For three years, Nosebleed have been gallivanting around the country, bewildering audiences with their energetic live performances. They play lo-fi punk ‘n’ roll with panache, with a reputation for being band-of-the-night even when they’re not top of the bill.
Their live shows defy comparison: it’s something you need to experience for yourself. Ben and Eliott are seemingly incapable of remaining on-stage and usually cause a ruckus by hauling their mic-stands and guitars into the crowd, continuing the show in the middle of the dancefloor. It goes far beyond the average pit-and-pyramid format seen at most punk gigs (although you get that too). Stylishly decked out in blue velour suits, western ties and polished brogues, visually they have more in common with a ‘50s variety show than the hardcore punk bills they tend to play.
Since 2014 they’ve also released two EPs and a Greatest Hits album Hit After Hit After Hit (which contains every song from the EPs). To say that every song they’ve recorded is a greatest hit isn’t an overstatement: they’re all infectious garage-punk bangers that’ll stick in your head for weeks on end.
I was lucky enough to have a natter with the northern trio ahead of their recent gig at The Smokehouse in Ipswich: Eliott Verity (guitar + vocals), Ben Hannah (bass + vocals) and Dicky Riddims (drums + massive grins).
They’re just as entertaining to talk to as they are on stage. Enjoy.
Welcome to Ipswich! We’re seriously excited for your set. Have you always done the jumping-out-in-the-crowd thing?
- Eliott: Yeah, from the very beginning we’ve done that.
- Ben: I think it started in London. It was the bar!
- Eliott: I was really thirsty [during our set in London] so I went to the bar, and I just carried on playing. And then it became a thing. I mean it kinda came from my brother, who was in a band called The Franceens. They did it a lot, and I thought, yeah, that’s cool. I’m doing that.
- Ben: You stole it.
- Eliott: We stole it. It made them go away, and now it’s just us.
Dicky, when Ben and Eliott are out cavorting in the crowd, you’re left all on your own on stage. Do you ever feel a bit left out?
- Dicky: Well, I always say that I come out to play music with my mates and I always end up sat on my own. No one recognises me.
- Eliott: No one knows who Dicky is. People walk past him to come to me, to say, “Is there someone here selling your merch?” Some guys asked Dicky, “Do you know anyone in Nosebleed who could sell me a t-shirt?”
- Ben: We were in Oldham last week. This guy comes up to me to say ‘good set’. He shook my hand and then just looked at Dicky and nodded. Dicky [looked a bit deflated] and the guy was like, “What was up with him?”
- Dicky: It’s awful. [Cracks up laughing]
Do you ever wish you could sit down and do a nice acoustic set?
- Eliott: Not even an acoustic set; I wish I could quit music.
- Ben: It was originally talked about for Boomtown. Alec and Laura Freestone [who run Last Gang In Town / Devil Kicks Dancehall] asked if we would be interested in playing acoustic, as they only normally put acoustic on The Last Stand… I can’t imagine how that would sound. I’m actually terrible at bass, I just hide it with distortion! Eliott solos all the time but it’d be a bit plinky-plonky on an acoustic guitar.
- Eliott: We could do one of the swing sets we’ve done: swing covers and stuff like that.
- Ben: We’ve recorded some lounge music.
- Eliott: But that’s just for us. It was going to be a ghost track on a CD but it never happened.
Two weeks ago Nosebleed played the Last Stand at Boomtown Fair on Eliott’s birthday. The videos of Eliott playing a song whilst hoisted on people’s shoulders, while Ben’s wrapped in a feather boa, went punk-scene-viral. Many people have said it was the best set at Boomtown, and Nosebleed were immediately offered a headline slot at Shambala festival off the back of it.
Everyone’s talking about your now infamous Boomtown set. How was it?
- Dicky: It was all the fun.
- Ben: It was really good, yeah. It was insane. [There were] people just stopping and gawping.
- Eliott: I don’t know if we knew what to expect, because a lot of the bands were ska, reggae, dubstep, EDM… whatever the kids are calling it. Trance. Techno! And then us.
- Ben: We were on The Last Stand (an outdoor acoustic stage). It’s weird playing outside. I think it was perfect for us though because we could get out [into the crowd]. Just before we got onstage, Jason from Matilda’s Scoundrels said [in a pirate voice], “I’ve opened the security gate for you so you can get out!” It was a nice tactic.
