted your side projects?
Dan - We've got a few things lined up to be released. I'm in a couple of other projects (The Eurosuite and Health Plan) and have releases coming up.
Steven - I did a couple of solo sessions for our friend Tom. They’re up on our Bandcamp. They money raised goes to Mind. We’ve been busy making videos for songs off our next record and made a couple of EPs of covers too. Again cash goes to charity, Refuge. I play in BLKLSTRS too and we’re preparing our 3rd record, should be out really soon. Dan (Nails bassist) and I started making some music before lockdown together too. Dan recorded a bunch of vocals and emailed them over to finish the tracks off. It’s good to keep the mind busy.
Gareth - I also did a session for Tom also with my solo garb. As Dan says, me and him (he's a busy boy) pre-lockdown started a synthy no-wave band called The Eurosuite, and we have a record that is currently being mixed, so that's holding our attention a fair bit. On top of that I'm doing a series of stupid "drum covers" on social media to raise money for the NHS.
Tom - Cutting together some music videos for the new album release. For once, it seems we’re well ahead of getting everything ready for it.
With the lockdown being extended, does that effect plans for tours, singles, albums?
Dan - I can't see any gigs happening this year unfortunately. I hope i'm wrong.
Steven - In short, yes. We had to cancel our US tour.
Gareth - Yeah cancelling the US tour was a huge downer, obviously. But the release of our next record (which has already been recorded) is kind of on course for the moment.
As a fan I know how much I miss going to gigs, for the music and for the social aspect, is this something that you miss as well?
Dan - Yes me too, I will miss the gigs both playing and as a punter. I think what I miss most though is the people and the friends I made either by going to gigs or being in bands. I'm sure I will see them all soon.
Tom - I was happy as Larry for the first couple of weeks of furlough but then I went a bit mental for a day and felt the urge to go to a music venue and get really pissed. I didn’t do that of course, I just video messaged a mate, played music loud and got really pissed.
Steven - Prior to lockdown I wasn’t really going out much. I’ve recently become a Dad and it’s changed me a lot. If I’m out I just want to get home really. I’ve always been a bit of a drinker, but mostly to cope with feeling socially awkward. I miss the loud sounds and laughs though.
How important are your fans at this time, I know and I speak from experience, a lot of merch is being purchased to help bands, and I know you have a great connection with fans generally so are they an important aspect of getting through this?
Gareth - People who dig us and support are as important as they ever were. We've seen a steady stream of merch getting bought off our online store which is great particularly as we're still trying to get some of the cash back that we spent on the US tour that we had to cancel *sob*. But yeah it feels like folk are buying more and interacting more than they normally would which is lovely.
Despite horrors of this pandemic, the lockdown seems to have a created a lot of really positive community action, and for once social media is being used mainly I a positive manner – Do you want life to return to normal once this is over, or would you like people to be using this time to evaluate their lives and start be part of communities and positive social change?
Tom - This time has made me value the simple pleasures of going out to see a gig or playing one, so I hope to continue to do that as soon as I can, and be part of that community.
Steven - I’d like to see people continuing the niceties. There’s a bit of a backlash against people singing songs on acoustic guitars on their social media pages but I say go for it. If you don’t want to watch it, don’t press play. But if it makes someone feel good to play a guitar and sing then they should. Social media is great for staying in touch but I do struggle with Zoom conversations and the like. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing friends and family. I’ll probably be a bit nicer to be around too!
Gareth - I think Steven mostly struggles with Zoom because the speaker function on his phone doesn't work properly. We've tried to have band chats and stuff but I've had to get pretty good at lip reading and that. I agree with Steve that there's a lot of "nice" stuff happening, and I'd hope that'd continue. In terms of what happens when this is all over, if it ever is, the main thing I'd like to see is people not voting for the Tories. The UK has the second highest death toll (and rising) in the world at the time of writing this, in my opinion there hasn't been nearly enough outrage about how catastrophically things have been managed. I live in hope that we'll see them out at the earliest possible opportunity.
Next up: Mark speaks with the Brooders, which you can read on Friday.