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Gavin Brown Takes On Next To Nada – New EP “WHINE // MOTHS” Out Now | Interview Special

March 27, 2024

Gavin Brown Interviews Next To Nada

New EP “WHINE// MOTHS” Out Now

Armed with an array of fuzzy and hook laden riffs, sludgy grooves and a huge amount of energy, London four-piece Next To Nada (who consist of vocalist/guitarist Georgie Bogle aka Gigi Ruckus, guitarist Thom Oliver and bassist L. Francesca Liddle and drummer Jason Davies) fuse together an urgent mixture of garage rock, sludge, psychedelia, punk and doom to create an awesomely powerful and focussed noise.

Next To Nada recently released their latest EP WHINE // MOTHS and Gavin Brown caught up with the band to hear all about it and to get an insight into its creation as well as how the band started and what gigs they have got coming up in an informative piece on such an exciting band. 

Your new EP WHINE // MOTHS is out now. Can you tell us about it and what fans can expect from this release? 

GIGI: We wanted to ensure that the EP captured the ‘heft’ and, for lack of a better word, ‘texture’ of the noise we curate during our live shows – at a gig, we don’t mind if our sound isn’t to their personal tastes. But, in the least, we want them to remember the wall of fuzz, psych noise and droning that hit them throughout. So, in that vein, fans can expect a fatter, heavier and fuzz-laden sound which follows the pace and song structure of punk, but also leans into the repertoires of metal, psych, noise and indie.

THOM: We’re super happy that this EP has captured the ‘thickness’ we’ve been craving in our recordings for a while now! The two tracks contrast each other nicely, from the doom-laden stomp of Whine, Lips to the punk-injected, frantic yet calculated MOTHS.

What was the biggest influence on this new Next To Nada material? 

GIGI: Musically, WHORES’ album ‘Gold.’ (my fave ever production on an album. Everything just kicks you in the teeth)’ Swain’s first album ‘The Long Dark Blue’ (one of my fave albums of all time – ‘Edge of pop’ hardcore from way back in 2016. It always gives you something new to enjoy (iif not a whole song) on a relisten. Single Mothers’ album ‘Negative Qualities’ (this one’s more personal). When I heard it in 2014, it made all the other punk that I’d been listening to at the time – mainly Misfits, INDK, NOFX, Black Flag and Pinact – feel ‘dulled’.

Personally: Self-awareness and incredulity at my excessively intense emotions. As well as the whole:- ‘planet is dying, but for some reason I still need to get my report to Greg on Monday’, vibe of the 2020s..

What subjects do the songs on the EP deal with?

GIGI: So, we have three songwriters and three singers in the band. So, each and every release we put out, and intend to put out, will be drawn from a different perspective and/or influence (albeit, with every song being gilded and finalised, collectively) – some of us are more angry and ‘shouty’ towards the outside world, others are more introspective and morally reflective. However, for this release, two of my songs were chosen (and I’m the more ‘introspective (emo)’ songwriter). So, as follows::

Whine, Lips – Is effectively a self-depreciating recollection of the rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts I had whilst attending a house party during a particularly vicious cycle of poor mental health and worse coping mechanisms. The song’s verses detail the manic thoughts I felt whilst trying to socialise and enjoy myself throughout an evening, whilst the chorus’ lyrics describe the brief periods of lucid thought I had whilst alone in the toilet, hearing the party echoing through the locked door – i.e. acknowledging that if I continue to wallow, I will never be in the right headspace to work hard and find happiness/fulfilment.

MOTHS – This one’s a fairly laboured, moth-based metaphor about how, in the 2020s, increasing sections of the British population are struggling to pay for themselves and their families. Yet, rather than implementing more socialist policies to support those in need and invest in the long term health of the planet,  instead, money, fame, lotteries and ‘life changing’ prizes are jangled like keys in front of us. In most cases, being a life changing opportunity for the lucky, TV-Ready, few. It’s as if the common people should be grateful for the minuscule opportunity to win big, not need to work relentlessly and, in turn, not drop dead from stress at the age of 87 whilst trying to hit a deadline.

You released the track Whine, Lips at the start of the year, what has the reaction to it been like so far?

GIGI: This is, frankly, the most interest we’ve received in respect of any of our releases – reviews of the EP have been great and, on ‘Whine, Lips’ specifically, we’re pleasantly surprised and relentlessly grateful for the song to have been featured in ‘key rock and/or punk’ releases by established rock publications such as Idioteq, Total Rock and ‘Get In Her Ears’ and to have been increasingly included in publications’ Spotify playlists (being, in this day and age, almost ‘gold-dust’ for bands).  

