A little bird told us that an unsung hero of the old school Batcave scene was not only playing an upcoming show but that it’s their US debut at that. Twisted Nerve from Edinburgh, Scotland spend the late 70s and early 80s blazing new paths in punk and goth by paving the coalescence of the two camps firmly in the lexicon of all these pissed and dark. Releasing several pioneering singles right at the crest of the UK new wave and making a name for themselves alongside the likes of Alien Sex Fiend, Sex Gang Children, and Bauhaus, Twisted Nerve was all but forgotten after the mid 80s when hardcore and electronic music swept in. Luckily for the internet age of music fandom, they have now been discovered by a new generation of fans and have been hitting the road, reassembled, after decades. When I heard they were hanging on the West Coast soon, I decided it was time for an interview with Craig, the vocalist:
What inspired you to regroup after all these years?
TN: We reformed in 2007 to play what we thought was just gonna be a one off. I was contacted by a company in New York who promote a festival in Europe every year. This turned out to be the infamous Drop Dead festival and that year it was in Prague. I was still in contact with Norbert Bassbin, the original bass player and asked him if he would consider doing it. The guitarist had moved to Australia and the drummer was in and out of rehabs for years so we got two friends from a local band in Edinburgh to do it with us. We rehearsed and it was sounding good, so we went to Prague and played with our old friends, Sex Gang Children, Ausgang, Rubella Ballet etc. We went down an absolute storm, had a great time and made a lot of new friends. We got back to Edinburgh to find offers from all over the world to come and play and we’ve been doing it ever since.
I see there was some line up changes between The Insults and Seance. How many members in the current lineup consist of these specific eras?
TN: Wow, how the fuck do you know about the Insults? There have been many guitarists and drummers pass through the band since the beginning, Norbert is the founding member and bass player. I was asked to join the band in 1980 when I was in my other band Aerosol Burns, our guitar player Mr. Dunsmore is now a permanent member and on the drums we have Dave Grave, so really this is the first settled line up since we reformed.
Is this your first time playing in the US?
TN: This is indeed our first time in the States and its been a long time coming, we never made it over there the first time round and its one of the few places we have never been. Since we reformed we have had a couple of offers to play New York, but for various reasons they fell through. We are very excited about coming to California to play.
Are you planning on more US show dates in the future?
TN: The funny thing is , is that when it became known we were coming I started to get interest from other cities, so we’re just coming to do this one show this time, but I think that we could come back next year to do a string of shows – and I need to play New York before I hang up my spurs.
How do you feel goth or dark punk is different now as compared to the late 70s/early 80s?
TN: In the early eighties, none of us thought anything about goth or any labels. I know all the main players and they all just thought that they were in a great band and there were other great bands around at the same time. My two favourite bands at the time were Southern Death Cult and Brigandage, completely different sounds. Remember we started 1977/78, we went from playing with bands like, UK Subs, Angelic Upstarts, The Ruts to suddenly playing on bills with Sex Gang, Virgin Prunes, Alien Sex Fiend etc and of course we played at the legendary Batcave in London. For me it all changed with the Cramps, Bauhaus and Killing Joke, that was the kind of sound Twisted Nerve had always been trying to do, a sort of tribal, gothic, punk thing. There are too many labels out there now, i dont know what half of them mean, we find ourselves playing with all different people these days, all very individual. We have recently played with the Damned, Stiff Little Fingers, the Rezillos, Gary Numan, Psychedelic Furs, Sex Gang Children, 1919.
We are Twisted Nerve and we stand alone, we have never been part of any scene or gang, we play our own music to the people who understand, everyone is welcome at our shows and that’s the way its always been. Obviously we play at a lot of what are called “gothic festivals,” but that’s still a very diverse mixture – we are most well known for the early eighties releases, 5 minutes of Fame, Eyes You Can Drown In and Seance, which I suppose could be described as having a kind of gothic sound. My own influences were the Banshees and the early Ants, the Slits, Buzzcocks etc. So there are a lot of different elements in TN and we love to play all the old songs live which is the important part. We have a Twisted Nerve Archive CD about to be released on BatcavePromotions records, 19 track history of TN, early next year we will be releasing the first new material TN cd since we disbanded in 1986.
Make sure to catch them September 15th in Oakland, CA @ Eli’s Mile High with other amazing bands as part of Near Dark Fest 2!