Nailbreaker discusses new EP Pain and the return of live gigs

“I don't do well with talking therapy, this is my main outlet for what I'm going through," - Nailbreaker on the creative process.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 8:08 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 8:10 pm
Nailbreaker performing at The Garibaldi in 2019. Photo by David Jackson.

After taking a break from recording during 2020 because of burn out and losing the desire to make music, Nailbreaker returned last month with new EP, Pain.

The five-track record is the latest collection of work by the Rushden based creator of abrasive, digital hardcore.

Nailbreaker, is the project of George Hammond and Pain sees the musician again melding vocals over layers of distorted electronic riffs and beats.

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Nailbreaker. Photo by Isaac Woolls

Talking about Pain, Hammond said: “It feels great to finally have the EP out.

“I took a break from recording mid-way through 2020 just because I was feeling burnt out and it took me a while to get back into making music, so finally putting this out has been a bit cathartic.”

Pain features the tracks Look Alive, Clowns (which was recently dissected and praised by online critic Anthony Fantano), Stockholm State, 3.5 Facelift and Nailbreaker vs. Nailbreaker.

The record follows 2019’s EP Spectrum Songs and the tracks Blood and Bitterness and Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank which were released last year.

“Honestly, I normally struggle to verbalise what specifically my songs are about,” explains Hammond.

“I use lyric writing as a way to communicate the feelings or thoughts I have that I otherwise don't know how to express.

“Obviously there's themes of both politics and mental health and how the two can affect one another, but I'm mostly pulling from my own personal experiences.

“I don't do well with talking therapy, this is my main outlet for what I'm going through.”

Tracks on Pain originate from 2018, with the beats in the first three songs made last year.

Hammond recorded the vocals in February this year, before mixing the EP.

Describing the process of writing a Nailbreaker track, he explains the music always comes first, with either the bass, drums or a sample laying the foundations of songs before “whacking the distortion up to 10”.

“From there I just let the track go in whatever direction it's going”, he adds, “it's like filling in the blanks.”

Hammond formed Nailbreaker in 2018 as his former band Acolytes became gradually more inactive.

The project took influence from Acolytes’ bassist Bewlay’s solo project Dylon Dean which had fused rap and punk with GarageBand beats.

“I had been listening to a lot of harsh noise, power electronics and industrial music at the time and was wanting to do something that stylistically reflected that,” he explains.

“I didn't have any knowledge of producing electronic music at the time, I decided to also try making beats myself on GarageBand.

“It was all very rough and lo-fi to begin with so this project has really been me gradually learning how to produce music while putting out material.

“I tend to gravitate towards rap, punk and noise sonically because they're all genres that require the artists making it to be expressive and authentic.

“When I'm trying to communicate something within me that I'd struggle to normally, those feel like the most natural forms of expression that match what I'm feeling.”

Talking about the past 12 months, Hammond explains he has spent most of the pandemic out of work, but admits he has been lucky not to have contracted the coronavirus, nor have anyone close to him affected.

However, he adds: “I would be lying if I said it hasn't been hard.

“Having gigs taken away meant my main reason for getting out the house had been taken away and for the first lockdown, I had no motivation to make music.

“Like everyone else I struggled with my mental health but that's always been present so again, not something I'm gonna complain about.

“It was more of a learning curve of figuring out how to exist in a world where the one thing I wanted to do wasn't an option anymore.”

It's been more than a year since ‘normal’ gigs at venues across the UK because of Government restrictions brought in as a result of the coronavirus.

The roadmap out of lockdown has provided venues light at the end of the tunnel with many now booking and promoting gigs for later in 2021.

While recent test gigs in Liverpool are hopefully proving live music can safely return, Nailbreaker gigs are always intense experiences in small, dark, sweaty rooms, rather than large open-air tents.

On the potential return of Nailbreaker live gigs, Hammond said: “We're gonna be feeling the effects of the pandemic for a while and I think it'll be a long time before things are back to how they were pre-2020, as much as I'd like to be proven wrong.

“Previously I'd completely written off the idea of doing a socially-distanced gig, for one because I didn't think they were very safe, and also because my live shows are so physical and violent that I didn't think it would work in a socially-distant setting.

“But I'm definitely much more open to the idea now my family have all been vaccinated and now vaccines are becoming for widely available.

“As soon as it's safe to do so I'm gonna be gigging again, it's one of the few things that really makes me feel alive.

“I genuinely didn't know how to cope without it for the first year and a half of the pandemic.”

Hammond is working on more new Nailbreaker material which could be released later this year, including the second volume of the Waste Megamix, a third EP and a full-length mixtape.

He also plays guitar in Corby’s Sharkteeth Grinder who have been working on new material.

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