Monday, May 29, 2017

Insufferable: Northern Noisecore

Scotland. The Nation that gave us (amongst other things) the Steam Engine, Television, but in more recent years the deliciously dark humour of Frankie Boyle and the music of Snow Patrol and Calvin Harris.

But beneath the country's more widely known musical exports lurks a darkened underbelly of audio butchers, hellbent on screaming their faces off while producing a din so wrathful that it could turn Proclaimers fans to stone.

Insufferable are one such entity, starting life as the solo noise project of Nick Waller before joining forces with drummer Matthew Ian (of Scottish noise outfit Deathwank) in favour of a more straight up grinding noisecore assault. 

The chaps have wasted no time in pushing out a seemingly never ending stream of releases and the last few months saw a retrospective compilation ‘The First 2 Years’ which documents the group’s evolution from solo project to fearsome duo, as well as ‘Survival’ (which you can listen to below) released on the Florida based imprint Fermented Bile Vomit Productions alongside God Pussy, Gets Worse and Pure Noise.

I caught up with Insufferable’s balaclava wearing guitarist, noise maker and vocalist Nick to find out more about the man behind the mask...

DMD: Growing up, what music were you into? 

Nick Waller: I listened to a lot of hard rock and heavy metal growing up, some punk and hip hop as well. Video games had a strong influence on my early music taste. 
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 introduced me to a lot of music I hadn't heard about before and opened my ears to a whole new world. Motörhead became my favourite band after I heard Ace of Spades for the first time.

DMD: How did you first discover harsh noise / experimental music? 

NW: I watched the 2007 remake of Funny Games and heard Naked City for the first time and was fascinated. This was around the time I had started listening to The Dillinger Escape Plan and other weird avant-garde stuff so it was right up my street. 
A couple of years later my best friend introduced me to the project Limbs Bin and my interest in harsh noise/experimental music grew further from there.

DMD: Tell us the epic tale of Insufferable!

NW: Well, my best friend and I were in a half-arsed powerviolence band called ‘Worst of It’ a few years ago and we had dabbled with some noise tracks after he introduced me to Limbs Bin's chaotic madness.

After some correspondence with Limbs Bin I felt inspired to have a go myself and using my friend's synth, Audacity and some other stuff I recorded a demo of the track that would end up becoming Fractured. 

Once I got the hang of it I spent time recording the Harsh Noise Violence EP and then went on to do a bunch of splits and some solo releases.

I didn't play a gig until nearly a year after I started the project, which wasn't just my first Insufferable gig it was my first gig ever. I played a few shows, organised a few more and continued to record but after hitting the two year mark I was starting to get fed up. 

After 120 something tracks I was getting tired of using a drum machine, synths, recordings and other electronic equipment but I didn't feel as though I had done everything I wanted to do with the project.

I knew Matty from shows we'd played together and I'd done some guest spots for Deathwank and he and I had practiced and written tracks together before for another project (which may or may not happen someday) so I asked him if he was interested in drumming for Insufferable. 

I dusted off my old guitar I bought when I was 16, we went to the practice space and recorded "Survival". At that point it was the most fun I'd ever had making music. Since then, we've done a few splits and put out some live recordings.

DMD: Who are your current favourite noisecore acts?

NW: My current favourite noisecore acts are Holy Grinder and pretty much any other project Andrew Cleveland is involved with, Goth Girl and Fake Flesh. Goth Girl recently released a collaboration that blew my mind actually! 

So good. Limbs Bin of course. Shitnoise Bastards as well. Matty's a big fan of Hazree, who has been really supportive of our releases as a duo. 

He recently released another version of "Survival" on his label Flyingkick Records. Penis Geyser. I've recently gotten into Developer, Skin Graft, No Dreams, and Plague Mother as well.

DMD: What gear did you use before and after Insufferable became a duo? 

NW: For most of the shows I played solo my accompaniment was backing tracks from my laptop that I screamed over, any shows I've played solo since becoming a duo I play noise tracks from my phone and manipulate them through my old Zoom G2.1u guitar pedal.

It's pretty punishing listening. I only occasionally use Matty's guitar pedal live or when we're recording, most times it's just my guitar through an amp.

DMD: What inspires you to write the music that you make?

NW: Insufferable has been a very cathartic experience for me, it's helped me come to terms with a lot of things that have plagued me mentally, kept me sane and stopped me from killing people haha! 

