Interview with The Nervebreakers: Punk is not dead

Talking about The NerveBreakers involves placing ourselves in the mythical 70’s and 80’s American punk panorama. And it involves reminding that this band has supported other important groups as The Clash, Sex Pistols, Police or Ramones. Even with that brief presentation we are able to imagine that their musical adventure was more than a fleeting one. After 35 years of success and a live album released in 1979 with the Texas psych legend Rocky Erickson (« Roky Erickson and The Nervebreakers Live at the Palladium ») they decided to take a rest and come back again this year releasing an anthology album with Get Hip Recordings containing their  main greatest hits. They started in Dallas in 1975 covering some songs of Sex Pistols and Ramones and after achieving a warm success and reaching a wide audience, they started to work in their own songs. One example of their hymns is “My girlfiend is a rock” who turned into a punk hit of that time. Owners of the traditional punk seed and being influenced by bands as The Stooges or MC5, their music is a blend of the powerful punk chords with the most melodic and psychedelic rock sounds of the 60’s. This year the five core members of the band  (the vocalist Thom “T. Tex” Edwards, the guitarists Mike Haskins and Barry « Ko0da » Huebner, the bassist Bob Childress and the drummer Carl Giesecke) have trusted the garage-punk label Get Hip Recordings (set in Pittsburgh) to launch this brilliant compilation of songs called “Hijack the Radio” and enliven their musical roots after their temporary break-up. This album has a double aim : making the youngest punk-rock fans discovering the band and the pioneer sounds of this movement and for the old ones, remind them how good The Nervebreakers were and still are because they are stronger than ever. They are preparing a new work of never recorded before material with Get Hip Recordings called “Face Up to Reality”, which will be released next year.

Due to the release of this great Anthology album I had the chance to talk with the singer and frontman of The Nervebreakers: Thom “T. Tex” Tex Edwards. And here is what he told us about the band’s story, influences, the aforementioned album and his professional plans for the future.

 

- How did the Nervebreakers come up? Tell us a bit about your beginnings.

I worked in a record store when I got outta high school, which is where I met Mike. We were in a couple of earlier bands together in the early 1970′s (Diamonds Forever & The Idiots), and eventually in ’75 or so, the Nervebreakers came about. We played wherever we could scrounge up a gig. We used to have a joke that we had played every rock club in town, ONCE. What we were doing didn’t fit in with their normal scenes, so we weren’t invited back. We had a small, growing group of friends that would attend some of our shows. But it wasn’t until we opened for The Ramones in ’76, that a real “proto-punk scene” developed when all the similarly-minded outcasts from all over the whole North Texas-area finally met up with each other & realized we weren’t alone.

- Which are your main musical influences?

I had an older brother, so my first influences when I was real young were his Elvis, Chuck Berry and Jimmy Reed records. Then I grew up on the British Invasion-period stuff. My favorites were always The Kinks, The Zombies, The Yardbirds, and of course, The Stones. Later in high school, I got into early Alice Cooper, The Stooges, The Move, The Velvets, and REALLY got back into The Kinks again. After that, I worked in the record store & got exposed to all kinds of music, and broadened my horizons considerably. The older guys in the store turned me onto all kinds of blues, folk, jazz, and prog. But my first love was always basic rock’n roll, so the glam thing came along about then, and I got into that.

- At the 80′s The Nervebreakers came to a standstill period. When did you decide to stop playing? What triggered your return to the stages? 

Mike & Bob quit in 1980 after we recorded the WE WANT EVERYTHING! album, but we replaced them and kept it going a little while longer. But it never was quite the same, so the whole thing fell apart by mid-1981 or so. In the following years, a few of us moved away and then moved back to Dallas eventually. Once we were all back in town, we did a couple of one-off re-union shows locally in the 1990′s. By 2007, there was starting to be some interest again in the old first wave of Texas punk, so we started talking amongst ourselves about doing something again.

- You have released an anthology with Get Hip Recordings. How was the experience of working with this record label? What can we find in this anthology “Hijack the Radio”? Present it us a bit.

Last year (2012), Get Hip issued HIJACK THE RADIO! An anthology of mid to late 70s studio recordings, some of which ended up on the Nervebreakers’ late-70′s 7″ vinyl releases on Wild Child Records, some on the 1979 Texas punk LP compilation ARE WE TOO LATE FOR THE TREND? (ESR Records), some on a volume of Italian label Rave Up Records series of American Lost Punk Rock Nuggets, and others that have up-to-now never been publicly released. Includes the original (and best) hit recording of “My Girlfriend Is A Rock”, the title anthem “Hijack The Radio”, and punk classics like “Why Am I So Flipped?”, “I Wanna Kill You”, and “I Love Your Neurosis”. Also included are proto-punk psych-y gems like “My Life Is Ruined” and “Beyond The Borderline”. The CD release has four additional CD-only bonus cuts including an early (different from the WE WANT EVERYTHING LP) take on the Troggs’ great “Strange Movies”, an original 1977 demo version of “Hijack The Radio”, and from 1975, a moody slice of Syd Barrett-like proto-punk-psych called “See Me Thru”.

-I’ve read you’re preparing new material with Get Hip Records. This new material is about new compositions? Are you planning a confinement in the studio for recording new things?

We had a bunch of original songs we had never documented and recorded properly back in our original incarnation. So around 2007, we decided to get back together, go in the studio and record them for a new album. We worked on that in our spare time for a year or so and that album (called FACE UP TO REALITY) will finally be released by Get Hip Records later this year.

- After supporting mythical bands as Ramones, Sex Pistols or The Clash, what did you learn from these experiences? How did influence in your sound/music?

Mainly, you just learn how to transition your sound & act to a much larger room & stage, in front of alot more people. It’s still just as fun, but in a different way.

- What is the best that The Nervebreakers have still to offer?

After the FACE UP album, look for a second anthology volume, with more uncollected & unreleased studio material from back in the 1970′s. Probably an album of live recordings from back-in-the-day will follow that. Beyond that, who knows?

-Any tour plans?

Kind of doubtful for the Nervebreakers, I am about the only guy in the band who still goes out & plays in a working band on a regular basis. But I have a new band called Purple Stickpin with Danny Hoekstra (ex- Sons of Hercules), and we are trying to put together some overseas gigs for the fall of 2013, after the Purple Stickpin album we are currently recording is finished & released. We usually include a few Nervebreakers tunes in our live set.

 

Don not forget to check their BANDCAMP and listen to one of their greatest HITS: “My girlfriend is a rock”

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Graduated in Business by Universidad de Oviedo and Liverpool John Moores University and a melomaniac. After my one year stay in the musical city par excellence, Liverpool, I started to associate myself with this artistic field in a deeper way, singing and playing the guitar in bands like Autotan, Seven Tin Stars and in my solo project with Nacho Iglesias, and collaborating in musical and cultural magazines as Mondo Sonoro and Revista FSHN. But not only is music my passion. Cinema, literature, travelling, photography and gastronomy make my life a bit sweeter within this grey world that is my current and remunerated job: accountant in the Engineering Company Grupo TSK.