The Nervous: The Mile-High City Punks Head to Europe & UK This Fall
Denver, Colorado is a landlocked city located several hundred miles from anywhere else a touring band would want to play. The hip kids in Denver are not punks— Americana, alt-country and twee-folk rock rules. So, when a Denver punk band busts through the bullshit and makes it out of the country, we must pay attention. THE NERVOUS are a Vicious/Gorilla Angreb/Masshysteri-style hardcore band with female vocals. They will be spending two weeks in Europe in November, including some dates in the UK. London, be on the lookout. Get out of Denver, baby, go!
Jennie (Vocals), Johnny (guitar) and Bryan (bass) talked to Heatwave about what it’s like to be a punk in “the mile-high city.”
Heatwave: You’ve all known each other for over a decade, attending the same shows and parties. The fact that two of you are a couple is particularly interesting. How does the marriage within the band influence what you do?
Bryan: I’m assuming the marriage you are referring to is Bunny & me. It makes carpooling to practice and shows easier, but we do have to find a house/dog sitter when we leave town.
Jennie: Ha ha, John and I have been married so long– pretty sure it has no effect. Bryan and Bunny are the complicated ones!
John: We have to find someone to watch the kids every time we play. We had to bring our kids on a portion of our West Coast tour ‘cause we had no one. Have some cool family in Seattle that helped us out. As far as the songs I write, no affect. But I’m pretty sure it affects Jennie’s lyrics from time to time.
Heatwave: Jennie is a nurse, John drives and delivers packages, Bryan does something with motorcycles and Bunny works in restaurants. You have pretty standard working-class punk jobs and still manage to tour. How do you balance touring with being an adult?
Jennie: You know what? Nursing is pretty punk! Thanks, I’ve been saying that for years. I’m lucky to have supportive in-laws to watch our kiddos and vacation time from work. As for being an adult, I’ll let you know when I get there!
John: It ain’t easy and I have to balance it with two bands. I have quite a bit of paid vacation time, but I have to pick my weeks for the whole year in November, so these two weeks have been in the works for a year. Sometimes, it doesn’t work out, but, most of the time, we make a tour happen during my time off. The rest are just long weekends and long drives to play 2 or 3 shows. Being an adult kinda sucks.
Bryan: The motorcycle shop I work at only employs 3 people total, so it definitely affects the business when I’m gone. So far, it’s been as simple as asking for (unpaid) time off well enough in advance, and it’s doubtful that we’ll ever be able to pull a tour longer than 2 weeks at a time. Luckily, my ex-wife gets it too and is super supportive, so I never have to find someone to watch my son the way Jennie & John do. I also live a pretty basic existence and can squirrel enough money away to do things like ride old motorbikes and play out-of-town shows here and there– you know, living the lifestyle of an 18 year old boy.
John: We’re lucky if we get any support. We’re pretty much on our own.
Heatwave: Three of you have kids. In a previous interview you mentioned practicing at home and bringing your kids on part of a tour. Are your kids interested in your music?
Bryan: My son is pretty ambivalent to most music (ours included). He really only likes a handful of bands: The Vicious, Cola Freaks, The Ramones and Blitz. Oh, and Weird Al, he loves Weird Al.
Jennie: Our boys like The Nervous better than Negative Degree [John’s other band].
John: Yeah, that’s true. I’ve been in bands for as long as I can remember, but things started getting hard when our first son was born. I had to quit a band I was in at the time with Bryan ‘cause I was having a hard time getting someone to watch my kid for practice and shows. I kinda decided, at that point, that any future bands had to practice at my house. So, to make it more attractive to bandmates, I built a practice space and filled it with all the gear so nobody has to haul anything. And, it has a stocked beer fridge, bam!
Heatwave: The song “Genital Panic” on your first 7” confronts the idea of being sexually objectified and bored by the person attracted to you. Is there a specific backstory there, or is it representative of a more general theme?
Jennie: “Genital Panic” is homage to an art exhibit I saw once in Paris. It was a collection of artists over several decades who challenged/redefined the notion of femininity. There were giant macramé vaginas, bathing beauties hula hooping with barbed wire on the beach, women in crotch-less jeans armed to the teeth and stalking porn theaters in Times Square, you know, stuff meant to make the average Joe Womanizer squirm in his “wifebeater.”
Bryan: Sex is boring anyway.
Heatwave: Denver, Colorado is your hometown—a place with many alt-country bands. What are the bastions of punk culture in Denver?
