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Nomad

Nomad, hailing from the grey and feral streets of Manchester, delivers a wonderful piece of heavy, angry music with their debut album 'Feral'. We interviewed guitarist Lewis Atkinson and singer Drian Nash and talked about the current music industry, how good songs are written and why being angry is the right thing to do.

By: Bart M. | Archive under doom metal

First of all, congratulations with 'Feral', it sounds awesome. I read that the band formed in 2012 and became a solid unit a year later. Can you tell us a bit about what you guys did before then and how you eventually "clicked" with each other?
Lewis: I moved up to Manchester from Birmingham a few years before. I didn't really know many people and I wanted to start a band but it took a while to meet some likeminded folk. I was introduced to Drian and we started jamming and tried to recruit others but with no luck until we met Hayley and John. It was clear pretty quickly that this was going to be the Nomad line-up and the rest, as they say, is history. In the first session we wrote the song 'Burn The Water', from our 2014 EP 'The House is Dead', which is still a song we regularly play in our set today.

As a follow-up question: you are from Manchester, how is the metal scene up there? And is there a lot of exchange between the bands that hail from there? I mean, is it easy for musicians to get into contact with like-minded artists?
Drian: It's grown so much over the past couple of years, not just in Manchester but the whole of the North West of England. It's a great community of people and bands, with new bands cropping up all the time. Just from touring the country we have had so many people from bands we share a kinship with provide us with beers and a place to sleep.

The songs on 'Feral' sound very angry and aggressive, yet very controlled. What is the mood/mindset you are in when writing and playing the music you create? And what motivates you to create this music?
Lewis: When it comes to writing the music, we go with whatever feels good and works well at that time. There has to be a real hook and a groove to what we play. I usually come up with a main riff or an idea for a tune. If the guys like it then we jam with it until a song emerges. We work on it together, each member having an input; each song is very much a team effort. An idea for a riff can pop in to my head at any time, at work, in the car or on the train etc. To make sure I don't forget it I usually hum it in to my phone and record it. I hope no one ever hears those voice recordings; they sound like the humming of an idiot haha.

Drian: The main thing that motivates me to make this music probably does come from a place of anger. I think we all feel like we are seeing the world becoming a much scarier place politically so the main way I look at music is as a form of protest or venting of frustration.

Feral has various different meanings, but most of them relate to some state of wildness and being brutal. I think it fits the album very well. Why did you choose this title and what does it mean to you?
Drian: A lot of the lyrical themes are a criticism of civilization and its various institutions as a totalitarian force. So "Feral" I felt fitted the sound of the music but I also see it as a term which champions an attitude and way of life which would be much more in tune with nature and away from unsatisfactory hollow ideals of progress.

The artwork of your album is absolutely gorgeous, it is the kind of artwork that gets you interested in the music even before you know what it is all about, one of those pictures that gets you staring at it for hours and makes the imagination run wild. How does something like this come about? How do you get the artist to translate your idea into this picture?
Lewis: When discussing the artwork, we decided we wanted a cover that stands out but doesn't give too much away. We came across this image and we thought that it represented the music we were writing and the album title 'Feral' pretty well. The back cover is like an urban version of the front. We've always rehearsed in a fairly rough part of the city. Maybe that environment is one of the reasons why we sound as angry as we do.

Drian: Kind of following on from the previous answer I loved the way the front of the album mirrored the back of the album. Manchester and a lot of other urban cities do have a feral feel, no matter how much money they try to plough into these places.

On an unrelated note: what are the last three albums you bought/played and can you tell us something about them? Feelings, meaning? It does not matter if it is the latest Monster Magnet or perhaps the very first Spice Girls album. I really would like to know what kind of music you listen to on a regular day and why.
Lewis: Weedpecker III - I can't stop listening to this album. So far, it's my favourite release of 2018. Beautiful song writing and structure and the musicianship is stunning. I love the ambient vocals that glide over the music and the guitar tone is amazing. I'm a sucker for guitar tone.

Naxatras III - A friend recently got me on to these. A similar vibe to Weedpecker, but more stripped down and has more of a live jam feel about it. Very cool grooves. Just really good stoner rock.

Cannibal Corpse - 'Red Before Black' - I'm a big Death Metal fan and sometimes you need some straightforward, no-nonsense death metal, like this. Nothing challenging - just brutal! This is usually played on my way home from work haha

Drian: Sex Prisoner – 'Tanhauser Gate': I don't know a great deal about this band, they are Power Violence/Hardcore but some parts have a real gritty sludge feel. They are one of the main bands I really want to catch live at some point. They have captured so much intensity and rage on this album, it's a perfect soundtrack to smashing up a car with a branch.

