What is your name and role within USA Nails?
I’m Steven and I play the guitar and sing in USA Nails.
Where are you currently based?
We’re based in London.
In the last 6 months you have released your third album (shame spiral), a 7″ on too pure records and an EP on tape, where and when did you record?
We have recorded all three of our albums and the Too Pure 7″ with Wayne Adams at Bear Bites Horse in Dalston, East London. Wayne is a top bloke, very relaxed and totally gets where we are coming from musically. The songs on the 7″ were recorded at the same time as Shame Spiral and were originally intended for the album. Recording took place in Summer 2016 and it was very hot in the studio, especially for Matt, the drummer. We recorded the instruments live and the vocals were added later, along with some additional guitars to bulk some sections up.
I recorded the tracks for the Sell Sell Sell tape at our rehearsal room at Old Street. It was recorded using an old Yamaha cassette four track. I was super keen on recording something more lo-fi and less polished as I was listening to a lot of early The Fall records. The drums and bass were recorded together and then Gareth and I added guitars and a crappy Casio keyboard. The vocals were recorded at home through an unnamed delay unit which was manipulated during the tracking.
Did you record on analogue or digital and why?
The album session was done digitally. Digital recording is great on one hand as you can edit any mistakes or piece takes together but on the other hand it can make you become over clinical. Personally I love to hear imperfections and bum notes, the artist’s hand so to speak, as they give character to the recordings. The tape was recorded analogue, it’s a much simpler process and one that I enjoy more as you tend not to mull over decisions as much.
How have the vinyl and tape been received by fans?
I think they have gone down well, though I don’t really know.
Why did you choose to release in the nice vintage traditional way?
The format choices are down to a few factors, aesthetics and cost. We chose tape for the EP as we were self releasing it through our SAD Tapes label and funds are limited. Also, I grew up copying cassettes from the library and making mix tapes for friends and loved making my own sleeves. Cassette tapes to me signify a DIY, homemade edge, something that runs hand in hand with Punk aesthetics and ethos. I also grew up listening to my Dad’s record collection, mostly Bowie and Hendrix, and often saw him listening on headphones and reading the lyric sheets. Music now seems more disposable. Records and cassettes demand concentration and commitment. CDs and streaming services are convenient, especially for the listener but they do undermine the artist’s decisions on running orders that shape the mood and ebb and flow of a record as a whole.
What or who influences your sound?
Generally we are a sort of Punk band, so we aim for a harsh and immediate sound. I guess a lot of our sound is defined by our choices on equipment, such as guitars and effects pedals.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I recently bought the Liquid Liquid back catalogue. The B52s first album and Wire’s Chairs Missing and 154 also get played lots. Flipper’s Album is amazing too.
You’ve also release another split 7″ on learning curve records in the USA, please tell us a little about how this release came together?
I think they approached us. It seemed like a great opportunity as we hadn’t released any music in America. The label has a great reputation also. We ended up using two of the songs from the cassette as it had quickly sold out.
You have tours planned in the new year in Europe and beyond, where are you planning to visit and what do you have planned for these shows?
We are touring France and Spain around Easter with Blacklisters, who I play bass with. We have haven’t played Spain yet so that should be fun. We have some other dates in February but we need to keep them quiet for the moment.
I hear that you’re writing songs for another EP and album which will hopefully be recorded by spring and autumn 2018 respectively, can you give us an idea of the direction the music / vibe will be going with these new tracks?
We have six songs written for a new EP, which we will be recording early January. It will be recorded the same way we recorded the Sell Sell Sell cassette and probably released on tape again. We will be using a drum machine as we fancied a little change and our drummer, Matt, has recently moved home to Leeds.
How did USA Nails form?
Not sure exactly but I join last, just singing. Then Stu, our singer left so I moved to guitar. I had known Matt for years through our connections with Brew Records, the Leeds based label. The others used to go to gigs and promote gigs around London, all involved in the same scene.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
Hot and Sour Soup and home.