Interview: Nasty Party, raw, passionate, and unapologetic

Nasty Party

Nasty Party is the British-Australian duo that has been making waves in the music industry with their unapologetic and socially conscious sound, and we were fortunate enough to sit down with them for an in-depth discussion on their inspirations and creative process.

Nasty Party is making waves in the music industry with their raw and unapologetic sound that draws on classic foundations and contemporary production.  This band is an undeniable powerhouse that demands attention, thanks to their fiery and socially conscious lyrics, coupled with their dynamic and electric stage presence, making for a must-see experience. Join us as we sit down with the talented members of Nasty Party in a long-distance interview to discuss their inspirations and creative process.

In the heart of the East End of London, Simon describes his suburb as a mix of estate boys, young professionals, proper Cockneys, and people curious to see if the suburb is as bad as everybody says it is. Rhys, who lives in Sydney, has worked from home since the Covid-19 pandemic, finding it isolating at times but cherishing the benefits of bottomless cups of tea and a dictator-like grip on the Aux cord.

Nasty Party

The band draws inspiration from Midnight Oil and believes that they are a band born out of necessity, feeling that not enough bands engage in important themes.

During the interview, the duo shared some interesting insights into their creative process and musical influences, revealing that they draw inspiration from a wide range of genres, including rock, pop, jazz, and classical music. One of the band’s signature elements is their use of intricate harmonies and vocal layering, which gives their music a rich, textured sound. The band members also discussed their love of performing live and their commitment to putting on a great show for their fans.

At the heart of it all is the band’s undeniable chemistry and tight musicianship. Whether they’re playing new wave punk or high-energy punk-rock, they always seem to be in perfect sync with one another, creating a sound that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

It’s hard not to love the contagious energy and catchy melodies that are a hallmark of their music. With their socially conscious lyrics, tight musicianship, and commitment to putting on a great show, it’s clear that Nasty Party is a force to be reckoned with.

Happy: What are you up to today?

Rhys (Sydney): I’m bidding for a super modified iPod on EBay. It can fit weeks of music on it. It’s always good to have some backup music to listen to in case the internet blows up. 

Happy: Tell us about your suburb, what do you love/not love about where you live:

Simon (London): I live in the heart of the East End of London. Proper Cockney Central. It’s like what Marrickville or Newtown used to be in the 2000’s – but light-years tougher. I’m on the border of Hackney – a true thoroughbred London borough. Walking through there’s a mix of estate boys (who you know are getting up to no good at night), young professionals living in a slowly gentrified suburb, proper Cockneys and people just curious to come this far East to see if it’s as bad as everybody says it is. There are drug deals happening while I’m walking to the shops to get some milk, families scooting home from school and amazing weekend markets in the massive Victoria Park at the end of my street. It’s everything at once. The complete opposite of Sydney. Loads of different cultures all existing in one place. And I’ve never been hassled. It feels like what a suburb should be. 

Happy: Describe your average work day. 

Rhys : Ever since Covid 19, I’ve worked from home most days. Obviously this has various benefits like bottomless cups of tea and a dictator-like grip on the Aux cord. However, it can be a bit isolating at times, I probably have less everyday interactions with people nowadays. I suspect I’ve become a little bit too comfortable in my own bubble. This is definitely detrimental for creativity as you can potentially lose your perspective on things.

I remember after work walking to the train on Friday afternoons… there was always that spirit you could just feel in the air. The weekend party good vibrations. I haven’t felt that since I’ve been working from home. I think we are far more connected to each other than we understand or realise. People need people.

Happy: What about your ultimate day?

Simon: One moment that was close for us was when we drove out to Nasty Simons parents place out in Oberon which is in the Central Tablelands of NSW to write tracks. We drove to a secluded place on the Fish River and hiked up to a spot on a hill overlooking an incredible vista then wrote punk songs on 12-string guitars ha ha ha. The most un-punk method in the most un-punk setting but it was just amazing. Just pure collaboration between two songwriters/guitarists completely on the same page. 

Our initial impetus and focal point was Midnight Oil and it felt very Midnight Oil to go and connect with the land and remember why we were doing this – cos we love Australia more than anything, and we felt let down by the people who were elected to oversee such an incredibly beautiful and historic country. 

