whynow is the time to listen to… The Nightmares

This goth-pop quartet used Ouija boards and seances to write their new debut album. Matt Mills interviews bassist Benjamin Mainwaring and explores the Welshmen’s obsession with the paranormal, as part of our series on emerging acts.

The Nightmares

Apparently there were some spooky goings-on when you were writing your new album, Seance

It was our singer and guitarist, Adam [Parslow], whose wife Eleanor [Coburn], is on vocals and keys. During lockdown – through boredom, I guess – they started experimenting with that kind of world. One particular experience knocked them a lot after that. It seemed to shake them up a little bit for quite some time. That obviously had an impact and they were rocked for a few weeks afterward.

The Nightmares

Photo: Jon Wilson

What happened?

When they were doing the actual seance itself, things started moving and then the lights were flickering. Whether it’s a coincidence, you don’t know. They definitely felt a strange presence in the room, which sounds strange to talk about, but as they tell it, there was a tangible feeling that something was there. 

In the days and weeks that followed, Ellie was having night terrors. She was waking up suddenly, that kind of thing. They do believe that something shook them. What that was, we don’t know. It had an effect on the writing, because we’re all interested in the dark arts and the macabre. It all fed into the writing.

The Nightmares

Photo: Jon Wilson

In what ways does that experience actually come across on the album?

A lot of the songs on there are in the spooky realm. ‘It Follows’ is actually based on the movie It Follows, but [the experience] definitely lyrically informed it. ‘From Above’ is obviously in that world. That’s probably the most we used the experience – we used the experience for the video. 

There’s a song called ‘Pink and Grey’ as well, which alludes to those experiences. It’s got more hope in it, though: it’s a brighter song than some of the others.

The Nightmares

Photo: Leo Davut

Where did your obsession with the spooky start?

I definitely think it was watching Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas when I was younger. When I was a kid I would point out anyone with tattoos to my parents. I was always drawn to larger-than-life things, like Kiss and Mötley Crüe and then, later, Avenged Sevenfold. I always enjoyed things with a larger-than-life feel. 

I was drawn to Tim Burton-esque things growing up and then, as I got older, darker horror films. It becomes a world that you can create around you because, if you’re a young person that isn’t particularly happy with the world around you, you create your own. I didn’t have a bad childhood per se, but I was an only child, so my imagination was my escape. In a way, I still live in my own world.

The Nightmares

How do you go from Mötley Crüe and Avenged Sevenfold to a more downbeat style of pop-rock?

I never actually played metal at all. That’s just one side of me; there are different facets to everyone, I’d say. Growing up, the band that changed my life was Blink-182. At that time, they informed my personality, that sort of thing. I have a wide variety of musical interests. I love Placebo and The Cure, so there are other sides of me. We all have different influences. I listen to Him and Ville Vallo, but I love Good Charlotte. Lots of different aspects come into it.

How did The Nightmares form?

James [Mattock], our drummer, was in a band called Sharks. They were pretty big in the punk world: they did the Warped Tour and Blink-182 tours in Australia. He’s from Coventry and moved to Newport because he met a girl. Around the same time, Adam had finished a previous project and was engaged to Eleanor. Adam reached out to myself and James, because we knew James was talented and Adam and I had been friends since we were 15.

What was the vibe in the band while making a debut album?

We were very focussed. One positive thing that came out of lockdown was the ability to really knuckle down and write the record, which we did fully during lockdown, over Zoom. I’m not sure the album writing would’ve been as focussed otherwise. 

We’ve been sitting on it for a while now – we recorded it in April 2021 – so it’s been a couple of years now. We’re very focussed and we know what we want. When we went into the studio, we knew exactly what we wanted.

The Nightmares

Photo: Jon Wilson

This is the part of the interview where I ask you to end on a big, confident, sexy quote about how your band are going to rule the fucking world. With that in mind, what are The Nightmares’ goals when it comes to popularity?

We really want to leave a mark on this entire time period. We are different to a lot of bands at the moment. We don’t use a backing track, so we’re probably a bit of a throwback. We have our ‘80s post-punk influences and 2000s ones, like Alkaline Trio. 

I want people to remember us and join us in our world. We want to be more than just a band – something you can really grasp. And, in 10 years, I want people to look back and go, ‘Yeah, that was good.’

Seance is out now via Venn Records.

Leave a Reply

More like this