RVA No. 12: The Nervous Ticks

by | Mar 25, 2013 | MUSIC

The Nervous Ticks play Rock and Roll. I’m talking about out and out, bloody knuckles on guitar, manic depressive, James Dean driving a Mercury off a cliff in a teenage death race Rock and Roll. Their sound combines the flagrant intensity of hardcore punk with a maniacal juke-joint-on-fire Southern stomp that has become their calling card in the Richmond music scene. Any show that the Nervous Ticks play is sure to be a sweaty, beer-swilling, vocal-cord lacerating, and eardrum-destroying affair, fueled by the band’s intense, irrepressible energy. Even on their recordings, their chaotic, jangling guitar sounds like its being beaten to death over a pounding Ramones-style Cro-Magnon beat that evokes everything primal and fundamental about the power and ethos of punk rock music.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE NEW ISSUE OF RVA MAGAZINE!


The Nervous Ticks play Rock and Roll. I’m talking about out and out, bloody knuckles on guitar, manic depressive, James Dean driving a Mercury off a cliff in a teenage death race Rock and Roll. Their sound combines the flagrant intensity of hardcore punk with a maniacal juke-joint-on-fire Southern stomp that has become their calling card in the Richmond music scene. Any show that the Nervous Ticks play is sure to be a sweaty, beer-swilling, vocal-cord lacerating, and eardrum-destroying affair, fueled by the band’s intense, irrepressible energy. Even on their recordings, their chaotic, jangling guitar sounds like its being beaten to death over a pounding Ramones-style Cro-Magnon beat that evokes everything primal and fundamental about the power and ethos of punk rock music.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE NEW ISSUE OF RVA MAGAZINE!

After years of lineup changes revolving around central member and songwriter Chaz Tick, the band has evolved from a bedroom tape recording project into a live show powerhouse driven by the addition of percussionist/ backing vocalist Liza Jane and drummer Kyle Flanagan, who have both brought an added level of intensity to the band’s unconventional rhythm section comprised of maracas, tambourines, and a minimal drum kit featuring an upturned washtub.

Following their self released Death to Videodrome tape and several regional tours, the Nervous Ticks have begun receiving a lot of attention and accolades from listeners locally and overseas. Shortly after the November release of their debut 7” Badlands/Trash Talk vinyl single on Italy’s Goodbye Boozy Label, I got in touch with Nervous Ticks singer and guitarist Chaz Tick to talk about the band’s Southern-fried brand of subversive destruction.

How did the Nervous Ticks start off?

In early 2009, I was in a weird headspace and trying to feel somewhat normal again after getting cleaned up from some real nasty habits. Mostly I just sat alone in my room trying to teach myself guitar every day, and ate too much ephedrine (laughs)–don’t judge. Jared was over one day and was showing me how to use my four-track when he offered to play drums on some recordings.

If I were to describe your sound as the ghost of Howling Wolf on methamphetamine, would you think that was accurate? How would you describe your music?

I guess so. I’m not that into Chicago stuff though. Or meth, really. I usually just describe it as fast and thrashy garage punk and let people bring to it what they want.

You all seem to tour the Deep South a lot–what draws you down to that region?

Well, we have more friends there, for one. I love the landscape and the people. We don’t relate as well to Northerners for some reason, and sometimes it seems that people up North see our music as affected, whereas people from the South don’t think it’s unconventional to use blues and Americana influences.

Do you consider your music Southern in its nature?

Sure. All of my biggest influences are very Southern in terms of both subject matter and guitar playing. Oblivians, Hasil Adkins, the Gun Club…

I’ve noticed that the washtub drum that you all use for your kit has been getting more and more caved in every time I see you all perform. Will there ever come a time where it gets retired, or do you feel like it’s an integral part of the band’s sound?

Kyle beats that thing to hell. We got a new one recently, though. The washtub [is] definitely a part of our sound; that’s what I played on when it was just me and the four track. I found one in the trash and was going to make a washtub bass, but got lazy, and I didn’t have a snare, and was also broke. I guess I don’t think about it anymore. Also I like it because it’s sharper than a snare.

How did you all get hooked up with Goodbye Boozy for the Badlands 7 inch release?

He emailed us. My guess is he read a review of the tape somewhere. I was pretty incredulous because I’ve been following that label for a long time. But he was really nice and really easy to work with.

It seems like there has been a really strong response to the new vinyl record. How have you all reacted to the sudden burst of attention you’ve been getting from overseas?

It was really weird to think that a bunch of Europeans were into our stuff! A sense of “I don’t know you; how do you know our band?” But it was a small pressing, only 240 [copies], so it’s not like I’m letting it go to my head, and it’s not like life or being in a band is somehow easier now. Hopefully it’ll make booking tours easier, but I guess I’ll find that out soon. We’re punks at heart. We crave not fleeting attention nor worldly riches.

The Ticks have gone through a number of lineups since you started, but with the recent addition of Liza and Kyle it seems like you’ve really hit your stride. How has the new line up changed the way the band works?

The new lineup makes things go a lot smoother! Both Kyle and Liza are super-talented, and working with them is great. Kyle is also the first drummer we’ve had who has been solid enough a percussionist to improvise, which is cool. All the old drummers were more songwriters who dabbled in drums.

Working with Liza on vocals is a lot different than it was with Boney Loner [former percussionist and vocalist, now of the Sacred Teachers], because I’m in a relationship with her. If we fight over band stuff, we still have to go home together. So there’s more of an incentive to compromise and work around each other’s abilities, and shit like that. I think the end product comes out a lot better, because there’s more of us in it. And there’s probably a more interesting dynamic, because we’re in love and have all these weird feelings all the time.

