What do crust punk superstars do when they are done with it all? They tramp off to the southwest and become a hermit, that’s what. Pete Nash, a gangly underage punker from Dorridge who somehow ended up in the ( now ) infamous Birmingham Crust Punk scene of the mid 1980s – centred around the legendary Mermaid venue – was one of the two less interesting members (his description) of DOOM, and later on played in EXTREME NOISE TERROR, FILTHKICK and CAIN. He talks about being a recluse, fiddling with sludge doom demo tracks for CORVUS in his damp cottage ( and then never promoting them, so no one knows they exist, and if he ever sorts a release, the cover will be done on an inkjet printer and you’ll probably have to pay for it with a SAE and a postal order ), cursing at the tourists out of his window, driving an old car with a bent MOT and wandering the foggy landscapes for miles around. Well, oldmansmettle.com decided to light a fire under his arse and after all these years I finally got him to agree to do an exclusive interview. Feeling inspired? Read on…
Hi Pete, for the benefit of those who can’t work it out, who are you?
Hello there. I played bass in Doom, Extreme Noise Terror, Cain and guitar for Filthkick.
How old were you when you joined AGL ( Anti Gothic League ) and Doom? You always looked so young.
I think I was about thirteen years old when we formed A.G.L and I was sixteen when I joined Doom.
Too young to be playing pubs then….
It’s funny, when you’re that young you do not take any noticed of bouncers as you’re so naive, although I do remember being worried that they would not let me in for not being old enough. I soon realised that they were not interested in age or anything; come to think about it, I don’t know if there were any bouncers at, ‘The Mermaid’?
No, there were none, Daz Russell would get a quid fifty off you, and inside the venue was a load of punks, 10-year-old kids wandering about saying ‘oi mister give us a swig of your beer’, and the odd dog.
On the odd occasion we couldn’t afford to get in so we would climb onto the roof and sneak into the girl’s toilets. It was only £1.75 to get in but, you would have spent your money on booze ‘n’ fags beforehand; you got to get your priorities right!
What on earth did your mum think of those crusty trousers?
I don’t know what she thought about it, I never asked. I was quite lucky in that respect as I had a lot freedom. She was too tired from working all day to worry too much about it
What were the best gigs you saw at the Mermaid as a punter?
I can’t think of any specific ones, but always enjoyed the festivals. They were always an occasion. There was always a buzz at those gigs; they were great. Bands like, Amebix, Anti Sect, Chaos U.K., Extreme Noise terror, Napalm Death etc. were always good and the occasional band from outside the U.K.
What was it like playing in Japan with Doom? Apparently you played to huge audiences?
That tour was quite strange. The band was divided between two camps and there was apparent distain between them. What had happened was that we really we had just grown apart. I tried to ignore it and just get on with my own thing. I don’t know if the crowds were that big? There was a great atmosphere at the gigs. They were like early punk gigs in the ‘70’s, with all sorts of shit going on. The gigs and the crowd were great, but we all new this was the last of the ‘old Doom’. I think the last release ‘Greatest Invention’ was tied up with the tour or something.
Ah you were all only young. How about coming back and playing the Coach and Horses to 20 of the usual crowd?
Would be a doss, but I only do 500 000 seater stadiums. Coach and Horses, is it still there?
Probably. You played in Extreme Noise Terror and Filthkick for a while. How did that all go?
O.k. … Haa. I enjoyed them both. With E.N.T, Stick asked me if I wanted to join them and I couldn’t believe it. For a long time, they were my favourite band, so when I was asked, I was ‘stoked’. I had to learn all the songs in about a week or two; listening to tapes of their songs in my bedroom. I learnt them all and got to the first practice and either my tuning was wrong or they’d changed it and I had to learn them all over again! Doss!
Then Phil left, which I was really gutted about. Phil and Dean are E.N.T and so it did not feel like the real E.N.T. I enjoyed doing the split album with them, but we had not been together long enough to gel and for me it was their weakest album.