Additionally, although we’re of course very proud of what we’ve put together, the bulk of the interest in Whine, Lips is owed: Firstly, to Lou Sawdy and Neil Kennedy of The Ranch studios in Southampton, who both really listened to what we wanted and, in turn, gave excellent suggestions and guidance throughout recording in order to ensure that the song sounded HUGE – i.e. going to such lengths as micing the studio’s, unused ancillary corridors in order to capture the atmospheric sounds recording, or including the slow scratching slide down a guitar’s frets to mimic the cry of a bird, as is featured in ‘MOTHS’ the second song from the EP. Secondly, to Rosie Solomon, for patiently guiding the band (me, in particular) through the effective way to market and build hype for a music release. I’m so relentlessly impatient and fear any sort of stagnation. So without their influence and, if left to my own devices, I would have dropped both songs without EP art or any advanced notice to fans (like I did with Spitballing – sorry guys!) and, likely, we’d have received little to no interest in the release.

How do you feel that Next To Nada have evolved as a band since your last EP Spitballing? 

GIGI: These days, we’re settled on what a ‘NEXT TO NADA’ song should sound like and what the ‘impact’ of our live shows should be – huge, fuzzy, with atmospheric song transitions, ‘tongue-in-cheek’ lyrics, all underpinned by a whirlwind of drum fills – making us impossible to ignore at a show.

During the ‘Spitballing’ days, we were more of a ‘heavy, blues-rooted, indie rock band – akin to a heavier QOTSA or MUSE and, perhaps, incorporating the irony of IDLES and 00s garage rock revival. Although we’re certainly proud of the songs we wrote during what we affectionately call our ‘Britpop era’, we noted that our sets felt a bit ‘lopsided’ – we’d often be leading from a heavy blues-rock slammer, into a catchy and sarky indie rock song (despite our best efforts to order the setlist and avoid this). We felt that audiences were thrown by the contrasting ‘heft’ of our songs and comments from friends echoed this sentiment. Effectively, we were a solid indie-rock band with no unified identity or sound, which wasn’t helped by the fact that we tended to play and be billed alongside heavy acts for metal, grunge or punk nights (for whatever reason!) – we certainly held our own in respect of volume, but less so regarding having a set identity.

Dirty/fuzzy riffs are inherently fun to write and we each have our own ‘uber-heavy’ bands that we, respectively, adore. So, we decided to lean into the dark music void and, ultimately, we were collectively drawn to a gothic, ‘wall of fuzzy, punk/grunge/metal noise’. We sourced ‘phatter’, bass heavy, fuzz pedals; Thom started experimenting with his array of weird modulation pedals and implementing them during, or in between, songs – injecting an anxious and foreboding atmosphere. Francesca [L. Francesca Liddle, bass], juxtaposed the huge new guitar sounds by dialling in a clean but cutting bass tone and, when playing, steers clear of root notes as much as possible. Finally, our long-suffering drummer, Jason, stalwartly accommodated our punchier, metal-focused, beat requests (often just poorly beat-boxed to him) and, in turn, retained his penchant for indie/jazz drum fills – resulting in a powerful and deliberately chaotic underpinning for the other instruments.

Can you give us a bit of background as how Next To Nada started as a band?

GIGI: Thom and I met each other in 2019 at an ‘introductory’ work event, where he was one of the new joiners and I was, apparently, meant to be a mentor. If I remember correctly, Thom was wearing an IDLES tee (or the band came up in conversation whilst I over-enthusiastically interrogated his music tastes). During our time working together, we each shared our previous experience playing in bands and attempts at musical side projects. Inevitably, this led to us agreeing to try and start a new band whilst drunk after a work party. Soon after, Thom held and ran an audition of sorts, with myself and three other people – a drummer (being the legend himself, Jason), a bassist (whose name I can’t remember) and another guitarist (whose name is lost to time, definitely not my memory). It was effectively a two hour jam and I was, frankly, very surprised that Thom invited me back, alongside Jason (who, as the only drummer, had the job – albeit thoroughly deserved), given their respective talent.

We then started meeting as often as we could, writing and working on songs (which eventually became the ‘Britpop Era’ setlist that I mentioned above) and hunted for a bassist – until COVID arrived and, pardon my French, was a real buzzkill. During lockdown, we continued to write songs, sharing parts back and forth and actually had our first band interview, with Warwick Raw Radio (the person who got in contact and arranged it assumed we’d been playing gigs for a while – it was pointedly awkward when it became clear we’d literally just formed).