Do you feel like there has been a rock and roll revival lately in Richmond?

I sure hope so! For all Richmond prides itself on its music scene, that’s something we were about five years behind on. I think a lot of the resurgence just has to do with all of us getting together and working towards a common goal, instead of getting jammed on [shows with] indie or hardcore [bands] and everybody going it alone. And there are some great bands that are starting up, like Olde Shame.

What are some of the bands you all have been playing with, locally and around the country, that have been influencing you?

Locally, probably Warren Hixson and various metal bands. I’m really into the way vocals are phrased in metal music–[those] are big influences right now. Around the country–and we haven’t played with all these bands–I’m really into Paint Fumes, GG King, Tyvek, Haunted George, and Roman Gabriel Todd’s the Beast Rising Up Out of the Sea. Hearing GG King’s Esoteric Lore LP made me feel a lot better trying to incorporate metal influences in garage punk; hearing that there is a way to make it work, although they sound a lot different from us.

On the song “Videodrome” you draw from the film of the same name for the lyrics. Is it a similar case for the song “Badlands”? What draws you toward the subject matter for your songs?

“Videodrome” was actually penned during the height of the Occupy movement. I couldn’t help but feel that a lot of people were using Occupy as an opportunity to push their own agendas, under protection of a general spirit of progress. It’s the same thing that happens to James Woods in the movie; he’s getting pushed by both nefarious sides to do nefarious things, except one is pretty clearly evil, and one uses its image as good to do evil. “Badlands” is about how sometimes you just get so mad at somebody that you know in your heart that you want to kill them. But in order to live among human society, we have to bury these impulses, even when we are convinced that in some cases death is the answer. The lyrics are pretty vague and it’s always bothered me. So I guess to answer your question, our songs are mostly about all different shit, although it’s basically whatever I’m feeling at the time. And most tend to be autobiographical, about stuff that bothers me. A lot of times I’m just influenced by stuff I read or see that sticks with me.

What is the strangest genre you’ve heard your band called?

The ghost of Howlin’ Wolf on methamphetamines? We hear a lot of: blues punk, trash punk, fuzz punk, garage punk, and any combination of those. As long as “punk” is in there, I’m happy. People compare us to a lot of weird things, and it’s strange how often they can pick out music I listen to a lot that I didn’t think bled into our songs.

You all put on really high energy performances. What makes a good show in your opinion?

Whether or not a band looks like they’re having fun. You’re supposed to be entertainers, you know? I think you definitely owe the audience something just for showing up. Whether it’s two people or two hundred shouldn’t matter. One time at Don Pedro [on tour], we screwed up the booking, so it was just us and Eurotics playing and no locals. We fully expected to just hang out behind the establishment the whole time and not even play. But then these five dudes at the bar that we had never seen before kept yelling for the Nervous Ticks! That was one of my favorite shows we’ve ever played. Those guys went wild, and we played every song we knew and some we didn’t. We were just so happy that they were there and so genuinely excited about something so silly as punk rock. Also, when a band can just be their dorky selves instead of feeling like they have to act like assholes on stage. I like that. You’re musicians–we already know you’re dorks. It’s OK.

What are the band’s plans for the next year?

The 7″ EP for “Videodrome” and some other songs from the tape is due out in late February. We’re gonna go on a two-week tour for that. That’ll finish the stuff from the tape, and we’ll record some of the newer stuff with the new lineup soon. There’s talk of a split 7″ with Buck Biloxi and the Fucks, from New Orleans. I had a real busy last year with school and couldn’t find the time to be very prolific. I’m hoping to change that next year now that I’ve finally finished.

thenervousticks.bandcamp.com

Matt Ringer

Matt Ringer

A meat popsicle.




more in music

RVA Mag’s Black Friday Richmond Music Video Roundup

We get sent a lot of music videos by local groups here at RVA Mag. And of course, since we are always trying to keep track of what’s happening in the local music scene, we stumble across a whole bunch of videos on our own time. The result is an ever-growing list of...

RVA Shows You Must See This Week November 23 – November 29

FEATURED SHOW Saturday, November 26, 8 PM Holy Roller (Photo by Joey Wharton), Chris Leggett & The Copper Line, Drew Foust @ The Camel - $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE) That extended end-of-year season known as "The Holidays" has officially...

Noise, Cosplay, and Body Horror: The Rise Of ROTWL

In my role as the general tracker of upcoming shows in and around the Richmond area, I hear about a whole lot of bands that are active in Virginia -- sometimes from the moment they play their very first show. Over the past eight years of show-column-writing, I've seen...

Strumming in the Underground: Richmond’s House Show Scene

Sometime in late 2018 I was at a house show to see one of my favorite local bands, Plastic Nancy. There must have been over a hundred people packed into a tiny living room, with bodies spilling into the kitchen and outside onto the back deck. Sweat and smoke mixed...

Vision Video: 80s Postpunk With A Modern Flair

Anyone who loves post punk or any other kind of alternative music can vividly tell you how it felt the first time that they heard a song written in that vein. The first time that they heard The Cure or Joy Division, or the first time that they heard the end trails of...

Singer Songwriter Casey Graham And Midlife Pilot

Casey Graham continues to evolve as a singer songwriter and his current project Midlife Pilot is one of my favorite things happening in Richmond, VA right now. Throw in the mix in his outstanding concert photography and music video work and you have a creative machine...

Topics:

Pin It on Pinterest