Watch Matilda’s Scoundrel’s Thomas Quinn’s video to see for yourself:
You’ve done a lot of shows this year. We’ve already talked about Boomtown – what have been the other highlights?
- Ben: York.
- Eliott: Yeah, Swinefest [in York]. Manchester Punk Festival.
- Ben: It’s all been pretty crazy.
On the Friday of this year’s Manchester Punk Festival Sound Control (the main venue) reached capacity while Strike Anywhere were headlining on the Friday. Unfortunately, there were still quite a few people queuing outside who couldn’t get in. Nosebleed saved the day by playing an impromptu set in The Zombie Shack.
- Ben: Big Hands [ROTPM’s drummer] came up to me and said, “Right, we’ve got a bit of a problem. We’ve got some people who can’t get in and there’s nothing else on at the moment for them to go see. We need someone to play a set now.” And I was like okay, how long have we got? He said, “Now. We need you in there right now.” We didn’t have all our gear there. I went to Dicky first, and said, “Dicky, how drunk are you?”
- Dicky: “I’m fine!” I said.
- Ben: So I said, “Are you ready to play a set now?” and he just goes, “I’m very drunk.”
- Dicky: [Looking remorseful] Oh God, I didn’t even know what songs we were playing.
- Eliott: He forgot our set. We shouted, “It’s Alright!” [one of their song-titles] to Dicky and he just said, “I know!”
- Ben: That set was fun for different reasons. It was just silly. It was a dress down gig. Casual.
- Dicky: There was a band playing when we got up [to Zombie Shack] to get ready. I thought they were playing properly until I saw them the next day, and it turned out they’d just been sound-checking.
- Eliott: It was a Clash covers set as well. He was dancing by himself to their sound-check, like a fucking idiot.
- SL: But you survived the set?
- Dicky: Just about. People still crowd-surfed though, so that’s fine.
This video of their actual, planned set at MPF is well worth a watch (credit to Paul Hannah for the awesome video):
I’ve been reliably informed by Zoe and Shawn of Casual Nausea that frisbee is your drug of choice. Tell me more.
- Ben: Yep.
- Eliott: We were playing frisbee with The Casual Nauseas where Ben and I live, and some bigger boys came up – they weren’t really bigger boys, they were just rough Leeds children – and they said [in a rough voice], “Are you lot on drugs?” I just turned around to them and said [respectably], “Frisbee is my drug.”
- Ben: “We don’t do drugs. Frisbee is my only drug. We’re high on frisbee.”
- Eliott: Yep. “We’re high on frisbee.” I’ve never felt more stupid in my fucking life.
- Ben: I think it was one of those moments where [the kids] thought it was so weird that they didn’t bother and just left.
- Eliott: But we ran inside anyway.
I’ve also heard rumours that Ben’s a magician.
- Ben: Who told you that?!
- Eliott: It’s because you wouldn’t stop banging on about it that morning [with Casual Nausea]. You were gagging to get your magic kit out.
- Ben: I did magic when I was short of money at uni. I thought I’d go to some balls and do some close-up magic. I got paid and got put up in fancy hotels.
- Dicky: Can you do any magic for us now?
- Ben: No.
- Dicky: None at all?
- Ben: I’m not getting paid, am I?
Have the other two of you got any hidden talents?
- Dicky: I’m really good at sleeping. I can give you some tips.
- Ben: Dicky can play the spoons.
- Dicky: Oh yeah, I can.
- Ben: See, I know more about you than you think.
I feel like you’re dressed for a magic show, in those suits.
- Eliott: We just dress how I used to dress for work, because it was just easier to set up for gigs.
- Ben: He used to dress like a right pratt for work some days.
You guys play some sweat-dripping-from-the-ceiling gigs and yet you’ve always got the suits on. How bad do those suits smell?
- Dicky: Really, really, really bad.
- Eliott: We walked into a room in Manchester recently and someone walked out. “It fucking stinks in here.” Gone.
- Ben: We change our suits every time we do a record. The embarrassment of our smell is the incentive to write more material. At the moment it’s pretty stanky to be honest.
So your last release was in August 2016…
- Ben: Yes! Last proper one.
- Dicky: Greatest Hits. We’ve already got a greatest hits record.
