Back in January, a Cleveland punk band, Worship This!, dropped The Nard Years and blew my mind. Inspired by aggressive, No Idea-era punk bands like Hot Water Music and Small Brown Bike, the band had me spinning in basement show nostalgia for at least a few days straight. Ghettoblaster recently caught up with band guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Provchy to get the scoop on The Nard Years, their forthcoming tour, their Ohio brethren, and their forthcoming record. Here’s what he told us…
I hear a lot of Hot Water Music, Small Brown Bike influence in your sound. Were any of the bands from the ’90s/early ’00s legitimate touchstones, inspirations while developing the band’s sound?
HWM and SBB are definitely staples in our musical upbringing. The four of us, although having similar tastes in music, are kind of all over the place as far as what we’re into. We have tons of influences collectively. Jawbreaker, Braid and Knapsack seem to stand out as far as 90s/early ‘00s bands. Jeff’s two main drumming influences are Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins, so that definitely adds a different dynamic to our sound. When we first formed this band, we never had a talk of “We want to sound like this band or that band”. It was just whatever came out. We were all listening to a lot of D.I.Y. bands and local music, but we all had the same upbringing in punk and indie rock.
How has living in Cleveland influenced the music that you make?
None of us technically live in Cleveland, but we are there so often that it we identify with Cleveland’s aesthetic and music scene. We definitely all have a unique love for Cleveland. Most of our friends live there and most local shows we play are in Cleveland. I personally have a love for the city, because it’s viewed by outsiders as such an unkempt, disgusting city that is decades behind its counterparts. I feel the opposite and feel that there is so much inspiration to be drawn from a decaying city because the people here truly want to be here and they are proud to be from an area that thrives on being underdogs and working class. I feel the art that comes from this city is unique and we’re fortunate to be a part of such a catharsis taking place here.
Who do you consider your contemporaries from Cleveland? How about Ohio or the Midwest?
We have lots of friends doing awesome things. There are some awesome musicians that we have the pleasure of being friends with and playing a lot of shows with. Honestly, Ohio is really thriving with great bands these days and we’re fortunate to get to see these bands play so often. Everyone should check out Annabel, Signals Midwest, All Dinosaurs, Cherry Cola Champions, Two Hand Fools, Ultra Ultra, the Sidekicks, Reverse the Curse, The Ground Is Lava, En Garde, Harvey Pekar, American War, Vince Roy, The Lonely Kids Club, just to name drop a few Ohioans.
As far as the Midwest goes, there’s a ton of bands. We’ve had the pleasure to play with quite a few, but our favorite out of town bands to play with would definitely be Natural Disasters, Timeshares and Red City Radio. They definitely know how to hang hard and play hard.
When did you begin writing the material for the Nard Years 7”?
We started pretty much after we recorded our demo in January 2011.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
“Rest In Piss, Buju” was probably the most difficult song. It was originally called “The song we liked, that we didn’t like that we like again.” We went back and forth with the thought of putting it on the record because we didn’t think it fit cohesively with the other songs. We definitely arranged the parts quite a few times, but we are happy we put it on the record.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
For the most part the songs were all hashed out and rehearsed before we entered the studio. The only changes that we made were in “Rest In Piss, Buju”. We’re a pretty to-the-point band and we recorded with our friend, Chris Maneri, because we wanted to record live and capture an organic, unproduced sound. It’s misleading when you hear a record that is completely polished and you go see a band live and leave extremely disappointed because they couldn’t pull off the live performance. That’s something we really wanted to steer clear of with this record.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
We did not, but our upcoming full length most certainly will have some of our close friends and admired Ohio musicians on it.
Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
Our old friend, Chris Maneri recorded us at his studio in Cleveland. It was in an old warehouse that was converted into a studio/apartment. The studio was very spacious and had really awesome acoustics in the live room. One of the things we were excited about recording with Chris at UHF Studios is the level of comfort. We kicked off our shoes and were able to relax, so it made for a really comfortable setting in what could have been a very stressful process. Chris let us do our thing and we really appreciate that.
Is there an overarching concept behind Nard Years that ties the record together?
Being a 7”, we didn’t really conceptualize anything. The title, “The Nard Years” is named after my dog, Nard Dog, which we got at the same time we started writing this batch of songs. We tend to write very personal songs in this band.
“Michigan Ocean” was written in reflection of a letter I had written one of my best friends and former band mates that moved away to Athens, Georgia. “Posture Perfect” was written about the insecurities faced while being in a relationship, and personal qualms that you figure out about yourself as you transcend into “adult relationships”.
