Pius Meagher, Dermot Noonan and Jimmy Conroy.
Faces familiar to many on the local gig scene across the years (hello, TV Jones), and in more recent times now plying their trade as Nervetraps.
Continuing our 10 question series with acts on the Kilkenny scene, Ian McDonnell caught up with Nervetraps during a rehearsal session at Crossroads Recording Studio for some questions and photos.
Who inspired you to make music?
Pius: My three older brothers all had record collections, so I was spoiled. My oldest brother was mainly a singles man; the second oldest was into punk, and the third oldest liked ska and Blondie. But it was when I saw The Jets (Rockabilly revival act from early ’80s) on TOTPs I grabbed the knives and a biscuit tin and bashed along. Then I knew…(as did the neighbours!)
Dermot: My inspiration started in primary school with classmates Brian Kenealy (Engine Alley) and John McCormack (Belsonic Sound). Also seeing the Boomtown rats for the first time on the Late Late show, most exciting music I had ever heard at 13 years old.
Jimmy: The first song I heard that made me go “I want to that that” was Looking After Number 1 by the Boomtown Rats. The snare drum intro still gets me. The song that made me want to be in a band was Maybelline by Chuck Berry.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Pius: I would most like to collaborate with the great Justin K. Broderick (Godflesh, Scorn, Jesu, JK Flesh, Gnod, Sun Kil Moon) certainly a potential “we’re not worthy” moment there.
Jimmy: Paul Simenon from The Clash would be groovy or Ian Mc Kaye from Fugazi.
Dermot: Collaborate with Jello Biafra, Dead Kennedys, for lyrics alone.
Q What is your creative process like?
Jimmy: It is very quiet and slow. It’s not forced in any way. I listen and read and wait; then I walk in nature and wait some more. Something always comes and I write it in notes or record myself humming to the phone. I need an editor.
Pius: Sometimes I pick up the guitar at home and write a whole song (I knocked off Petrol – start to finish – in 30 minutes flat). Other times it’ll be a riff. A lot of times I play a drum beat and we all work around that (Chloroform, Spec). And sometimes we just jam (Manifesto). I won’t listen to any music by anyone if I’m planning on writing something new that week.
I like the let all those subliminal influences filter out organically. I know we are not exactly splitting the atom here, but it’s our music; honest music. And we are proud of it. My dear departed deity, Mark E. Smith is my inspiration for not giving a fuck – The Fall were still bringing out challenging and brilliant music 40 years into their career. Not like the fucking Rolling Stones. M.E.S. R.I.P.
Dermot: My creative process is with an acoustic guitar, or recently jam sessions, with Nervetraps we keep adding and subtracting until our songs work, a great feeling when a tune comes together as you wanted.
Q How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
Pius: Unlike peoples’ personal lives, I think the Internet has greatly benefitted music.
Jimmy: Probably negatively on the ‘business’ side, but definitely positively on the music and creativity side. So much sharing of output and ideas all across the planet.
Dermot: The internet caused an explosion of music, which was evident during lockdown. Watching musicians like Reverend Heat and Dale Watson collaborate online to name one of the thousands of online gigs, fantastic. The internet changed music for the better.
Q If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be ?
Pius: If I could open a show for anyone today, it would be Godflesh (or whichever project JKB might have on the go at the time)
Dermot: I would like to open for Kerbdog.
Q What first got you into music?
Pius: Definitely Disco, I think. From 0 – 4 years old, it was always on the radio. And my oldest brother had the 45s.
The first two singles in my collection (that I actually asked/threw a tantrum for) were Funky Town and Kelly Marie’s hot floor classic, Feels Like I’m In Love – not sure which was the first, they were both out around the same time.
I still have a big soft spot for that stuff. Never Can Say Goodbye by Gloria Gaynor is one of my all time favourite songs (later destroyed by Jimmy ‘Peanut Head’ Sommerville).
Dermot: I first started listening to music on a small transistor radio my Dad bought for a birthday. At night, Radio Luxembourg played so much fantastic blues and music the mainstream stations didn’t want to play. I also grew up with Irish country music being played on a radio in the kitchen until the two channels came on the telly after six o’clock.
Jimmy: I very strongly remember my mother getting our first record player (one of those mono players with the lid).
We inherited a couple of albums with the record player like The Beatles compilation and an Elvis one too, but the ones that stands out for me was an album of British garage sounds with bands like The Troggs, The Animals, Manfred Mann, Lovin Spoonful. That sound really stuck with me.
Q How would you describe the music that you typically create?
Jimmy: Garage Groove.
Pius: If I was being honest (not arrogant) I would say ‘Nervetraps music’. If I was being pressed – ‘Cosmic Doom Punk’. If I was being facetious, ‘a mixture of Nirvana, Carcass and The Human League’.
Dermot: The music I like to create has to have a driving beat. I’m an original punk-rocker as well as a rockabilly guy. My tunes sing of hot rod cars , women and whiskey.
Q What is the most useless talent you have?
Pius: My most useless talent is that I can spout off hours of dialogue from Fawlty Towers. The older I get I have realised that I am – pretty much – Basil Fawlty, unfortunately (with an unwelcome sprinkling of Frank Spencer). I can also tell you all the winners, scores, scorers and results of every FA Cup final from 1961 to 1990 (I am not joking, try me some time).
Dermot: I don’t think I have any useless talents.
Jimmy: Talent is talent…never useless.
Q What is your favourite song to perform?
Pius: At the moment it is our cover/desecration of Traffic’s Paper Sun. Of our own, my baby, Petrol, of course. Also Chloroform.
Jimmy: Maybelline still after 40 odd years.
Dermot: With Nervetraps I love playing all the tunes but Petrol is my favourite, pure power.
Q What’s next for you?
Pius: We have enough for an album, but we wouldn’t say no to a nice Punky 7″ either, or a 12″ or 10″ inch EP. We will record soon. The double bass drums need to be at a death metal level in the mix… The rest will follow.
Dermot: Next is just keep going until I cant play anymore.
Jimmy: Recording our first at Crossroads Recording Studio (cassette EP maybe) and hopefully some gigs with like-minded people in 2022.