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September 2019

Nervus: "It's a reminder to people to stop being knobheads"

Newcomers Nervus are following up their much-loved debut with a record full of hope.
Published: 10:55 am, March 09, 2018
Nervus: "It's a reminder to people to stop being knobheads"
"Nobody loses all the time," sing Nervus towards the front of new record ‘Everything Dies'. Down but not out. Glass one-third full, the band's second album is a fierce burst of trying to make good in a world that would rather you didn't. "Hope life begins at 29," offers ‘Sick Sad World', breaking into a smile. "I might be on my back, but at least I'm looking up," continues ‘It Follows'. It's not the silver-lining the band are after; they'll settle for a break in the weather.

The title "is not bleak," promises the band's Em Foster. "It depends how you look at it, but it's just a fact," she grins. "It's a realistic title. You've got to see stuff in terms of how temporary and transient everything is. You're not going to be stuck in the same exact situation forever. If you're in a great situation, it's a reminder to not take that for granted. If you're in a crap situation, it's an offer of hope. If you're in an alright situation, it's an offer of something different. It's a reminder to people to stop being knobheads. To enjoy themselves where they can and not focus too hard on the things that make you miserable. If you can find a bit of hope before you die, that's good." Well, it's either that or "it just sounds cool."

Still scratching at the bones of her troubles, ‘Everything Dies' sees Em take authority of the situation. "I'm a lot more confident now in how I feel about stuff, whereas before I was talking about things from a perspective where I didn't feel confident in myself," she starts. Using the first record to come out as trans, while also dealing with alcohol addiction and mental health troubles, debut album ‘Permanent Rainbow' was, at times, almost uncomfortable in its intimacy. ‘Everything Dies' is full of pride. Unwavering in its stance, it's a record that knows where it belongs.

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"pull" text="If you can find a bit of hope before you die, that's good.

Finding joy in their unity, the record moves with grand gestures and untethered urgency. The edges have been sharpened and the attack, carefully planned. Lyrically, the album is "super broad" as Em uses her fury as a weapon. "Trying to address the things that make you feel angry in a constructive way is helpful, even if it's difficult to do."

But Nervus were forged in that struggle. The surprise reaction to their debut "made me feel more anxious about writing lyrics and being open," says Em. "[For this album] I also had to make sure I'm being responsible in what I'm writing and how I'm talking about things. It made me readdress my responsibility to not talk out of turn."

"I don't speak for anyone but myself," she continues, but people can see their own struggles mirrored in the band. "The last interview we did, I said things can get better, and they can. But that doesn't mean they will. Or that it's easy. Maybe it's going to be a horrible time before things do get better. There's some incredibly positive stuff happening for recognition of trans people and representation of trans people, but I think the backlash from that affects other people much more than it affects me. I'm middle class and white. I have the support of my friends and the support of my family. I'm just trying to be a positive role model with what I'm saying, and not talking for people.

"I think a lot of people would think a lot less about it than I do, but that's just the way my brain works. I'd hate to be the person that went onstage and said, ‘Oh yeah, coming out is awful. Don't do it', because it wouldn't be true. Offering people no hope, I couldn't do it. It would be a lie. I wouldn't say it's tough speaking publically about these things because that's something I've chosen to do and I can opt out of it at any moment. There are tougher things, y'know?"

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"pull" text="All you can do is what you can do.

One of the most important songs on ‘Everything Dies' is ‘Fall Apart'. Bundling up the shards of optimism and the glittering good times before setting sail and leaving it all behind, the album's closing track looks at climate change and the apathy surrounding it. "It's the single biggest issue we will ever face as a species. It's bigger than all of us. It affects everyone. There are people in the world now whose daily life is affected by climate change.

"It's not something we necessarily see living in the UK, but it's important that we do something about it. It's about the way corporations, governments and the huge organisations that dictate our consumption are making these decisions with absolutely no long-term considerations. There's got to be an alternative, a decent alternative, for the planet and the people on it, rather than just the people who are making the decisions about those things. At the moment, sustainable, renewable sources of energy and ways of living do not come with a good profit margin for the people implementing them. They want the biggest profit in the shortest amount of time, so it leaves little room for discussion.

"Just know that I did everything I could," promises the dying line. World-weary but still carrying on, Em says "it's a reminder to live by, that. I sing that line as a reminder to do everything I can about it. Making sure I'm doing everything I can, supporting the people who are trying to make a difference, that's important to me. And that's all you can do. All you can do is what you can do. And if I have children, it's important to be able to tell them that when the whole world is a giant ashen heap of smoke, I did try. I donated £5 a month to Greenpeace, and I planted a couple of trees by a local park. Then I'll feel fine, and I'll be completely absolved of all guilt. Yes, that's my serious slash tongue in cheek answer to that question."

Nervus’s album ‘Everything Dies’ is out now. Taken from the March issue of Dork - order your copy below.

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