Bryan: Don’t forget our overabundance of Metal, too. I’ve had to sit through way too many grindcore bands over the years. That said, current crop of Denver bands (not necessarily “punk”) that I like are Chase Ambler, Negative Degree, Cheap Perfume (Colorado Springs), French Kettle Station, Barbed Wire (or is it Barb Wire?). As for the rest of punk culture here… not much to speak of. We have something like 5 goth nights per week at various clubs around the city, so that’s pretty great since I’m an excellent dancer.
Jennie: There are probably a lot of towns that would kill for our Goth scene right now. As for punk, we are in a drought. But that’s ok, because that makes us one of the only games in town!
John: The hardcore is definitely happening right now, getting some great bands coming through on a regular basis. There’s also plenty of punk bands, but with the kids it’s more of a street punk thing and with the oldsters it’s a bar punk thing. I think we’re just out of the loop in both cases.
Heatwave: Tell me about your upcoming 12”.
Bryan: We recorded it summer of 2014 with Stan at Buzz or Howl in PDX and pressed 100 test pressings to take with us to Europe, as it was the only way to get them in time for tour with record plants being backed up 6+ months (P.S. Fuck you, Record Store Day!). If any labels are interested in putting out the formal release, hit us up!
Jennie: I would like to second Bryan’s emotion of fucking Record Store Day.
John: We tried to tour Europe last year, but found out it was hard setting something up being from Denver and touring on only a 7”. I asked a friend of mine that plays in the Dutch band Dirty Protest if we could open, or just tag along their next Europe tour. He mentioned that I should email their drummer, Dennis, as he sets everything up. I decided to fly out and hang out with them for a while on their US tour to see how we got along and had a blast with everyone. They decided to only do one week and I had already taken the two weeks off, so Bryan emailed Kuudes Silmä about the other week and it all fell together.
Bryan: Kuudes Silmä played Denver last year (one of the few touring bands not to skip this town!) and I really love them. Just great moody darkwave punk. We started emailing them about setting up a show and they offered to join us for a week and book the gigs! Really looking forward to hanging out with them. Johnny’s the only one of us that has met Dirty Protest & Radio Bikini, but they’re Dutch punx, so we expect nothing short of sweetheart party animals.
Jennie: Can’t wait to hang with Kuudes Silmä again and meet Radio Bikini and Dirty Protest.
John: It’s gonna be fun, fun, fun!
Heatwave: John is known for being an avid record collector and, of course, you all like records. What records are you hoping to score in Europe? Any chance you will bring some of your collection to sell at the merch table?
John: Yeah, I like records… a lot. I’m more of a “whatever I find is what I score” kinda guy. Not bringing anything to sell, too heavy.
Jennie: Ha ha, being married to an avid record collector has killed any joy I might have had in scoring records. My records aren’t allowed to touch his. But, there is this one single I’ve been looking for– a wonderful, poppy, sappy song by the Pop Guns…
John: Thing is… my obsession with records, punk and hardcore records, is really an obsession with music. It’s why I have all these riffs floating around in my head and is why I also need to make music. See… joy, you’re welcome.
Bryan: I’m not a record collector. I just by records of bands I like and could give a fuck what pressing or variation they are. So I’m looking forward to playing with bands I’ve not heard of and buying their records. I’ll probably have some 25 Rifles 7”s to sell, haha. More importantly, I plan to consume and bring home mass quantities of candy & snacks– salted licorice, Kinder eggs, chocolate, frites, beer, Spaetzle, etc. Fingers crossed, this is the first tour I go on and don’t come home 5-10 pounds skinnier.
John: I only buy records by bands I like as well. It’s gonna be fun. And beer.
By Samantha Gladu
11/6 HELSINKI (FIN)@ Lepakkomies
11/7 TURKU (FIN)@ Rekisteri
11/8 STOCKHOLM (SE)@ Cyklopen
11/9 COPENHAGEN (DK)@ BumZen
11/10 HAMBURG (DE)
11/11 BERLIN (DE)
11/12 EINDHOVEN (NL)@ Crustbar
11/13 GENT (BEL)@ Den Bristol
11/14 LONDON (UK)@ The Dev
11/15 LEEDS (UK)@ Temple of Boom
11/16 GLASGOW (SCO)@ 13th Note
11/17 EDINBURG (SCO)@ Bannermans
11/18 GATESHEAD (UK)@Blackbull
11/19 BRIGHTON (UK)@ Prince Albert
11/20 EINDHOVEN (HOL)@ TBC
11/21 EINDHOVEN (HOL)@ Speedfest
Check them out: