The Nursery are an alt-pop act based in the TO. They have released their debut album ‘Life After Wartime’ and have been on the road, at some of our fave spots including It Ain’t Hollywood and The Piston. The four-piece draw on, well pretty well everything thats gone before them - some New Pornographers, some Breeders, a little Pet Shop Boys, Bowie, Strange Advance, punk, pop, new wave, its a pop stew but its not a game of spot-the-influence. Rather the album just seems to be a confluence of curiosities.
Lead Alex Pulec volunteered some answers to some questions.
Q) Everybody’s Famous (except me) - is that a comment on the public at large, or do you want to be famous?
"Mainly a commentary on the public's behaviour. Instead of taking an elitist 'holier than thou' approach, I'm painting myself as none the better. Just another rat in the race, but this rat is starting to notice everybody acting really strange and hurting themselves chasing some dragon of fame and validation that doesn't exist."
Q) If its the former why do you think everyone wants to be famous?
"For the last few years it's become clear that we are socially rewarded by how much of our personal and private life we expose to the public. That’s thenew zeitgeist of popularity and fame within the digital social media landscape. Give up little pieces of yourself for some likes and attention. The deeper and more personal - the better. Stay private and you'll punished by the lack of engagement. Don't blame me, this is how the internet works!
"I do find this extremely problematic. To allow our personalities and characters to be shaped by our audiences is not only dangerous, but restricts our journeys to fully realize our own true identities. Once you notice a spike in liking or disliking something of yours - depending on your self confidence - don’t you think one will most likely bend and appease for the positive validation? Each little ding of a notification sets off reward sensors in our brains. It works in the same way gambling does, but we’re not using chips, we’re using our feelings and emotions. What happens when we run out of funds? Since it's so hard for young people to feel like they have a stake in this new strange world, I feel it's their way of feeling validated and in a way fighting away mortality. Again, I'm not above it."
Q) 'Hexes + Oh’s' has a cool Television vibe and there's the reference to Talking Heads in your album title and track, where does Post-Punk/ New Wave fit into your life as music makers?
"We have some pretty strong roots tied to Toronto's Punk, New Wave and Alternative music scene that kicked off around the late 1970's. I worked with Tony Malone (Drastic Measures/ Dishes) on some of The Nursery recordings and previous projects that he produced. Don Pyle from Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet worked on an early Nursery track and Gary Topp was one of the first people to give my band a shot and book our first gigs.
"We played with Carole Pope, Platinum Blonde, The Mods, Johnny and the G Rays and even The Viletones with the Nazi Dog himself! Topp, along with Gary Cormier, were the only local promoters putting on Punk/Alternative shows in Toronto back then. They used to book a club called The Edge which was Toronto's CBGB at the time. They were the only ones bringing in bands like XTC, Talking Heads, Ramones and Siouxsie and the Banshees when no one else would touch them. This was way before I was around making music obviously, but learning about the rich, homegrown, truly independent music culture my hometown had was a huge inspiration for me. It was incredibly exciting to be part of.
"As I learned more and more and started connecting in the scene, suddenly all my heroes, who seemed too far away and untouchable before, were right down the street. So I guess that whole period of independent alternative music really influenced my writing and seeped its way into my musical spirit."
Q) 'Timeless Eye' has a beauty cinematic feel - perhaps of the later Pet Shop Boys (Being Boring); tell me about the songwriting process of creating that track?
"It started out as such simple chord changes and a melody. Then we'd step back and build layer upon layer until finally the puzzle felt complete. When it's played on an acoustic guitar the simplicity really shines through. Still, we knew we wanted to take it to a much bigger immersive level where a listener can just submerge themselves into it's endless sounds dripping in and out of each other. Since the lyrics reference the cyclical nature of life and death it made sense to bring this originally simple idea to a deeper place. That feeling you get when you sit back in front of a huge screen and sound system in a theatre and become totally engulfed by the story, audio and visuals. That was driving us the whole time."
Q) I read in an interview you are fans of Timber Timbre and Bloodshot Bill - what is it about those cats you admire and is there an influence by them on what you are making?
"Both of them make such interesting sounds and compositions with seemingly so little. Timber Timbre sound as big as Ennio Morricone's vast orchestrations at times and Bloodshot Bill sounds bigger and more fierce than most bands with him only playing a guitar while smashing on two drums with his feet. It's amazing the energy Bloodshot Bill can create on his own. It's everything electrifying about punk music at its best. Both have incredibly unique voices that range between the beautiful and sweet to the intense and menacing. It's that diversity in the sound of a voice that drives me crazy. It makes me feel like there isn't anything between the singer and my ears and I'm totally drawn in. Opposed to being repelled from a overly produced pop voice."
Q) Lets talk about Life After Wartime - could be the most pertinent song title - given the uncertainty in the world - Why deal with that possible scenario at this time?
"I find a lot of folks right now are proclaiming about the end of the world. Whether it be via an evil forces uprising, artificial intelligence, aliens, disease, Trump, or our own internal divisiveness leading to a societal implosion. It's so hysterical and regressive. We're spending way too much time freaking out instead working towards laying a peaceful foundation to thrive as humans in this ever changing world. This song is fed up me going "Ok, so you're convinced it's gonna end? Well here it is. Ya blew it. This is how it'll be when it comes crashing down and this is my vision of the future". Songs like Mysteries, Digital Ashes, Empty Suitcases, Human Race and Life After Wartime are all chapters that make up that story. However, each track on therecord makes a commentary it's own way, but I won't get into specifics. Maybe this album is a story of a nihilist wanting to hit the reset button on the world. But I feel it's more of a cautionary tale to inspire keeping our shit together instead pulling the trigger on the world we inhabit."