It seems that slowly but steadily, Sydney has been producing some of the best heavy bands. NASHO is one of those bands. The Western Sydney four-piece exude a confidence in a mix-match, that oddly, but perfectly blends Royal Headache's ex-drummer, Dispossessed's guitarist, a freshly-landed UK punk guitarist from bands like Good Throb, and a bass player that's never been in a band before.
NASHO feels like the local band that we've been waiting for. There's something about their mix of savage hardcore, raucous vocals and unhinged dub-punk that's rampantly defiant. NASHO is the sonic critter that's here to save the day, spit at politicians and get us excited about heavy music again.
Members range in age from 19 to 37 and their cultural mix includes Ghana, UK, Pakistan and Australia but what unites and fuels them is a desire to make music that's loaded with political staunchness. Speaking of gentrification, displacement and capitalism in their lyrics, NASHO is aggressive and for good reason.
Ahead of their first show in Melbourne as part of Maggot Fest, we chat to Serwah (vocals), Shortty (drums), Heli (bass) and Bryony (guitar) to find out more and why time is ticking for you to be able to see them play.
Noisey: I'm sure you'll have to answer this a million times in interviews from now on, but what does NASHO stand for?
Heli: NASHO = "nationality". It's a pretty popular shorthand term used in Sydney's western suburbs. The name was conceived during a train commute to St. Marys, about an hour west of Sydney. I was asked by this random guy in his hi-vis polo, "OIII, WHAT NASHO ARE YAAA!?". After he slapped the palm of my hand and gave an awkward hug. I shot a message out to the gang thinking NASHO would be a fitting name that encapsulates our diverse presence as a unit.
How did the band form?
Heli: I've been in awe of Shortty's drumming since watching Royal Headache in a Redfern garage in 2010. Six years later, my former boss, casually mentioned that her daughter was in a relationship with Shortty. So I had to seize the opportunity to meet him and see if he was keen to jam. When I did, he was like, "Yeah! Of course! There's also my friend Bryony who's here from the UK that I'm gonna jam with. Come!".
Serwah: Heli asked me at a "Dirty South" hip-hop night if i wanted to do vocals for this project. Nek minnut here we are. But honestly, I'm mad happy that I joined.
Heli: It's funny. I was leaving when Serwah walked in, because I was getting annoyed with a group of white people shouting out the n-word during a few rap numbers. Talk about the stars aligning under frustrating circumstances.
Bryony: Shortty had been in touch before I landed in Sydney to suggest we make some music together. I'd moved here without knowing a single person so the promise of being able to make some music was a good way in.
To me you sound a mix between sludge metal and punk but how would you describe NASHO's sound?
Serwah: I would say NASHO sounds nostalgic to me, the dubb-y punk vocals and the hardcore makes me think of my early teenage years.
Bryony: That's very funny because I'm not much of a sludge gal, but this is my first time using a Metalzone pedal so perhaps that cuts through! I just wanted to play hardcore that doesn't send you to sleep.
Serwah, you are usually a guitarist but this is your first time doing vocals. How's the switch going?
Serwah: I've done some Bad Brains covers in DISPOSSESSED before. I always felt like I'm not a very vocal person in general so this is helping me speak my mind on a few things. There is some familiarity to it as I use guitar pedals on my voice to try to make it sound like old reggae and dub music. I can't actually stand the sound of my voice though where as guitar I can handle.
What's your main lyrical inspiration outside of music?
Serwah: I really just sit in my house and write random shit. I have full documents of stuff anywhere from gothic juggalo bandos to black non-binary and women supremacy. The stuff I write for NASHO deals with themes of slavery, diaspora, gentrification, land trauma, capitalism and KKKop killing.
For a new band how has Sydney's lock out laws affected the punk/heavy scene?
Shortty: The lockout debate has been talked about way too much, hey. It's not exactly a pressing human rights issue. But no doubt it's affected the late night economy including places to play music. It isn't easy for new bands/musicians regardless of genre who aren't tapped into a 'scene'.
What's far more worrying is the context of the lockouts as an element of a larger neo-liberal agenda to completely displace minority communities out of the inner city. It's easy to trace these huge property development companies that influence state government decisions, ensuring the transformation of former late night precincts (as well as public housing estates), into high rise enclaves exclusively for the wealthy. It's a continuation of the displacement that first nations people have experienced since colonisation.
What's plans for the band for the next months and what's your biggest goal at this stage?
Bryony: It's interesting to make a band where there's pretty much no exact cultural, generational or musical match between us but we share the same politics and that brings us together more than any surface interests. It'd be great to use that shared worldview to do some good stuff. Given I can only be here until August 2018 we just wanna play and do as much as possible.
Heli: To help Bryony find a way to stay here longer!
Shortty: Renegade shows in random outdoor public spaces around Sydney this summer.
NASHO play Oct 28 at the Tote in Melbourne as part of Maggot Fest VIII.
Follow NASHO on Instagram: @Nashogram