You mean the one with Chaos UK? The Chaos UK side is fantastic. ENT side has great songs but is a bit ropy sounding, but maybe we didn’t worry too much about production then because the music was unprecedented?
No, that Chaos U.K split ‘Radioactive’, is one of the best punk albums of all time. The E.N.T. side is probably in my top five punk recordings list! No, the Filtkick split, ‘In it for Life’; It’s not good.
What are the other four on the list? Does ‘Your Turn Next’ by Concrete Sox make it?
The punk rock top list is not written in stone. It changes all the time, and fluctuates. Mmmmm, These are always in the top list. Discharge, Crass, Amebix, MDC, . Oh I don’t know, it’s not order preference either. There’s too many.
You started it.…
I hate top ten lists, although I always use them, you always miss out the good stuff. Six minute war, Crucifucks, Seige……Aaarrrggghhhh!
Tell us about the Extreme Noise Terror MTV interview when you were so wasted you couldn’t speak?
I was roped into doing the M.T.V. interview at the last minute which I was not happy about. I thought that M.T.V was too much of a commercial concern for ‘proper’ punk music. It was also really embarrassing. I agreed to sit there, but I was not going to answer any questions, then of course they asked me. It was after the gig and I was SOOO pissed (we actually got paid) I could hardly string a sentence together and the others had rehearsed their answers. Doss!
You can tell none of you were ready to handle the real world…even the interviewer was out of his depth.
Well, it was the first time I had a certain substance and I was just enjoying it. LOL!
And the Brit awards with KLF?
When the Brit Awards/ KLF thing came along, I thought fuck this, I’m not in a pop band. Anyway, if it happened now, I would have done it and a good laugh doing it.
And then you joined Filthkick?
Leggo asked me to join Filthkick shortly after. I don’t know the details, but there was some sort of aggro. and they split up. I think they were desperate for a bass player so after scraping the barrel a few times he ended up asking me. We lived in the same house, (House of Filth) so it was nice and convenient. By then, we were very dissolutioned with ‘the scene’ and everything else and wanted to start trying different sounds. Fuelled by booze and all sorts of horrors, we were getting the nastiest riffs together, reflecting out disturbed brains no doubt. In the end, it all imploded. You could not keep that lifestyle sustained for any length of time and it all ended in a wet fart. If we had all had a massive scrap, it probably would have cleared the air and we would probably done some other music. In reflection we should have not used the name ‘Filthkick’, it was it was a relic from a time we no longer felt we had anything in common with.
You were all very young though I guess, and living life on your own terms. Is it true that you turned up to record at the BBC for a Peel session, and the engineer asked why you only had three strings on your bass, to which you replied, ‘In case one breaks’…?
Yes, and I was telling the truth! It was the first Doom Peel session. Through Doom I learnt (sort of) to play bass. All the notes of the riff were close together and when you playing at speed, you could play faster on one string. Also, I couldn’t afford strings; I think they were a tenner a set. With E.N.T, there tended to be more notes in a riff and they were spread out further on the scale, so it was easier to play fast on all the other strings
Every punk band who played on those BBC sessions sounded amazing.
I don’t know really. I did’nt take any notice of it. It was a free recording session!
I left Birmingham and missed the Cain era. How did that band go down at the time at gigs – Swaggus used to rave about you. I’m assuming you could get away from the drugs long enough to do a few gigs? Has the reissue gone down well?
I missed the Cain era too.! I think the gigs went down alright, but we were so much in our own bubble that we didn’t really take any notice. It was all about the playing. On some of the tapes I have, there’s people cheering at the end of the songs, so it must have been alright. I don’t know how the album went down either, or whether it was even distributed properly. We were totally disconnected with reality and the music was everything. I remember the odd few things; we played at what was billed as a speed metal festival once, which we thought was amusing, with our extremely slow style. Ha! I’m not sure how the re issue is doing, it’s still early days I suppose. There had been lots of good reviews, so maybe it is alright? Cain are rehearsing at the moment, but I live too far away to keep turning up to practices. It’s a really bugger as it would have been great to play those songs and make new stuff up, but it ain’t practical driving a six-hundred-mile round trip, it’s too far out man. Cain and Filthkick all ground down at the same time and the whole thing got weird.
