Renowned for their feisty live show and colourful antics, Dublin punk band The Nilz tell me that they’re too controversial for mainstream attention, so they’ve given up on the idea and prefer to carve their own scene.
They’re doing an excellent job at that, roping in a bunch of gig exchanges that have seen them partner with punk acts in Sweden and Germany, and create a colourful scene that attempts to go island-wide.
As for their own music, it’s a rapid, furious gut-punch, just like these things are meant to be. I caught up with vocalist Eddie Nil and bassist Christ Dahmer to talk it all over…
Congrats on your successes so far. You seem to have done very well outside of Ireland. Do you think there’s a particular story there?
Eddie: Very hard work! It was Chris’ idea to start running our own gigs with the idea of it being a DIY gig swap deal which has led to us forming strong relationships with other bands throughout Ireland, in Germany and especially in Sweden.
Chris: Yeah it happened pretty naturally by working with overseas bands of a similar mindset to ourselves
In my experience, the Irish punk scene receives very little media attention outside of very niche circles. Yet it does really well more broadly. What do you think the story is with that?
Eddie: well the media i.e. NME have their heads up their holes when it comes to actual Irish Punk, but look I know as well as most us DIY bands don’t put ourselves out there as much as we could.
A recent band who unfortunately broke up, Shithätt, should’ve had the music press & radio stations fawning over them but it didn’t happen & they broke up too soon.
We’re in the luxurious position of being too controversial for certain sites, publications & venues to have anything to do with us, so we’re in no danger of “Selling out” HAHA whatever that is.
Chris: The Irish punk scene and bands have always done fairly well in spite of pretty much no media attention really, the reality is the people who are interested will seek out and find the bands and gigs they’re looking for especially with everything being on the internet.
Talk me through the EPs so far, and in particular the ‘Welcome To Toybox’ release earlier this year…
Eddie: Well ‘Welcome to the Toybox’ is a direct result of our gig swap network. We hooked up with Deadlamb records who asked us to put on Zooparty from Sweden, who in turn put us in touch with our Swedish brothers ExistenZ, who were signed to Heptown records (deep breath) that’s how the split happened on 2 labels.
As for the song of the same name it was inspired by David Ray Parker. the Toybox Killer.
Punk obviously has a huge history of protest. Is that aspect very inbuilt in the band?
Eddie: well that’s a little complicated. We did start as an apolitical band, but the recent shift in world politics to the right has brought my left-wing socialist upbringing to the fore for me anyway. As regards protest, I think our stage show is 2 fingers up to any norm anywhere. Also, the ridiculously named OMGFT is about Buenaventura Durutti, a personal hero of mine
Chris: For me a there’s a constant back and forth between the need for protest and the futility of it. When you look at the state the world is in at the moment, how useless we are at grappling with issues, it becomes clearer that the time to start really changing our approach was a long time ago. So let’s party while the world burns.
How important are slots like The Exploited support slot in terms of getting your name out there?
Eddie: I hated doing that gig. I’m not a fan of dinosaurs like The Exploited & Wattie being an ex squaddie stuck in my craw, but it was good for the band to do that support slot, a lot of people who would never turn up at a DIY gig went to that gig and we got to play to them, which is sad in a way.
Chris: I’d have to agree with Ed, it can become disheartening to see the numbers some of the classic bands pull, then all the studded jackets and belts and mohawks get put away until the next collection of dinosaurs are playing a gig.
You put a lot of weight on your live show. What makes it stand out?
Eddie: We as a band put our bodies & well being on the line. It’s hard not to say “it has to be seen” to get a true sense of it but ya have to see it, I could list off what’s supposed to happen, but when the kids decide they want blood they get it.
Talk me through your videos – they’re quite a full-on world!
Eddie: They’re all done by ourselves, out of our own heads except the ‘Always The Quiet Ones’ which was our idea but was filmed & edited by Hugh Mulhern who went on to work with Fontaine’s DC
Chris: The videos are so much fun, Eddie’s creativity with them never ceases to amaze me, and it’s great that we’re able to do it ourselves at this stage and run with any ideas we have.
You’ve set up your own promotion company. Is that a way of developing the Irish scene?
Eddie: In short, yes. We optimistically thought that we could try to bridge the gap between the two separate camps in Dublin, as we had a foot in both. We ended up creating our thing with a friendly and far from serious attitude. Well, I like to think it is anyway.
Chris: The punk scene I grew up in was island-wide, with bands from every corner of the country, and I’ve always felt it important to work with everyone working around the country to put on gigs and keep the scene vibrant and alive.
What’s been your favourite moment as a band so far?
Eddie: That’s a tough one, probably being on tour in Sweden, and reading fans comments about me spitting piss on a punter at Knockanstockan, but if I’m being dead honest it’s probably Chris approaching me after a gig and saying he was interested in playing guitar for us, none of the other stuff would’ve happened if he hadn’t.
Chris: Eddie pissing on yer man at knockanstockan. Hands down.
How far off is a full-on debut album?
Eddie: It’s written!! Just need to get it tight in rehearsals, then record it but who can say in this climate.
Chris: Yeah, it’s pretty frustrating having so much material ready to go and not being able to do it.
What are your other hopes for the future?
Eddie: Get the album out, get touring, get partying, get busy living again.