I can’t speak for Josh, but “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems” and “RIP, Buju” in my opinion speak in terms of getting over the insecurities we have in adult life. We watch all of our friends that we’ve grown up with move on to elaborate careers and it can definitely have you wondering if you chose the right path in life. At the end of the day, none of us regret playing in bands and touring and writing and working jobs that we can take the time off of to do those things, because the relationships and experiences we build and collect will always surpass any monetary supplement that we’ve chose not to chase. We’ve accepted that we’re not the same as those people and never will be, and we’ll never stop creating things we’re passionate about.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
We have been playing these songs since before the record came out. “Michigan Ocean” and “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems” seem to find themselves back to back in our set list, just as they are on the record. We really like the way the songs fit together and those two songs seem to be the songs best received. The record came out in January, so we’ve been throwing new songs in the mix and we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback, so we’re stoked to finally record this fall with Eric Cronstien (the Sidekicks, Reverse the Curse, Tin Armor) at The Tone Shoppe in Columbus.
How did you choose the studio/engineer for your forthcoming full-length? Do you know Sidekicks, Tin Armor? Did they provide positive reviews?
We’re good friends with Reverse the Curse, Annabel and the Sidekicks and it was unanimous that Eric is fucking awesome and not only did these friends talk him up; his work goes to show his talent. We definitely all are stoked to work with Eric and excited to hear the outcome.
You are heading out for a tour of the Midwest in August. Did you book that yourselves? Who are you taking along for the ride?
We did all of the booking ourselves along with Two Hand Fools. We are going out with our friends, Two Hand Fools. We’re really stoked because we hang out with them quite a bit at home so we already know we’re going to have a blast. They have to go home on our last three days so we’re meeting up with Ma Jolie in Philly and finishing up with them. They played my house last year and we hit it off with them really well and kept in contact. …Compared to Giants is one of my favorite releases this year, so we’re really stoked to get to play some shows with them again. If you haven’t heard them yet, you’re missing out.
Do you have jobs that make this an easy feat?
We all work full time, but for the most part our jobs are really supportive of what we do. This upcoming tour we’re just using vacation time, but we’re doing five weeks in Europe/UK next year and our jobs were really awesome about giving us time off for that. Ideally we’d like to tour full time, but we try to stay pretty realistic. We are a bit older than most of the bands doing it right now, so we have more obligations at home with our families, but any opportunity we get we will try to take advantage of.
Have you toured before? If so, were there any lessons learned on that trip that you’ll be applying on the current trek?
Aaron, Josh and I have all been in touring bands before. Jeff is super stoked to get out on the road so he gets us pretty fired up about it. I haven’t been on an extensive tour in three years, so I’m excited to get back on the road. I guess as far as lessons learned go, I recommend bringing enough underwear because you’ll never know when you’ll be able to shower.
Now Alternative Press is over in Ohio City if I’m not mistaken. Have you been over there to talk to those folks?
Yeah AP is over there. We have not been over there. I have some friends who work/intern there, so we’ve chatted a bit, but no talks as far as Worship This! is concerned.
When I lived in Cleveland the DIY show spot was Speak in Tongues. Where is it these days?
There were some sweet houses/spaces for a while, but have since fell to the wayside due to people either moving away or getting shut down. Dag Haus still does shows and that’s a great spot. I know a lot of people are looking into getting a space in the Cleveland area, but so far there’s been no luck. There’s a spot in Ashtabula called West End, which is a rad space and they get a lot of awesome acts stopping through. In Akron, It’s A Kling Thing! is also a pretty well known stop on national tours and they have a good thing going on over there.
Any of you guys into Dead Boys or Rocket From The Tombs?
I can only speak for myself, and although I do respect those bands, they were a bit before my time, so I didn’t get a chance to experience all of the crazy stories I’ve heard about them. They definitely put Cleveland on the map back in the day.
Don’t they have a Grateful Dead exhibit over at the rock hall this summer? Any of you been to see it?
The Greatful Who? Just kidding. I’m not really a fan of the Dead, but I honestly have never listened to them. I have also never been to the Rock Hall. I’ve wanted to check it out, but the opportunity has never presented itself. I heard there’s some pretty rare Clash memorabilia that would be cool to see, so maybe that should be on my to do list in the near future.
Also, On “Mo Money, Mo Problems” the guitar intro sounds like “Melt With You.” Intentional? Closet John Hughes fans?
(laughs) I don’t think any of us have ever heard that from anyone, but now that you mention it, I guess it does somewhat resemble it. Although I do appreciate some classics 80s tunes, it was completely unintentional.
How is Nard Dog these days? Will he tour with you? Derek Hess takes his dog on the road to book signings..
Nard is a wild man! I no longer have him. He ended up staying at my last place to be with his best friend, Buddha, who is also a Boston terrier. I don’t think he’d forgive me if I took him away from him. I still go visit him frequently and take them on hikes. I’d love for him to tour with me, but he’s developed somewhat of a drinking problem, so I don’t know if we’d be able to handle his antics.