Boston cult punk legends American Nightmare recently exploded back onto our radars and put out their first record in fifteen years to a rightfully warm reception from the hardcore and alternative scene. We were lucky enough to catch up with lead vocalist and chief songwriter Wes Eisold for a quick chat about the band’s brand-new self-titled album, and some of the history, themes and inspiration behind it.

“IN 2002 We were stripped of the American Nightmare moniker.”

‘In 2002 or so we were stripped of the American Nightmare moniker,’ he tells us, recalling the band’s infamous legal disputes. ‘And we had to pick a new name really fast. We chose Give Up The Ghost cause that was what the album was gonna be called, the album coming out at that time.’ They stuck with it until their breakup, then after reuniting, sought to reclaim the old name. ‘Two years ago we began the process to get our name back, because we realised the owners hadn’t kept up on it, the trademark had expired. I think once we did that, we were definitely more interested in making an album underneath that name, that was a big part of it. And also we just realised we could make a record together in a way we’d never done before, without the stress of being in a full time band. Our lives weren’t hanging on the reception of a new album.”

It was an obvious and inspired choice, therefore, to opt for a self titled album, a celebration of reclaiming their original name, and telling the world what they’re about. ‘Everything is really intentional,’ says Wes. ‘From the title to the minimalism of the artwork and song titles. The lyrical aspect of it ties in also. It’s a continuation of the theme that’s always existed with the band which is how to cope with a lifetime of depression and feelings of inadequacy in this modern confusing world. I find some weird gratification in being a little bit older now and understanding that I wasn’t just being a dramatic teenager or an overly depressed person for no reason. I wanted to console and confirm to my former self and to people who are going through similar, that you’re not wrong to feel that way and you’re also not alone in those feelings.’

“I find some weird gratification in being a little bit older now and understanding that I wasn’t just being a dramatic teenager or an overly depressed person for no reason.”

But at the same time, Wes is smart enough to be aware of his choice of words in this area, not wanting to alienate potential listeners or pigeonhole his band. ‘I never want to present the band as a sort of ‘if you have feelings of depression you should buy our record’ that’s not where I’m coming from at all, so I’m very careful to say these things and how I want to present them. That’s kind of why the poetic aspects of lyrics is appealing to me because you’re able to express your feelings without the bluntness of a mundane, every day conversation.’

Everything about this new album, and indeed about the band themselves, is carefully thought out, presented in the way they wish to present themselves, even down to the short length of the record, with a running time of only twenty minutes. ‘There were other songs we could have put on the record but ultimately we decided that as a listen, it was good to get in and out. Regardless of whether it was 20 minutes or 40 minutes those songs together just sounded like a good representation of what the band is now at this point in its life. We didn’t want to make some grandiose over produced hardcore album, we wanted to strip it down to the essentials of the band and the essence of the band – raw dark primal punk rock hardcore without a lot of overdubs or studio tricks. We don’t really measure music in terms of length.’

“a total release, a total catharsis, a total emotional freak out.”

Then again, American Nightmare have never been ones to play by the rules, always pushing and testing the genre. ‘People always had a hard time reconciling the band and its influences because it was always a little bit different than what was going on elsewhere in hardcore, and that’s a thing we’re really proud of. We never wanted to be a band that fit in exactly with anyone.’ It’s an attitude that ultimately worked in the band’s favour, their widened spheres of influences and punk sub-genres appealing to ‘people from all walks of life and all tastes of music who appreciate the band for what it is.’

And for those of you who haven’t heard the band’s music before, think of it as ‘a total release, a total catharsis, a total emotional freak out. It’s taking the aggravation and confusion and depression of youth and filtering it through a lifetime of related feelings. Ultimately, it’s an explosion. It’s something that needs to be experienced both on record and live.’ We agree, and thankfully, American Nightmare will be touring the UK and Europe for a handful of dates in April. They’re also already planning the next album, as well as some festival appearances. ‘We’ve just started talking about it now, but we just wanted to make this first and get it out of the way and play these songs live,’ and we can’t wait to hear them either!

WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON

THE SELF TITLED RECORD IS OUT NOW VIA RISE RECORDS. YOU CAN ALSO CATCH THE BAND ON TOUR ON THE FOLLOWING DATES

Apr 28: London The Underworld, UK
Apr 29: Brighton The Haunt, UK
Apr 30: Antwerp Kayka, Belgium
May 01: Eindhoven Dynamo, Netherlands
May 02: Cologne Gebaude 9, Germany
May 03: Berlin Bi Nuu, Germany

 

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