To be honest there not much of a filter on what can influence an Insufferable track. Generally it tends to be whatever or whoever is pissing me off at the time, but anything from an article or book to a good film I watched or video game I played can inspire a track. 

I feel like I'm constantly influenced, perhaps more than I realise, when I look back over the tracks they're kind of like an audio journal of where I've been and everything I was feeling during those times. I hear the track and it takes me right back to where I was in my head.

DMD: What is the scene like up in Scotland? Are you mates with the guys in Gendo Ikari?

NW: Very diverse and interesting if you look in the right places. There are a lot of really cool bands and projects all over Scotland. 

I only really know Chris (bassist) from Gendo Ikari, we've hung out a couple of times, but the rest of them I met for the first time when we played Leith Depot with them in April. They are awesome live.

DMD: What is the general feeling in Scotland post Brexit and post referendum?

NW: Most people I know voted Yes and also voted to remain in the EU. The feeling I get is that people are frustrated and very concerned about what lies ahead. I could be wrong.

DMD: What are your 15 favourite albums?

NW: In no particular order:
1. Cro-Mags - The Age of Quarrel 
2. Iron Lung - Sexless // No Sex
3. The Dillinger Escape Plan - Miss Machine
4. Crossed Out / Dropdead - Crossed Out / Dropdead split 5"
5. Metallica - ...And Justice for All
6. Converge - Jane Doe
7. Limb Bin - Primitive Response
8. Trash Talk - S/T
9. Black Flag - The First Four Years
10. Infest - No Man's Slave
11. Fuck On The Beach - Power Violence Forever
12. Charles Bronson -Youth Attack!
13. Punch - Push Pull
14. Witch Cult - South Coast Powerviolence
15. Man Is The Bastard - Mancruel

DMD: Here’s a question for your skinsman Matthew…who are your top 5 favourite drummers of all time?

Matthew Ian: Booze Joogler Smith, Shit Noise Hazree, Biffy Ben, Big Phil, Animal

DMD: What do you do when you’re not making music?

NW: University takes up a lot of my time, I'm currently in my honours year of a criminology and psychological studies degree and I'm doing it through the Open University so I'm responsible for managing everything. 

I try to catch local gigs or gigs relatively close by when I can, I work weekends so it's usually shows on Thursdays and Sundays. I draw or paint when I can. 

I've recently been rewarding myself after revision is done for the day by chilling and playing video games. Something I've kind of had to force myself to do believe it or not haha. It used to be I couldn't wait to play my Xbox but now a lot of the time I have to force myself to sit down and play and shut off my brain for a while. 

I don't really know what Matty gets up to besides working and buying soundtrack vinyls haha!

DMD: Why do you guys wear balaclavas when performing live?

NW: Matty doesn't wear a balaclava when we play, I just got him to do it for that one photo haha. I think he got sick of wearing them due to playing in Deathwank. 

For me, the balaclava helps me get fully in to the performative side of Insufferable. I feel more at home in that mask screaming like a lunatic than I do when I'm not wearing it, being a socially awkward/anxious weirdo.

All the horrible, ugly, thoughts and feelings get let out and none of the other bullshit going on matters. 

The only focus is what's going on in that moment. I chose red because it's my favourite colour but also because back in the solo days of Insufferable I was inspired visually and somewhat sound wise by the video game Manhunt.

I really liked the uncomfortable vibe of it. As much as I love the Smileys, the Hoods had a more practical look so I went for the red balaclava.

DMD: How did you end up on Fermented Bile Vomit Productions?

NW: They had previously put out physical copies of a split that I had done with NoiseMasochist that I was happy with, and I also saw the quality of their subsequent releases and knew I had to work with them again. 

"Survival" means a lot to me and it was important to me that we release it physically in the best quality we could get. 

Arron and I have a good rapport and he's very understanding and did everything he could to make the release look how I wanted it to. I can't recommend this label enough. The CDs are great and the upcoming tapes look awesome as well.

DMD: What does 2017 hold for you guys?

NW: For me, 2017 has been the year to just go for it, write and record as much as we can, play as many shows as we can, play outside of Scotland, do splits with some of our favourite projects/bands. We have another release in the works which is sounding pretty banging! 

It's funny because I was incredibly unwell when we recorded it, I felt like dog shit and I honestly thought the recordings were going to suck but it's probably some of the best stuff we've written so far. We also have a couple of splits in the works as well.

You can listen to ‘One Bad Day’ from the upcoming Insufferable release ‘Endless Affliction' here:

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