Melodeath meets sludge meets black’n’roll in the music of these Scouse oddballs
Liverpool-based quintet Video Nasties have done incredibly well for themselves. Despite only having publicly released two songs since their inception in 2017, they’ve already conquering the Desertfest London stage at this year’s iteration of the festival. The band consist of members from past favourites from their hometown’s heavy music underground, with names from The Bendal Interlude, Iron Witch, Magpyes and SSS all coming together to forge something totally different. Their sound combines influences of the ’90s Gothenburg melodic death metal scene with the groove and sludge of the NOLA scene, with a sprinkle of black’n’roll absurdity thrown in for good measure. Their love of classic gory horror films is also a big part of their sound and aesthetic, so we at Astral Noize were keen to find out more.
Initially meeting in Camden’s Blue Rose sex shop by the band’s request, our chat with guitarist Stuart Taylor and bassist Rick Owen is soon taken elsewhere as a confused and stone-faced shop owner politely kicks us out…
When did Video Nasties end up getting together?
Stuart: It came about from the end of The Bendal Interlude…
Rick: We shared a practice room, Iron Witch and Bendal. Me and Stu would jam stuff in our spare time and we’d get fucked together and hang out loads. So when Bendal folded it made sense, as they still wanted to do something and I was looking for something else to do, something a bit different from Iron Witch, so it kind of made sense.
Stuart: We thought it would be a combination of our previous efforts, but it came out quite a lot different. It started with the Swedish influence…
Rick: You can still hear a bit of Bendal in it and that groove, which comes from [Stuart’s] guitar playing.
Stuart: I think we found our feet with ‘Transvoltum’, the first single we did.
How would you describe your sound in your own words?
Rick: It’s somewhere between Carcass and Kvelertak, with a bit of Sepultura thrown in. And obviously John Carpenter!
Stuart: We’re more influenced by ’90s metal.
Rick: The horror thing wasn’t quite at the forefront when we started, but Damien’s lyrics are quite dark. His lyrics paired with the ’80s melodic bits, with a sort of U2, The Smiths kind of vibe. But I hate Bono!
Stuart: It’s more in the dynamics and the guitar parts. We like jingly jangly ’80s guitar riffs!
There are a lot of incredible extreme bands coming out of Liverpool (Coltsblood, Conan, Corrupt Moral Altar, Dawn Ray’d and Dragged Into Sunlight to name a few) but we keep hearing it’s a difficult scene there with gig venues closing. How would you describe Liverpool’s heavy scene?
Rick: There are people trying to do stuff, but there aren’t many venues and it’s quite cliquey. Everyone are friends, but if you have a punk gig, only a fraction of people will turn up who listen to punk, and then the same with metal, half the friendship group will go to that. You get the odd magical gig where everyone turns up to it, but mostly it’s very cliquey.
We see a lot of Liverpool bands coming to Manchester to play shows instead…
Stuart: Yeah definitely, which says more about Liverpool really, it’s always been difficult. For a city that has built it’s name on good music, it’s kind of up and down really.
Rick: It has good spells, and then it will die off a bit. But it seems like there is a younger crowd coming through; I don’t know if they’re students or if they’re from Liverpool, but it seems to be picking up now. Every now and then you see new promotion companies popping up and trying to do things. There’s still an underground scene going. I think the main issue is that promoters are being priced out by venues because there is no in-between. You’ve got 80-100 venue capacity venues, and then you’ve got this huge void up where the next one up is 500 capacity, and there is nothing between, which is a bit of an issue. I think the city is going through quite an upheaval as well. There is a really cool district called the Baltic Triangle, where loads was happening, venues popped up, but now there are flats being built and people losing their licences. Joe Anderson, the mayor, is basically a bit of a prick!
Well we hope he sees this interview then!
Stuart: He knows…
Video Nasties are deeply inspired by retro horror. Do you feel that metal and horror go hand in hand?
Rick: Definitely, yes. I’ve been into zombies since I was a teen and bands like Send More Paramedics, The Nerve Agents and horror punk.
Stuart: We’re not doing any gimmicky stuff, it’s just our love of horror stuff can cross over with the tunes. We’ve got our little kind of look.
How many of the video nasties [a list of horror films banned in the UK] have you seen?
Rick: I think there are about 70 of them but I don’t think I’ve seen that many of them to be fair, maybe a third if that. Early ’70s Italian horror is where it’s at.
Stuart: Bay Of Blood! Tenebrae! [Dario] Argento is really our scene, especially with the imagery and the lighting. When we started we liked the lighting with the purple and blue.
Rick: We experimented with like pink and blue looks but it kind of looked a bit too disco!
Stuart: We’re very much like John Carpenter. The video for ‘Transvoltum’ was inspired by Prince Of Darkness.
Rick: The album has a little surprise that reveals more…
So what can you tell us about your forthcoming album?
Stuart: We recorded it ourselves and then sent it off to [Tom] Dring to mix it [at Vagrant Studios]! We borrowed a few mics and gear here and there from the band Space. We just got the masters back and we’re very, very happy with it.
Rick: It’s got some songs… some riffs… some music!
Stuart: We custom made it for ourselves, so for us it sounds amazing, and we hope everyone else feels the same.
Rick: We’re still looking for the right label to put it out.
How does it feel to be playing Desertfest London and which bands are you excited to see?
Rick: It feels amazing to be here.
Stuart: It’s an absolutely amazing vibe and scene. We’ve both played here in our past bands a few times.
Rick: So far we’ve only seen a few bands. RIP were pretty fun, quite similar to what we’re doing in a way but a different style of music.
Stuart: Yeah very energetic, with a kind of Freddie Mercury singer, very daft but good!
Rick: We’re looking forward to seeing Amenra and The Secret.
Stuart: We just want to get through the festival without dying, we’ve been hammering it pretty hard; I’m ready for bed already!
Video Nasties’ debut album is coming soon to a theatre near you!
Words: Chris “Frenchie” French
Photography: Abi Coulson (@darktonesphotography)