Listening to the re-release, Jon wrote the riffs I assume – he has a really good ear for musical shapes.
Yes, I think Jon came up with most of the songs in Cain. He and the other member lived in the same house, (House of Cain) so when I went to the practices most of the songs had a rough shape. It was the first time I played that style of music, so I really was just learning to play it at the time. The trouble is, we would get so stoned before the gigs it was really hard to play; I had to play it really basically, so I wouldn’t get lost. It was the same with the album, we were so blasted and freezing (a converted slaughterhouse in winter) that I did not dare to do any ace bass licks I’d practice or we would have to start all over again. The recording I remember was so cold that we would warm ourselves up under the mixing desk lightbulb. It was a tight budget! I think most of it was in one take. There was no click track and occasionally you would have to fill in empty gaps; trying to guess when something came in. You can hear the occasional wavers! I don’t know if they wrote the songs together or whether it was just Jon’s thing and we learnt them at the practices. We did a few practices at their house a few times, which never went down well with the rest of the street.
There’s this theory that creative people have a ‘special quality’ – ranging from being a tad awkward and self absorbed to a total c*** in order to get what they want done. Are you anywhere along that axis? Some of the more ‘successful’ people I know are a bit difficult – perhaps likeable, but none-the-less….
I think that’s a compliment, lol! It might be ‘sad’ but I have always believed that a co-operative is more successful. Sharing of information and ideas is essential to the human experience and makes for a better existence. The trouble is, working with others has it’s massive pitfalls; be it dealing with egos or they just don’t do it my way, so I relish in being a successful failure. Hahahaha! Anyway, what is deemed a success and by whom? Only you know lol! Sounds like yoga! Fuck the wankers they are boring and a drain of your energy!
Why did you move to the southwest? According to the likely suspects, apparently you couldn’t keep up with the amount of drugs Cain were consuming at the time?
Hahaha. I was always too skint to take that much anyway, but both bands sort of fell apart at the same time. (Cain and Filthkick) From my point of view, we were just getting more and more blasted and were no longer practicing or gigging. I spent the most of time at the ‘House of Filth’ on my own getting more and more bored with it all. Leggo and Neil (members of Filthkick) had an argument over Nietzsche or something and were not talking to each other for months on end. The house was like an armed camp, it was a total shithole and I could not wait to get out. I started doing an evening class in Psychology to occupy the brain with something and then went on to study History. There was just a massive apathy.
You studied a History degree – has that worked out well for you? Did you get a job from it?
I studied British History B.A. (hons), focusing mainly on ‘the early modern period’ and ‘British imperialism’. I did my dissertation on British Imperialism. I wanted to work in at the Pitt rivers museum, but in order to do that, you needed to get work experience and many museums would only offer that, if you did it for free; I could not afford to do that. By the time I had finished uni. I had had enough of living in the city and moved out into the middle of nowhere.
As a history buff, have you been to every archeologically interesting site in the southwest yet? Have you crawled through every fogou? Have you slipped through the ring stone Mên-an-Tol? Do you not miss Dorridge?
I travel to lots of sites all around Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, but there are billions of them! I have not been to a Fogou yet; they’re usually in someone’s garden and you cannot go in and have a look. I have a list of them around Lands’ End way and hopefully will be able to get in some! I wanted to go through the Men an Tol, but the wife didn’t want me getting pregnant. No, I don’t miss Dorridge. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
Tell us about your interest in old horror films. Did it begin when you were young? In the 80s it was probably the only way you could get to see a woman with no clothes on after all.