Francesca and I met during lockdown, via Tinder (boo, hiss), and kept in contact for the remainder of lockdown and during everyone’s release back into society circa 2020/2021. When I found out that Francesca had started to learn bass, I invited her to ‘audition’ for the band – although, frankly, she already had the job simply because she’d showed up and because, despite playing bass for only a short period of time, was competent as hell. I’ll leave the other bandmembers to comment further, but, in my opinion, when Francesca joined, NEXT TO NADA became what it is today, Francesca’s unique approach to music composition and bass really encouraged us to take risks, experiment with weirder sounds and work towards a identifiable ‘NEXT TO NADA’ sound.

Who are the band’s biggest influences?

GIGI: Although we each have a unified vision in respect of NEXT TO NADA and, in turn, we each like alt / heavy music. We differ a fair amount on our specific band influences and the sub-genres we frequent. For me, the main influences on my songwriting and the shape of the band’s sound are WHORES, The Eels, Pigs x7, Drug Church and The Stooges.

THOM: my very early (we’re talking back in my early teenage years here!) musical influences were in fact rooted in 1970s – 80s ‘classic’ rock. My ‘big three’ were always Led Zeppelin, Queen and Pink Floyd. Although all of the same era, they were of course incredibly different bands, but this meant I had no problem unapologetically blasting off in all different directions to explore some of the endless sub-genres out there, including prog rock, psychedelia, more modern iterations of ‘stadium rock’ and everything in between. These days, my overall taste is genuinely all over the place, but in the context of N2N, my biggest influences have been MUSE, Foals, Nirvana, early IDLES, Amyl & The Sniffers (probably in that order as we have progressed). Add to this a peppering of more math-y Black Midi and Squid, and a dash of glorious noise from the likes of Lightning Bolt, and somewhere sits my songwriting! 

You’ve got a live date coming up at the Dublin Castle in May, how much are you looking forward to that?

GIGI: We cannot wait! We’re playing 30th May (ticket link – use code ‘nexttonada’ for a discount), alongside Hypnogator, Flying Colours, with legendary scottish alt-rockers Around7 headlining.

The Dublin Castle is a legendary venue and relentlessly fun to play. We’ve graced their stage once before and the venue’s loyal punters came out in droves to support the entire evening’s lineup, despite each band’s significantly varying levels of notoriety. It really is a gem of a venue, in no small part to its fostered scene.

Also, DEAR LORD, their backline and main sound-person are excellent. Sometimes, we find that the heft and size of our sound blows out or excessively clips as venue’s PA system, forcing the poor sound-person to adjust our levels on the fly (which, rarely sounds good without knowing the band’s music well – often you end up just losing all volume from one of the guitars or a vocal mic mid-song). Whereas, at the castle, there was absolutely no issue. The sound-person understood and was able to accommodate every specific request we had set and, without even knowing our songs, managed to alter our respective volume levels on the fly, emphasising the spiciest parts of our songs (solos, breakdowns, set outros etc.).

Further, the promoter for the 30th May, CMDN LIVE, are one of the most professional that we’ve worked with and we look forward to doing so again – they always a have great headliner; any advanced backline info and set times are accurate (and, if any pre-agreed admin has to be changed, they will give you decent notice and involve you directly in figuring out a solution). It may seem like these factors are just polite and professional. But we’ve certainly dealt with our share of lacklustre, local promoters making changes without warning – i.e. requesting you forgo a soundcheck, making last minute lineup changes (i.e. meaning your fans could miss your set), or providing gear ‘load in’ times before the venue is even open. (As a side point/rant to any new bands reading this, always fight your corner if this happens (politely of course) and push for what you want/need. The promoter is not the one doing you a favour – you’re the ones bringing in their money, by giving up your free time to practise, build hype, create promo, bring a good crowd and put on a decent show.)

Overall, given the Dublin Castle’s history there’s huge local support from the younger and older generations and all those in between for new, local, established and legacy bands alike. The venue really feels punk, which I’m sure reads like a tired cliché, but it’s absolutely true – the worn decor radiates history and character (as opposed to wear and tear), there’s an air of chaos (the fun kind) that’s complimented by a hint of comradery and positivity that flows through its chambers. Punters are the fully garbed punks, rockers or metalheads that, typically, you’ll only ever glimpse travelling solo, or in small groups, day-to-day and they truly care about the music. (n.b. I’ve definitely simped enough about the Castle now. But, for god sake! GRAB A DRINK AND SEE A LIVE SHOW AT THE DUBLIN CASTLE! You won’t regret it.

What other gigs have you got coming up?

FRANCESCA: We’re playing The Finsbury on the 13th of April! 

How do you feel that the new material will go over in the live arena?