We needed a voice and we felt not enough bands were engaging in all of these incredibly important themes. We are a band born out of necessity. We feel like we HAVE to happen. We have to say this shit. 

Happy: Tell us about your creative community.

Rhys : I remember back a few years ago when the Sandringham closed down feeling a little disparaging about the future for Sydney. The lock-out laws weren’t too far after that & I knew people who were just moving to Melbourne. Thankfully it really feels like those times have turned around recently. I would say things like the free live bands happening at places like The Duke & The Mosh Pitt are particularly important. I’ve found myself checking out things I wouldn’t normally see just by randomly popping in. From my experience, Sydney has tended to be more of a friendship network of cliques, rather than a geographical based scene.

Having places where people can go and see live music on a whim is crucial to building a healthy creative community. People finding new bands & cross pollinating each other’s networks builds an engaged audience for artists & venues alike.

Nasty Party

Happy: What did you read or watch or listen to growing up that fuelled your passion for music?

Rhys : I remember watching the Documentary “Hype” about Seattle Music at a very young age. Being from the suburbs, I had no real concept of what underground music was. The idea of a somewhat hidden community of people creating & enjoying each other’s music was amazing to me. I knew I wanted to move out of the suburbs & get amongst it as soon as I could. 

Happy: What did you read or watch last that opened your eyes and mind to a new perspective? 

Rhys :: I recently read the Book called “Rip it Up & Start Again” by Simon Reynolds. It’s an analysis of the Post Punk & New Wave music that was happening in the late 70’s. This period is especially inspirational to us. I admired all those artists as they managed to create challenging Art without  disappearing up their own arse.

The New Wave bands were fresh & subversive while remaining familiar & fun. The listener didn’t have to work too hard to penetrate the content. That’s a value we try to carry with the Nasty Party Project.

Simon: I’ve been immersing myself in Indigenous culture. It’s just so pivotal to who we are, and where we need to be. The fact that so many white Australians have so much to say on the subject without even knowing what actually happened is just mind blowing. Knowledge is the key; the antithesis of ignorance, and ignorance breeds racism. Once you try to understand Indigenous culture, you understand how this land that we all live in is held together. They are the backbone. The custodians. 

Happy: How do you go about creating your music? Do you have a specific process or approach to songwriting?

Simon: We are a double edged sword – both Rhys and I write songs, play guitar and write lyrics and melodies. I handle the production and drum stuff cos I love that shit. We pretty much split everything in half because we’ve had so many years of being in bands where ego got in the way and we were really sick and tired of it. All our photos are done by us; all our artwork. It really is a 50/50 contribution and it’s super important to us that whenever we each say we don’t like something, that we talk about why and always have the vision of the band as a final benchmark. We really work towards the final vision of the band rather than individual ego’s getting the better of the process. It’s always such an organic process that very very rarely results in any kind of disagreement because we are just so in tune with each other, we love the same music, and we know what the end goal is. 

Happy: Your sound is often described as a mix of classic punk and new wave with a modern sensibility. Can you talk about how you balance those different elements in your music?

 Rhys : When we put our first single first out, we sent it to some Punk Zines & Blogs etc… a lot of the feedback we received was that we weren’t really punk enough… a bit too retro for a modern Punk Blog. Then we sent our songs to some Indie Publications, & they said we were a little bit too Punk for their audience.

So we actually aren’t that sure about where we sit within the current landscape really…

We do listen to a lot of 70’s Rock, New Wave & Post-Punk bands…

These influences definitely have a strong presence within our first 2 singles. We would like to think we bring the spirit of the Punk attitude in regards to our artistic approach. We don’t shy away from exploring politics & social commentary within our lyrical content. This would be an obvious parallel to draw with first-wave type Punk bands. However, we are probably better classified as just a straight ahead Aussie Pub Rock Band. We like to make fast, fun, drinking music to play loud at backyard piss-ups.

Happy: Nasty Party has a reputation for putting on high-energy live shows. How do you translate that live energy into your recordings?

Rhys :Being a couple of drunken maniacs, but we do enjoy our songs to be on the faster side. There were a couple of times when we were recording that we were concerned we’d possibly gone too far. I recall Nasty Simon emailed once & said to me that he had re-recorded the drums on an already speedy song to make it even faster. I came to re-record my parts & had to really push myself to pull it off. Playing them at speed meant most of the songs barely made it to 3 mins. A take would be over so quickly, I didn’t even have time to register if it was working or not. However, we A/B tested the fast & slower versions… & the faster ones always rocked the most. Energy is the most important element within our music, we just always take the path that leads to maximum excitement.

