I first saw punk band Dream Nails three years ago. It was at Glastonbury, in this secret pink tent that resembled a giant womb (look: I wrote about it here), and they were performing to a crowd of women and non-binary people passed out on bean bags, or else drinking gin and dancing.
They played a year later, too. I wasn’t there to see that show, but they tell me about it when I ring them. Apparently two members of the band hooked up with people. But after the festival, they were both ghosted. “We were on a festival fucking comedown, and they’d just been ghosted. It was just a very sombre atmosphere,” Janey, who fronts the band, tells me, laughing.
After that, they wrote a track about it – “Chirpse Degree Burns (Text Me Back”), which we’re premiering below. It started out as a cathartic thing to take the piss out of the whole experience, but then it bloomed into more. “We played it live and it went down so well, we were like ‘maybe we should hold onto this song?’” Anya, the guitarist, says. “What’s funny about it is I don’t think there’s any other song out there that: A) admits that anyone’s been ghosted, and; B) acts so desperate about it?” she continues. “But whenever I have a conversation with a friend about being ghosted, it’s exactly the same emotional journey that they’re going through.”
She’s not wrong. If you've never felt the anxiety of seeing someone online who hasn’t replied in literally 24 hours, you're probably a sociopath. It happens to the best of us. “Chirpse Degree Burns” takes all that inner turmoil – which is shitty, but can also be quite funny – and holds it up to the light. “Two blue ticks, two blue ticks / first it was a kiss, and now it’s two blue ticks,” Janey chants over acoustic guitar. It’s absurd, yes, but it's also relatable.
What's also interesting about this song is how much it sounds like it could have been plucked from another era – Janey's vocals recall punk bands like The Slits, or riot grrrl bands like Bikini Kill – but it's a very modern conundrum, perhaps the most modern conundrum. “What we've always tried to do, when it comes to our riot grrrl inspirations, is to heavily update it,” Anya says, when I put this to her. “It was an amazing movement, we love all those bands, but they weren't always intersectional feminists, there wasn't a lot representation of musicians from different backgrounds.”
“But also, with technology, it's just another way for humans to be shitty really isn't it?” Janey adds, “Technology just gives us more tactics to fuck each other over…”
After our conversation, Dream Nails tell me they're going to write some songs together in Anya's Hackney flat. They've been working on their first proper album (they've released a bunch of mixtapes and one-off releases on Bandcamp, but nothing that has felt like a line in the sand), so that's how most of 2019 will be spent. Honing what they've got. Writing new stuff. And hopefully – hopefully for all of us, actually – not getting haunted by those two blue ticks.
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