FRANCESCA: We’ve been playing these songs live for about a year now, and Whine Lips especially does throw people for a loop! The song began with Georgie DMing me and asking me to make the heaviest bass tone I could, and that’s still the ethos; that song, especially the intro, is just all of us being as punishing as we can. Turns out we can sound pretty heavy, and you see a few flinches. Plus we got through to the second round of Metal to the Masses last year with these songs on the setlist, which is pretty cool for a band that started off playing indie.

What have been your favourite gigs that the band have played so far?

FRANCESCA: Our first gig as a full band was at the O2 Academy Islington, which was a trip. We didn’t really have a sense of how we’d sound as a full unit and there we were in front of what’s still one of our biggest crowds. In my experience, if the first two songs of a set go okay, the rest always goes fine just cause of the confidence, and I got kinda delirious midway through the set thinking, oh damn, we’re getting away with this!

GIGI: I can deffo back up Francesca’s above comments. After the show, she literally said to me something akin to ‘…wow, this band actually has legs’. Also, for my fave moment, I’d reiterate my comments about the Dublin Castle above – we had a full crowd to play for and they loved it, what more could a musician want?

What have been the most memorable live shows that you have ever seen?

FRANCESCA: Seeing Charly Bliss in 2019 always stuck with me cause it was a top-five performance for me by a band who are… maybe in my top-thirty? Like Radiohead didn’t get points for playing well when I saw them, of course they were amazing, they’re fucking Radiohead. But then this little indie band with one really fun pop-rock album under their belt comes in and absolutely nails things. It was a real “genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” moment; writing great songs is fine, but getting a whole band to do them real justice in a live set is really something to brag about. Plus I bumped into Eva afterwards and got a photo, and instead of saying goodbye she just said “start a band” and ran off. So thanks for the tip, I guess?

GIGI: Two instantly come to mind – Firstly, Cerebral Ballzy at Reading 2014 (there was no crowd, only pit, screaming and punk patches. Easily the most invigorating ‘danger’ I’ve felt at a heavy gig and the most bruised I’ve been as a result. But, I’ll never regret shouting and bundling around the stands for the whole 40 minutes of their set in pure, ecstatic chaos).

Secondly, Pigsx7 at The Craufurd Arms, they have such a heavy sound, yet their set almost lulled me into a trance – songs blended from one to the other with little notice, each bandmember deep into their own inner groove, whilst . I left feeling like I’d had the best meditation session of my life (and neck pains from the headbanging).

What albums have had the biggest influence on you?

GIGI: As I mentioned above, although we each have some ‘venn-diagram’ crossover in respect of the bands and genres we like, our favourites tend to differ. So, I won’t answer on behalf of the others, but for myself – I’ll refer back to the WHORES and Swain albums I mentioned above. Otherwise, ‘Mellow Gold’ by Beck is my fave album of all time (I can’t believe the label allowed him to make it. It barely has a consistent genre, feels misanthropic as hell  and makes you feel like you’re struggling to survive from a seedy LA motel); ‘Funhouse’ by the Stooges (Ron Ashton is my ‘solo style’ guide shaman) and, finally, ‘Elephant’ by the White Stripes (Jack White’s ability to make a simple, catchy and dirty groove is unparalleled).

What have been some of your personal highlights with Next To Nada to date?

FRANCESCA: Recording WHINE // MOTHS at The Ranch was such a blast. Everything came together so well and the team were great to work with. And then getting takeout and staying up in the dorm watching movies. That’s the great thing about being in a band, it’s simultaneously a fulfilling creative exercise and an excuse to act like a uni student in your thirties.

GIGI: I agree with Francesca. Like any creative pursuit, once it has legs and you’re working with people you gel with, it just feels like you’re pissing around as a teenager again – it’s not work, it’s fun (at least, until the passion becomes a job, I’m sure). Also, you get to leave holding a killer song and feeling like a rock god!

What do you still want to achieve with the music of Next To Nada in the future?

FRANCESCA: Going on tour, for me. Nothing too fancy, doesn’t need to go worldwide, but just cramming some gear into a van and hitting up some other towns. I’ve always loved road trips.

GIGI: I’m with Francesca, I’d love to try out the tour experience and collect as many anecdotes as I can on the way. Further to that, we’re planning (if all goes to plan) at least two new songs per year for streaming release – we’ve got plenty more to record and we adored the production process, so why not keep having the fun!

THOM: in the short-to-medium term, going on a UK tour to play in a variety of towns / cities across the land would be amazing – even if just for a week! I have also always been a big fan of road trips, and doing one with the band as close friends would be the dream! 

Thank you so much for spending time with Gavin and Circuit Sweet!

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