Happy: You mentioned that your latest single, “Monochromatic TV,” was recorded, mixed, and produced entirely within Simon’s bedroom studio. Can you talk about the advantages and challenges of DIY recording?

Simon: DIY recording is the heart of what we do. Because our sound draws from the period of musical time where it didn’t matter if you could play your instrument properly, that frees us up to capitalise on the way that type of rock/punk/new wave really drew upon mistakes, feel and a looseness that a lot of modern music is lacking. We would just get drunk and press record and go for it, and that is exciting to us. It’s not going to be in time everytime; it’s not going to be necessarily spot on in tune but the FEEL is all that matters. The vibe is all that matters. If it’s too manicured then it becomes clinical. A Bunnings snag sandwich vs an upscale Pesto and lamb ragu focaccia. I mean, we like both, but we are Bunnings!!

Rhys : I don’t even know what a Ragu Focaccia is?

Happy: Who are some other musical influences that might surprise your fans?

Rhys :: I really love ridiculous novelty songs. I remember as a kid, collecting singles like “Baby Got Back” & “Detachable Penis” just because they had naughty words in it. One day, I’m going to do a DJ performance somewhere & just play a full set of Smutty Novelty songs! Being a Punk band that likes childish schoolyard humour… perhaps wouldn’t be that surprising to anyone really…

Happy: Your lyrics are known for being socially and politically charged. Can you talk about some of the themes and issues that inspire your songwriting?

Rhys : We do have a more serious thread running through our lyrics. There is just so much injustice everywhere, its hard not to feel cynical sometimes. It feels healthier to try & do something positive with it. Our primary driver is the shared exasperation with the state of Australia. Our annoyance with the general political discourse here has definitely been a recurring theme.

Politics & Social issues are what usually motivates us initially. However, we are careful to not just be a finger waver type band. Rock n Roll is meant to be a cathartic & not something to overthink. We just want those same 3 chords to be refreshed by mixing in some new kind of context.

Happy: As a band with members in both Sydney and London, how do you approach songwriting and collaboration from a distance?

Rhys : Luckily, most of the tracking of our recordings were done before Nasty Simon went to London. Initially, we weren’t sure how long he would be away or how we could keep working. So far we have been adjusting reasonably well to doing this more virtually. We email rough mixes & video clip edits back and forth between time zones… it can make things take longer, but you just have to keep rolling & try not lose that excitement momentum.

Happy: You’ve mentioned that you take on every aspect of your craft, from creating the music to crafting your own photos and artwork. How important is it for you to have control over every aspect of your band’s image and output.

Simon: We were offered a contract to sign to a label after our first single came out… However, we turned it down. We didn’t really like the idea of operating via someone else’s ideas of who we are. Retaining control of our art is very important to us. We have both been in the industry long enough to be lucky to have been signed to multiple record labels, and the fundamental thing that became of that experience was that we simply MUST retain control over who we are. Nobody understands us like, erm, us!!!

Happy: Can you talk about the punk scene in Sydney and how it’s evolved over the years? Are there any other up-and-coming Sydney punk bands you’d recommend?

Rhys : Some great local/Aussies bands we have seen recently are, Gut Health, Vintage Crop, R.M.F.C, Optic Nerve, Operation Ibis, Smitty & B-goode, The Kids, The Grand Union, Fangs, Keyring Jeans, The Black Cardinals, The Dead Riders, Beijing Bikini & Battle Snake.

Happy: What’s next for Nasty Party? Are you working on any new music or planning any tours?

Simon: Our song “Sturm & Drang” has recently been included on the Punk Vinyl Benefit Compilation, “Protect Humanity”. The Vinyl compilation is now available to Order via the Website:

There is another Nasty Party song “What the F**k are you into?”  that will be included on a Punk Rock Compilation Vinyl Release from Spank Mag sometime around October 2023. 

Happy: What makes you happy?

Simon: I have a side-passion for illustration & have an online comic called “This is Zorn”. While Rhys Nasty prefers more simple hobbies like,smoking Cigs & looking for lost wallets behind the seats at the Cinema.