Glimpses of the South Florida Scene is a weekly column devoted to the
artists thriving within Broward and Palm Beach counties featuring
interviews with the folks making it happen. This week ex-Miami's Nerve City.
Nerve City is reverberating, lo-fi, almost-folk sung through a drainpipe and punctuated by cackling ("Bars") and moments of soft eeriness ("Sleepwalker"). This project of ex-Poison the Well guitarist Jason Boyer sounds rough around the edges but never too harsh. Though Boyer -- along with whomever he performs with when he plays shows here -- regularly performs locally, he lives in Richmond, Virginia, where he has churned out a debut full-length on Vancouver-based label Sweet Rot and his latest EP, Sleepwalker. Miami is his former home, so don't be fooled by his MySpace's misleading "Miami, FL" location listing. However, because he represents and frequents South Florida so hardcore, including Nerve City as a "local" act wasn't too far a stretch. Nerve City opens for an act featuring another former South Floridian with Poison the Well ties, Sleigh Bells, on Thursday at Respectable Street.
New Times: First of all, have you seen this video? Somebody made a video of Anna Karina dancing to one of your tracks!
Jason Boyer: Yeah, my buddy Mike made that a while back. He was, or still is, a film student, and from what I've seen, a Godard nut.
Who is Nerve City -- I know it's a one-man project, but I heard Ryan Primack of Poison the Well is involved. He is Florida-based, and you are Virgina-based; how does it work? Do you travel back and forth?
No, I don't travel back and forth for this. Nerve City is the name that I gave to a collection of songs that I recorded at home a few years ago. When I was ready to make a demo of some of these songs, it seemed appropriate. So the songwriting, playing, and recording up to this point has been done by me. The closest thing I have to a true bandmate is Jake Berry. He plays drums and lives in Baltimore. We did the Red Tops seven-inch together, and he plays most of the shows. Ryan is a good friend of mine, probably the best guitarist I know, and when schedules permit, he plays the live shows with us. I'd love to have him around for the writing process, but unfortunately, the distance makes that difficult. I'm always playing with different people in different places. Everyone's pretty spread out. It's all about hanging out with friends and finding new dynamics for the same songs.
In the same vein, what's your connection to Florida? When and why did you move from Miami to Virginia? Were you making music as Nerve City here at all?
I grew up in Miami. I lived there until my early 20s. I got an opportunity to bail and jumped at it. That was in '04. I was feeling really isolated down there. My interests weren't really in line with the majority, and I actually started to feel self-conscious about it. I don't make a lot of money. I'm not very muscular. I don't smell great. I had to settle somewhere that was slightly more livable for me. I can work four days a week in Richmond and still live comfortably. I mean, I'm broke, but I feel no pressure. No traffic, no car, cheap rent, you can walk to the corner bar, friendly people. I initially moved there to be with my would-be ex-wife. She owns a house there. After we split, I got to know the town on my own terms and grew quite fond of it. So yeah, it's not permanent, but it's home for now. All that said, it took me leaving to really appreciate Miami. I visit often and have a fucking blast when I'm there. Sometimes I end up staying for months.
Now that the Florida background bit is out of the way, how did Nerve City evolve? What were you working on before?
I've played in a bunch of bands throughout the years. Mostly hardcore bands. After a while, I wanted to explore some other interests, so I started making home recordings. I was just trying stuff out. I honestly thought I was just doing demos that would later be fleshed out by a full band. But as time passed, I just kept recording and eventually made a demo and then tapes and records and so on.
Tell me about your tour in July. Is this your first tour? How excited are you about it?
Yeah, I'm psyched. Jake and I are touring as a two-piece. We're supporting Sleigh Bells for a couple of weeks. Derek, another Florida native and guitarist for Sleigh Bells, is a good friend of mine. So it should be a blast. They're doing so well right now. A bunch of the shows are sold out already. Fucking nuts. It'll be Nerve City's longest consecutive run since I starting doing shows in 2007. So that's pretty neat.
You've put out a lot of releases as of now, and I know you just finished an EP last month. Are you already thinking about future recordings and releases, and what can we expect?
Yeah, I've got some ideas. I released so much material in the past couple of years that I've taken a break from recording for a while. I've just started writing and doing demos again. I'm gonna hang out for a while and just make some solid songs. I don't have much planned in the way of releases this year, so I'm going to use the time to do some shows and get a nice, tight record together. I think the next one's gonna be recorded in a proper studio, but we'll see.
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There's a lot of lo-fi home recording projects, but yours is especially gritty and great. What's the recording and songwriting process like for you -- technically and mentally speaking?
Thanks. Yeah, it's crazy. It's almost a genre in itself. I just like getting fucked up and playing songs. Like I said, I have three straight days off every week. I don't have money, and I don't really get out much. So I just kinda shut myself in and hang out, mess around with ideas, tinker with cables and things, effects, melodies, hooks, cigarettes, booze, maybe record a crappy cover of a song I like... That's pretty much how it goes. It's pretty all over the place.
Any post-tour summer plans for you?
Not really. A couple of one-off shows in the works. Maybe a water park or two. A lot of sweating. Hanging out in our inflatable pool.