I think I started watching horror films with my father, [ I wonder why? ] when I was about eight or something. He would come back from the pub, wake me up and we would watch some old hammer films or the hammer t.v.series . In the ‘80’s I used to be able get banned copies from a friend whose family owned a local shop, you know, just mindless gore stuff. It was a big thing in the eighties! When I moved to Brum, we would watch horror films all day and night. If you we were not doing music, you’d get blasted and watch a film. It was the thing! I did have loads of copies of films, but 99% of them were shit and the quality of them…copies of copies. In the end, I got sick of crating them around and through the lot in the bin. I thought I’d get DVD’s of the good ones, but never did. I’m more into Sci. Fi films, they are much more imaginative and explore more themes.
Speaking of video nasties – were you in Brum when Make’Em Die Slowly played the Uni with ‘Faces of Death‘ playing on TV onstage?
Yes I think so. They split in ’89 and became ‘Cain’, unless they did this later???
I am as confused as you. I think they were supporting Godflesh? ( Edit – believe it or not it was the other way around ) The student union came and wheeled the TV off halfway through the set.
brilliant. I probably was there. We all used to hang out together (both houses). I think there was about ten of us, who used to just overtake anywhere we went.
You’re into your folk horror? Have you got a copy of the Vampire Lovers, or the spooky English horror Blood on Satan’s Claw? Have you got a copy of US classic Night of the Demon? (The 1980 Sasquatch one).
Night of the Demon (sasquatch one? I hope you’re not talking about the best horror film ever made? The Corvus song ‘Curse’ is based on that amongst other things. I never had Vampire lovers. I nearly got it a few yrs. back, but you can watch it on YouTube, whenever you want, so I did not bother. I sold ‘Blood on Satan’s Claw’. I needed a microphone and it’s on YouTube.
Can you go to your movie shelf and read out 5 random titles?
Five random titles: Close encounters of the Third Kind, (Blue ray), Black Sabbath The Story Vol1, Shogun Assassin, Outlaw Josey Wales, Pychomania.
There are some spooky places in the area you live. As a doomer, have you bumped into any ghosts on your travels?
When I left Brum, the farmhouse I lived in was on the battle site of Edge Hill – some things happened there which we can’t explain. We were walking one sunny morning down the ‘Red Rd’, red from the blood of the dead and dying, and we heard a horse galloping at us. Turned around and nothing there. Did a few more steps and again, we heard a galloping horse coming straight at us. Later, we found out that there was supposedly a ghost horse. Another time I heard loads of horses galloping on the day of the battle. I was chopping wood up at night in this shed… slightly disconcerting Haha. There was a great pub called the Castle there – it was a Victorian folly, just above Edge Hill There’s loads of ghost stories connected with the battle – supposedly the most haunted battle sight in Britain. The whole area is known as the Vale of the Red Horse Local tribes worshipped a horse deity for war and it was etched in the hillside, but no one knows where it is.
Did it look spooky?
The landscape was the same as Blood on Satan’s Claw. Our house was 17th Century, next to an ancient woodland, which is owned by the m.o.d and where the dead were buried. I used to farm near there, I was a farm hand when I left Brum.
Brilliant, can you drive a tractor then?
Yes. Quite easy, really. The independent braking was a laugh. Left break, right break are separate. Some of the tractors were from the 50”s. I rolled one off a bridge into a river and had to be pulled out by a tank.
With that farm lifestyle did you ever consider being in a self sufficient utopia?
Yes, when I was in Doom, I wanted to be in an anarchist collective living off the land, but reality stepped in. Being self sufficient would be very difficult. I like my Tesco’s.com too much.
It makes no economic sense and is actually worse for the environment.
Yes, but you would’nt have to talk to anyone. Lol. Having your own well, and off the grid…yes!
You did a project with Brian of Doom a few years back – was that for CORVUS?
Yes, it was Corvus. I asked him if he wanted record the first demo and he said he would play drums too. He said it was his hardest recording session he has ever done. Hahaha!
Tell us about the project – it all started with that great track ‘Bear’s My Brother’ you got on the Zero Tolerance cover CD. What is going on? Any new material or releases in the pipeline?