- Eliott: It’s quite tongue in cheek. We didn’t want to re-press the first two [EPs] so we lumped them together and did Hit After Hit After Hit with some songs that Dicky recorded with us.
- Ben: It’s our longest release – it’s nineteen minutes.
- Eliott: I don’t think it’s nineteen minutes, I think it’s longer than that.
- Dicky: Really?!
- Ben: There’s less minutes than there is songs.
- [N.B. Hit After Hit After Hit contains every Nosebleed song, and clocks in at an impressive 34 minutes.]
Have you considered writing any song that last longer than two minutes?
- Eliott: I don’t understand the point in it. It just gets boring after a bit, doesn’t it?
- Ben: Well, we write songs in five minutes.
- Dicky: I’ve never been in a band like it. I’ll be like, “Can we just practice this again?” And they’re like, “It’s done.” We’re done.
- Eliott: It gets rid of all the shit.
For a band whose average song-length is 1:40, a 45-minute set is a lot of time, even with their onstage antics. That’s the set-time they’re faced with at The Smokehouse in Ipswich later in the night, they’ve got the solution: Eliott suggests to Ben and Dicky that they play Everyone, which neither of them know and which doesn’t have any lyrics. Instead they make it up on the spot, effectively writing a new song mid-set. It’s an impressive feat, not least because the song’s really bloody good.
Everyone loves Nosebleed: you’re getting quite well known now. You’re going to be on bigger stages. Do you worry about that?
- Eliott: I said that to Ben this morning. What are we going to do? Because we’ve started playing festivals now. When we played Outcider, Ben got shouted at for going off-stage. We’re going to have to think of a new gimmick, otherwise people are going to realise that we’ve just been playing the same stuff for three years.
- Ben: Instead of going out we’re just going to have to start climbing stuff.
As well as the band, Nosebleed are heavily involved in the DIY punk scene. With his old band, Acid Drop Ben also organises Pie Race Festival – a three-day punk marathon at Wharf Chambers in Leeds. This year it’s taking place on November 10-12th. The line-up features Ducking Punches, Matilda’s Scoundrels and Pizza Tramp, with more to be announced.
- Ben: We used to put on the occasional show, but we’re too busy now.
- Eliott: We’re always out on the road playing other people’s shows.
- Ben: That’s what Pie Race was originally for. In [Acid Drop] people kept putting us on loads of gigs, so we couldn’t do gig swaps because we were too busy gigging… So we just said, “Shall we just put 30 bands on in one day?” And that’s what we did.
- Dicky: What year is it now? Is it 5 or 6?
- Ben: It’s 2017.
- Ben: I think it’s the 8th festival now? We started in 2010. We had two one year and missed one year. So it’s 7. Yeah, that’s right isn’t it? Maths is not my hidden talent.
I’ve not been to Pie Race before, but I’ve already got my ticket for this year. What can I expect?
- Ben: People hanging from the ceilings, in a good way. By the end of the weekend everyone tends to be mates. It’ll be good, good atmosphere.
- Eliott: Pies.
- Ben: Pies. Cheap drinks.
Let’s look ahead. Where do you see Nosebleed in 10 years?
- Eliott: We’ll have reached the very top. I’ll have had a breakdown. [Ben] will have done rehab and will be back to drinking again. I’ll have been in an institution. So, in 10 years we’ll be ready for the reunion.
- Ben: Dicky will be waiting out in Brazil for us to get better.
- Eliott: Dicky will have run off with all the merch money. That’s your payment for not being recognised.
- Dicky: It’s fine, no one would recognise me, I could sneak out of the country.
- Eliott: There you go: Nosebleed re-union show in 10 years. We’ll headline Reading and Leeds.
Nosebleed will be recording a new album in October that’s due for release in April, and they’re planning a massive tour to go alongside it plus a huge launch-party in Leeds.
If you can’t wait that long, check out Hit After Hit After Hit or the two individual EPs on their Bandcamp page for your listening pleasure. They’ve just done a fresh run of merch in Eliott’s own designs, essential all-season attire for any self-respecting punk. They’ve probably already sold out, because it’s that cool, but keep an eye on their Facebook page for more.
Thanks very much to Nosebleed to chatting, and to Mark @ Tiny Squares Photography for the lovely pictures.