Kendrick Lamar - 'Good Kid, M.A.A.D City': I listen to a lot of hip hop and this album's kind of controversially referred to as an instant classic. The lyrics are so dense and his performance on it is insane and the album shifts through so many different moods, it's one I always find myself coming back to.

SZA - 'Ctrl' : I'd say Sza is primarily an RnB singer but a lot of her music has a mixture of other genres such as Hip hop and Soul. I've binged this album since it came out. There are so many memorable hooks and vocal lines. It has a lot of really dark overtones running through the tracks and deals really bluntly with issues such as insecurity, anxiety and sexual politics in a really refreshing and personal way.

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'Feral' has a very mature, solid, interesting sound, it sounds as if you guys have been playing together professionally for decades. We know you have been together since 2013 and have released two EP's before you released 'Feral', but still I am wondering how you manage to create such a developed sound. Can you tell us about it?
Lewis: I think the developed sound comes from rehearsing and gigging together for the last five years. It's fair to say that our sound has progressed with each release. We saw 'Feral' as our chance to hopefully make a real impact, so when it came to recording the album we wanted to go in to the sessions with confidence. We decided to take a break from live shows so we could concentrate on finishing writing the songs and rehearsing them so we were well prepared which is probably why it sounds controlled and developed, like you say.

Another thing that strikes me when listening to this album is that some things seem to come back in several of your songs. Certain sentences, a couple of riffs. Is this intentional and if so, can you tell us why you did this?
Drian: A lot of the themes and ideas repeat themselves through the album. This was intentional. I wanted to write about the issues I thought were most pressing and I wanted the album to be cohesive and really hammer points home.

I noticed that on your Facebook your singer is referred to as Rev. Drian Nash. I think this means Reverend, and damnit, I love this kind of thing. It reminds me, for instance, of Messiah Marcolin (ex-Candlemass), but also of Reverend Jim (Jones), the guy who led a mass suicide in Guyana. Maybe not the best of examples, but still I wonder, what does Rev. mean in your context and why did you choose to use this?
Drian: Haha, the honest answer is I just got ordained as a reverend online as my favourite movie had enough of a cult following that it became an official religion and it was just one of those things that I thought was funny that stuck, and I always felt it kind of poked fun at the idea of these titles which I think for the most part are pretty vapid.

You have performed with a lot of other interesting bands. I am sure (listening to your music) they are just as glad to have played with you as you are to have played with them. What does it mean to you to play with these bands?
Lewis: We've been fortunate enough to play with bands such as Eyehategod, Prong, Bongripper, Conan etc, all of whom are big influences so getting the opportunity to play with them is a big deal for us. For me, getting to play with Prong was a particular highlight as I've been a big fan for many years. I tried to keep my cool but I ended up being a typical fan boy like everyone else haha.

Two of my favourite bands on that list are Dopethrone and Church Of Misery. What was it like to tour with them? Can you tell us about some of the experiences you had with them?
Lewis: Unfortunately, we didn't tour with either band but we were the local support for when they each came to Manchester. Both gigs were amazing, two of the best and most memorable that we've played. Like the previous bands mentioned, both Dopethrone and Church of Misery were all really cool, humble, laid back guys.

Another thing that I find very interesting is how you, as a fairly modern band, fare with the modern times. Personally I like to buy albums at the record store, because of the booklet and the smell of it (divine), and because a lot of bands I listen to are only intelligible after I have read the lyrics. Since streaming and services like Spotify exist, is it worthwhile for a band to make music or does it mean you all have to have jobs on the side? And, if you want to, please give your opinion/view on this development.
Lewis: The way people access music has certainly changed. I still like to buy my music on vinyl, CD etc depending on the availability and I also buy digital downloads from Bandcamp now and again. I think services like Spotify are good as a way to hear new music but if you're going to stream for free then you should at least buy a gig ticket and merch when the band comes to your town. After all, the music may be free to stream but it sure isn't free to make.

Drian: We all have full time jobs and with streaming services it has certainly changed the way a band has to operate in order to find any level of success. I think there have been positives and negatives to come out of this. It means that the live scene has benefited in a big way and people have access to such a wide catalogue of music that they may have not had the incentive or ability to check out before and hopefully this will spark more and more interesting music with wide ranging influences. While it has affected album sales that's just the reality and like anything bands have to adapt or die. I think that comes with understanding that the live performance is now really the primary product as that isn't something that can be pirated in a real way and when it comes down to it if anyone really wants to make music they will do, no matter what the financial rewards may be.

Finally, thank you so much for doing this interview. If there is anything you would like to say to our readers that I forgot to ask about, please do so!
Drian: Purchasing 'Feral' has a guaranteed 99.9% chance of improving your life. We have conducted research with the country's leading doctors and they didn't wish to speak with us because they were busy. However, we are certain they would recommend buying this album for any ailment you may have.

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