I had not played a guitar for about ten yrs. and after listening to ‘Electric Wizard’s Witchcult album, it gave me the catalyst I was waiting for. People go on about how they can’t play, but it’s the atmosphere and spirit of the album that count; it has the total ‘70’s recording vibe. I was going to do a few demos and if I got any feedback, I was going to turn it into a band and do some gigs. But no-one really likes that stuff where I live and people I trust to do music with, live miles away and it sorted of never happened. It started with ‘Left it too Late’. All I was listening to back then was, Sabbath, Trouble. Vitus, Motorhead and Turbonegro and it is what came out of the subconscious. I think I’ve done ‘eight demos’ now, and someone wants to release the first demo. If I did a band, all the songs would be re-written and get someone else to do the lyrics.
You’ve done a lot of stuff. How about a timeline of Corvus releases?
Druid Jan 2007, Lamentations Feb 2008, Adust Jan 2009, Umbra Jan 2011, Tears of the World Mar 2012, Styx Feb 2015, Oculus 2019
Any idea what’s happening with that re-release of the first demo?
I’m not too sure what’s happening with the demo. Bri said he would re mix and master it and then I’m doing a new cover and send it off to the bloke who wants it. [ Update – it’s back on ]
Are you a music equipment nerd? What guitar do you use? In fact, are you a nerd?
I’m half a nerd. You just do the best with what you got. The first recording was with an Epiphone Les Paul, but picked up a Gibson SG in a shop and it was like playing guitar again for the first time. The Gibson’s whole body reverberates and gives off a killer sound, whereas the Epiphone feels numb and dead in comparison. I thought guitar labels were just a capitalist conspiracy until I picked up the SG.
We were all supposedly anarchists back then, which could place us anywhere on the libertarian side of the political spectrum now. Where would you say your views are right now?
My views are pretty much the same as back in the day, although I’m a lot more pragmatic and a bit less ideological. My ecological views, most of which are covered with Corvus. I’m not going to sit here and preach; you turn on the t.v. and look out of the window to know how bad things are. You cannot rely on the government to do anything, it’s down to the individual.
How are you finding social media?
I don’t mind the social media; it’s a tool so I’m going to use it. I actually only log on once a day, so it does not overtake my life and I switch all the notifications off. It’s the same with anything, you just read between the lines and filter the bullshit out….99.9%. I prefer reading books anyway. The screen makes your eyes ache after a while.
Do you still listen to crust punk? What do you think of those modern crust punkers who dress completely in black and have all the black and white patches?
I still listen to punk but I do not really listen any new stuff. If I come across it, I will give it a listen. I don’t know enough about it, to have an opinion on it or their styles.
I don’t know anything about ‘crustpunk’, so I cannot really comment on that either. If you look as daft as me, you have no right to comment on what they look like. If they are genuine, so be it.
Any other music you like?
I kinda like anything really, just depends on what mood I’m in. At the moment I am listening to Agalloch and Triptykon a lot.
The singer of Agalloch fired his entire band and formed a new one apparently.
Ha, ha, ha, I did’nt know that. That’s singers for you!
Actually, Triptykon do a load of Celtic Frost songs live, they’re amazing. Can you get Tom Warrior’s guitar sound?
I think I could get an approximation of it, but I do not use his guitar. I’s an Ibanez I think??? They do killer seven string guitars. I wouldn’t mind getting one of those. The bottom string is a B string I think?? Basically, it’s a Marshall JCM800 with a Tube Screamer pedal and the bass tone on the guitar turned up…..or something like that?
If you are ever feeling like a nerd there’s a youtube channel called CircleofTone where a guy looks at all those setups – Carcass, Frost etc…..he recently got busted by Tony Iommi though for getting his guitar sound wrong...
I guess the sound you are after is pretty important for CORVUS, but I’m impressed with some of your riffs Pete ( for non-musicians, that’s the bit you are doing with your fingers ) – do you go into some kind of rural trance when you play?
