If you like your music loud, discordant and uncomfortable, Steven Hodson is your man.
NO FUN is the new solo project from Steven, guitarist and vocalist in the tremendous London based noise collective USA Nails. When he’s not caving in skulls with horrid riffs as one quarter of Nails, he’s at home in his living room, making nightmarish bedroom beats.
He’s just put out ‘Photocopier Waltz’ – the debut album under this new moniker. With lyrical themes looking at the tedious frustrations we experience in our everyday lives, Photocopier Waltz was put together quickly and without much fuss.
The ten track album is heavy on jarring beats and semi-piss-take titles and vocals; an underlying sense of dread in each one. ‘Gloss’ sounds like what would be playing in someone’s head if they finally cracked and took to the high street with a large hammer…Dark stuff.
Artwork for Photocopier Waltz was produced by USA Nails drummer Matt Reid, who will be exhibiting his work alongside Steven and the other members of USA Nails this March in London and Leeds. Details of the ‘No Frills’ exhibition can be found here.
With the release of Photocopier Waltz, I reached out to Steven to discuss his new project and the inner workings of the man threatening to ‘Gloss You Up’
BCFB: A friend of mine once asked the singer in a band if everything was alright, having listened to said band’s last release. First things first then Steven, is everything alright? That’s coming from a place of warmth, having just listened to ‘Photocopier Waltz’.
Steven: Everything is fine. Yes, I know the lyrics are a bit grim and cynical but they aren’t all autobiographical. Everyone gets frustrated with their job/home/political opinions etc. and this is my comment on the world. Plus, it is all a bit tongue in cheek. I’m not the most serious of people.
You’ve just put out your debut release under the ‘No Fun’ banner. What’s the story behind Photocopier Waltz then?
Ok, well I like to make music quickly. USA Nails make music very quickly and I love the collaborative element but I also want to make music on my own terms without using a guitar and without shouting. This album is still very much ‘Punk’ but it was written as it was recorded and took only a couple of days. The name, I guess it reflects the idea that I am venting with this music and it is sarcastic. I do find this fun. The album is a joke about work.
Did you have any particular ‘everyday frustrations’ that immediately inspired you to write? Smashing your shin off a low table or someone in front of you in the queue at Tesco taking an age to use the self-service, for example.
Ok, the current political climate had a big effect on me and I was massively annoyed at how the press covered both the Labour leadership election, the Syrian war and the resulting fleeing of Syrian people to apparent safer places. A few of the songs are about work demands and others about reality television. I have a real love/hate relationship with reality television. Especially those fake reality shows like Geordie Shore and The Only Way Is Essex. Andy Warhol was right when he said everyone will have 15 minutes of fame. Talent has been replaced with depravity and materialism.
What sort of stuff were you listening to when you were putting it together?
The first Suicide record and Iggy Pop’s ‘The Idiot’ were big influences on the sound. Also The Normal, Liars, Devo, Throbbing Gristle, Total Control and The Fall. I like the minimalistic approach to all of those artists and the idea that songs don’t have to be structured traditionally ala verse, chorus, verse, chorus, middle 8, chorus, chorus.
I remember speaking with you USA Nails chaps at ArcTanGent and you mentioned how ‘No Pleasure’ was put together relatively quickly, without much fucking about. Is that how you worked on this release as a solo artist?
As previously mentioned, I work quicker on my own as I don’t have to compromise. Don’t get me wrong, working with others is great and very fruitful. Here, I am working on first impulses. The music is made first then the vocals are improvised over the top.
How did the actual production side of things go – was it a proper DIY, back-bedroom project?
Living room. I used my laptop and a midi controller and ‘sang’ directly into the internal mic. I have also dubbed some cassettes to sell at Nails gigs. I would literally record 3/4 songs in a few hours without much thought. Some people may think that lack of effort makes for crap but I would disagree.
Have you any plans to ever perform this material live? Perhaps at the ‘No Frills’ exhibitions in London and Leeds?
Not really. It might take the fun out of it, removing it from it’s original context. I will be selling the album and a very limited 7 inch with 2 new songs on at the exhibition. Matt is keen to play a few songs in Nails but I don’t know if it would work. I don’t really see it as ‘band’ music.
You’ve got it up on Bandcamp as a ‘Name Your Price’ download. Let’s say even that is too much for some people – How would you pitch ‘Photocopier Waltz’ to the uninitiated?
Marketing isn’t my strong point so I’ll pass on this one.
Photocopier Waltz is available through Bandcamp now – click the album artwork below to pick up a copy.