What’s On Michael Portillo’s iPod: USA Nails

Here at Birthday Cake For Breakfast, we like to get to the heart of what an artist is all about. We feel the music they listen to is just as important as the music they make. With that in mind, we’re delighted to have USA Nails discuss five releases that shaped their upcoming LP!

Number 1: The Slits’ album Cut (1979)

Gareth (guitar): “Wall to wall bangers. No macho punk bullshit, just amazingly weird beautifully crafted belters. Way ahead of its time obviously and chock full of hooks and finger-pointers. It’s ugly and elegant, which is kind of what I strive for too I guess. I was listening to this a lot when we recorded Shame Spiral and failed really badly in trying to rip off Viv Albertine’s parts, which I guess is a good thing in retrospect.”

Number 2: Arab on Radar’s album Soak The Saddle (2000)

Matt (drums): “Arguably one of the most vile, monotonous, twisted and gloriously abrasive albums of all time. I’ve been hooked from the moment an old friend thrust a copy in my face and said watching them play live was like “witnessing a live murder on stage”. 10 years later and I still return to this album regularly like some sort of pleasurable torture or audio bondage perhaps? Probably not, but it has helped to teach me the age old value of ‘less is more’, which as far as USA Nails is concerned, is almost our mantra. We’ve definitely made a conscious effort to strip back any overindulgent flare and dial up intensity instead. Rest in pieces Arab On Radar.”

Number 3: Wire’s album Chairs Missing (1978)

Steven (vocals/guitar): “Wire’s Chairs Missing was a big influence on my guitar parts for this album. I tried to play less parts in each song, or more repetitive things. The song that stands out for me on that album is ‘Mercy’, it has so many dynamics, it always sounds new and exciting to me even though I’ve heard it thousands of times.”

Number 4: Shipping News’ album One Less Heartless To Fear (2010)

Dan (bass): “I found myself going to this album as a reference for Shame Spiral. It sounds great and has a warmth to it. It sounds like a banging demo. The bass has a simplicity to it which I love. Stand out track ‘(Morays Or) Demon’.”

Number 5: Objekt’s album Flatland (2014)

Gareth: This record is super brutal and atmospheric and for the most part really abstract. I find it helpful to listen to stuff like this, as it challenges the musical conventions that I’m often guilty of taking as given. Although our record doesn’t sound anything like Flatland, reflecting on the innovation and creativity on this record, really helped in deconstructing my approach to writing and playing. Not that I’m claiming our album is in anyway as interesting or original as this. But just imagine how boring it would have been otherwise. Maybe you’ll think it’s boring anyway, in which case – sorry.”

‘Shame Spiral’ is out June 16th on Hominid Sounds (UK) and Bigoût Records (France)!

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