Rural trance, doss! I usually make songs up before I go to bed. I play the guitar and just when I think, that’s it I’m off; a riff appears. Or when you a few light ales; it’s releasing the sub conscious that does it. I have never got the sound I want. The guitar never sounds right. It’s almost there. I have p90 pick ups on the sg, which give a sharp cutting sound; more early sabbath than the humbuckers…in my opinion. Humbuckers give a warm golden sound, p90’s a cold silver sound.
Do you ever get out for any gigs?
No. the last gig I went to was in Bristol (Electric Wizard 2008?) and I got a speeding fine! I live too far away to see bands. I would make the effort to see some bands I haven’t seen I suppose. I missed Black Sabbath…how?.. I just don’t know. Fuck it! You had to bring it up! Bollox!
Sorry for mentioning it. Is coming to terms with the life of normal people (normies) something you’ve managed ok?
Yes, I managed it ok, just moved away from them and have nothing to with ‘the herd’. When I left Brum, I lived in a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, with the nearest shop about a mile across fields and moving to south -west; people just get on with their own thing and leave you to your own devices. Eventually, we plan to move in a field with no roads nearby.
How do you feel about being middle aged now? Any plans for a sportscar and a polo neck?
I might get a polo neck; your neck gets cold in your middle age. As to a sport car; lend us a few quid! I don’t think about age. My mental age seems to get less and less as the years go by. I am saving for a motorbike tho’.
Cool – were you ever any good on a BMX? I did the longest skid on my estate once ( on a borrowed Raleigh Grifter )
I used to love my BMX. It was a real cheap one and weighed a ton, but it never broke. I was rubbish ( because of the shit bike of course) but I loved to go fast. ‘The Dell’ in Dorridge was the best place to break your bones. You would spend everyday down there on your holidays, all day.
What would you say to the 20-year-old Pete? Would you swap places?
I don’t know if I would say anything, you knew the score; I’d probably say, instead of waiting around for people to get their shit together, just go your own way sooner. I’d probably try harder to get the music done, rather than wasting time getting boozed up and watching shit films.
Do you have any pets?
No, I would have pets but I have no garden, so it would not be fair on the creature. Eventually, we will get a field in the middle of nowhere and get some.
What are the last five books you read?
‘The Walkers Guide to Outdoor Clues’. Tristan Gooley ( good book!) ‘Wonderland’, Bret Westwood and Stephen Moss, ‘Britain A.D’. Francis Pryor, ‘Limitless Sky’, David Manners, ‘Empire’, Jeremy Paxman.
I’m reading; ‘The Making of English Landscape’ W G Hoskins, Algernon Blackwood Complete Works, ‘Stations of the Sun’. R Hutton,
Next Five books; ‘Edgehill, Battle reinterpreted’. Scott ‘History of the Countryside’, O Rackham, ‘Britain BC’, Francis Pryor. ‘Natural Explorer’, Tristan Gooley
You read a lot. Some people just eat chips and watch the TV. What do you think of people who are always searching for a ‘hidden truth’?
Inquisitive! Searching for knowledge is an adventure, whether your reading it or Walking about. For me it is basically enjoying your existence. If people want to bum around and be robots, it’s up to them, it’s fucking boring for a start.
Best non-musical achievement?
Doing my own thing.
Do you drive?
Yes. It’s a Vauxhall Anus, 0-60 in about….actually, I don’t know if it can do sixty. My grandad left it to me and it’s perfect for bombing around country lanes. It looks like one of those disability cars from the seventies; the blue ones.
Plans for the future?
I’m going to start the next Corvus demo in the new year. It’s going to be much faster and more aggressive. Think ‘Monotheist. I say that, but it never turns out like you imagine, always sounds the same as before. I want to do songs for a side project, ‘Of the grave’ (stoner doom, based on the film Pychomania) and start working on soundscapes for ‘Dark Static’.
Pete, thanks for the interview mate, I’ll leave the last words to you.
Do it yourself, question everything.