“Bad Nerves is an adrenaline-fuelled injection, we’re the vaccine everyone’s been waiting for”.


By Tom Walsh

Jan 8, 2021 12:17

“I was going to turn up in shades”, Bobby Nerves says as he rolls a cigarette, “you know, do the whole rockstar thing.” He pauses before bursting into laughter and adds “I guess it doesn’t really work when I’m sitting in my childhood bedroom.”

It’s an exciting time for the affable Bad Nerves frontman; it’s the eve of the release of his band’s debut album. It’s a throwback blend of garage rock, taking its cues from their heroes – the Ramones, Buzzcocks and the Strokes – with a grenade of swagger and groove thrown in for good measure. It’s what he hopes triggers a revival of guitar music.

“I’ve finally got one through today,” he tells me excitedly, holding a Bad Nerves vinyl to the Zoom camera. “This is the only reason we started this band,” he adds. “We just wanted to write an album and print a vinyl, so it’s been a long time.”

Four years, a handful of EPs, and a hell of a lot of chaotic live shows, and Bad Nerves are finally making their mark. The self-titled record has all the hallmarks of the punk bands of the 1980s, right down to the cover which depicts their enigmatic frontman in full flight, submerged in a sweat-drenched venue with the band’s name emblazoning the border in a bright pink.

There is a scrappiness to their sound, even among the beefed up studio sheen that comes with producing a ready-for-radio LP. However, it’s that DIY aesthetic and intensity which Bobby sees as setting his band apart.

“It’s adrenaline-fuelled, no bullshit, rock and roll. And really, it’s just fun,” he explains. “Bad Nerves is all about an immediate hit, like an injection. We’re the vaccine everyone has been waiting for, you can get in the shape of our album and it’s going straight into your arms.”

He laughs, “everyone’s going to think I’m a dick now, aren’t they?”. 

There’s a great level of humility to the frontman. Shake and swagger characterise his on-stage persona, yet away from the crowds he’s sincere and speaks with an excited enthusiasm about his band, and others within their scene.

“You know [when playing a show], no-one’s there to hear me talk,” Bobby continues explaining his role as an almost reluctant rock star, “I’m not a public speaker. I don’t really like when the singer talks to the crowd loads, I find it a bit contrived. If you listen to Ramones’ ‘It’s Alive’ album, there’s no fucking around. And I don’t want to have to be fucking around talking to the crowd,” he laughs.

Bad Nerves’ style does indeed hark back to the first wave of UK punk spearheaded by the Sex Pistols and the Clash. It’s refreshing, it’s fun and it’s something that, in Bobby’s eyes, needs to be re-captured. Their song ‘Baby Drummer’ talks of the predictability and formulaic nature in which music finds itself now, “I guess, it’s just a reflection of how dull things are,” he tells me.

However, he namechecks the likes of IDLES and Fontaines D.C. who he believes are forging a path for “guitar” bands and laying down a blueprint for how artists of their ilk can succeed. He explains the fine line between wanting to retain a DIY ethos – the scruffy-garage band vibe – yet also creating something that could be picked up by Radio One.

“What they’re [IDLES] doing is pretty cool,” Bobby explains. “If there’s any hope of us ever snapping the kids out of this illusion that they can only listen to whatever’s crammed down their throat by daytime radios, we need to show support for these bands… also if IDLES could give us a shout out that’d be great too.”

The success of these bands fills the Bad Nerves frontman with hope, as someone who wants to see rock music to return to centre stage. While he believes that there has been a dearth of movements or scenes since the late-90s and early-2000s, there is always room for that to return, and he’s impressed with the next generation.

He tells me: “I saw this band called Scum at Leeds Festival, they were only like 14 or 15 and they played the most balls out, fast, scrappy punk, they didn’t give a fuck. That’s what we need. We need to build a platform so that other bands will see you can come through playing rock and roll.”

“People need to realise that picking up a guitar and writing a punk song is great, its three fucking chords, man, and you don’t even need to play or sing it that well, and its the best music,” he laughs. “Joey Ramone had the weirdest voice you’ve ever heard but look at what they did. That’s what we need.”

While he has grand designs on the music industry, Bobby’s goals for Bad Nerves are much more humble. “All I really want is to sell out tiny, 100-capacity venues. That’s all I want,” he beams. “Those tiny little sweatbox venues, if I could do that in the UK and Europe and have people come to gigs who really give a shit about music, I’ll be happy with that.”

The rockstar act may only begin the second he’s on stage but there’s an honesty about the simplicity of Bad Nerves’ goals. Filling venues, printing vinyls, and doing their utmost in keeping live music unpredictable, it’s fun and, really, it’s what it should always be about.


Bad Nerves’ debut self-titled record is out now on Surburban Records.

Read our review here.