Nuns of the Tundra are the fuzzy rock DIY band you need to know about. After a wave of line-up changes the Bristol based band have settled with their strongest formation to date. Creating tracks with infectious riffs their music is designed to be played loud and proud. Like many bands, Nuns were hit with a series of show cancellations in 2020 and with a series of challenges around recording, the band have done themselves proud. The Worlds Gone Crazy and So Have I will be the first release since the band’s 2019, Sign in Blood. This upcoming EP marks a strong and much awaited comeback for the band and one that fans will be counting down the days for. Nuns of The Tundra are truly one of the most exciting up and coming bands to be paying attention to right now.
Rock Sins got to know band members Troy, Tom and Dan, to find out more about the world of Nuns of The Tundra.
First off, what’s the story behind the Nuns of the Tundra?
Troy: I moved back to my hometown and most of my mates were in Bristol. I had all of this time on my hands that usually I’d just be using going out and having fun, I had just got out of a band called Atoms, which was kind of a really tight rock/pop band and I was the lead guitar. I’d never sang or been the front man before and decided that next time, after learning a lot from being in different bands, that I wanted to give it a go. So, before it was a project or anything, it was what I was filling my time with, I was just posting demos to Reddit. I think it was the demo for Hidden Eraser that got pretty good responses, so I just kept going and after a while it turned into something I did with my friend Aaron.
We made all these tunes and we got to the point where we were sending out demos to Reddit and it was getting really good reactions, we we’re getting top spot of the guitar forum and it would stay there for a few days as the top post, and that’s when we knew we were onto something that people really liked. So, from that we decided we needed a serious name because we we’re called Nilbog before that, which is goblin backwards…My favourite word was tundra and I think it still is, it’s such a sick word and Aaron had a fascination with nuns. He wanted us to be called Nympho Nuns, which again is not bad, so that’s where Nuns of the Tundra came from.
You’ve had a massive line-up change, are you feeling more settled as a band now?
Troy: We went through a lot of members. This band has changed dramatically. I think we’re on the third major version, and hopefully the last version. I’d say this is definitely my favourite line up. No offence to the guys before, I just think this line up vibes so well together. With any other formation I don’t think we would’ve been able to get into that studio and do three songs so well in the space of two days. To start with, it was just like anyone in the area please be in a band with me, but as time went on and we got a bit of clout, it was easier to really choose our members and I’m really happy with where we are now. Finn got recommended to me, Tom I’ve known for ages and has been in a band that I really like, and Dan I’ve known for a while from being online and he just vibed so well with our sound.
2020 was a difficult year for the music industry, but you kept going and kept fans excited and wanting more. What would be your advice for other musicians who may be struggling?
Tom: I think it’s not so broad as just musicians, it’s people in general. It’s been hard for everyone this past year, but just talking to people, a lot of people who I haven’t spoken to in a long time you find that you reconnect with people. In terms of musicians, just keep practicing your craft. A lot of people are on furlough, so you’ve got plenty of time to pick up the instrument and play. Troy has done a lot of work in the background with our merch and CD’s that are due to come out. He’s done such a good job on it. We’ve got something to aim for with promoting, we’ve got the EP coming out and a couple of singles, so where you can’t play gigs you’ve gotta put out what you’ve got. We’ve got plenty of ammo to go forward.
Live stream gigs became a thing in 2020 to keep us going without actual shows, did you catch any?
Tom: One of my friends from Bristol is in a band with two of the old members from Chronographs called Poisonous Birds and they did one coupled with Audiotree. I love all of the Audiotree stuff anyway. So, the fact that one of my friends has done one of those is unbelievable.
Troy: My dad hosts one actually at his studio called V-Sessions, he’s been doing it for local bands in the Malvern/Worcester area and they’ve been quite cool. He’s got all this camera stuff because he’s a camera man by trade. So, it’s all set up really professional. I’ve watched a couple of those. For me, most of the fun is being around other people. It’s difficult because I wanna do live streams, we were gonna do one, but things have shifted and making them as involved as possible is hard. If it does stay like this, I’m definitely gonna have to change my mind set on that, cos we’ll be left behind or I won’t get to watch any live music.
Tom: There was one for Architects, they did it at Ally Pally. Just watching that, it was the top end of where you could go for live shows and it was unbelievable. I think with us we’d love to get involved with live streams, but because we’re quite a new band we’ve learnt these three songs together, but then to go into a live stream where you’re expected to play more… we can’t practice material, so we’re fucked basically.
Troy: I’ve seen some ‘live streams’, it’s like they’ve recorded themselves playing, but it’s not live broadcasting it. I could see us being able to pull something like that.
Dan: I’ve joined for the reruns of stuff and Queens of The Stone Age releasing their acoustic show. They weren’t live, but it was exciting to be watching new stuff.
BBC Introducing has been a big support for so many artists over the years, what’s your story with them?
Troy: A good one!
Dan: The EP!
Troy: We’ve always had a really good support locally. The area the band started in, Hereford and Worcester…the guy that runs that Andrew Marston… he’s so hands on with the bands in his area. Through BBC Introducing we’ve got to play at festivals before, we’ve been shortlisted for playing SXSW in Austen, Texas and The Great Escape in Brighton and it’s led to us being played by Steve Lamacq on BBC radio 6 and BBC Radio 1 by Huw Stephens. So that was absolutely massive for us.
We went down to BBC Introducing Live, one of the reasons was to thank Huw Stephens in person, which we got to do, but also, just to network. We got really lucky, I just put my band’s number and Spotify down with this guy from Kore Studios to win free recording time and I didn’t really think much of it, then months later it turns out that we won and that’s where our EP has come from. You know that was great that we won, but if I didn’t believe BBC Introducing would have some benefit I wouldn’t have gone. The support for artists from BBC Introducing is amazing.
“I THINK THAT’S THE BIGGEST PIECE OF ADVICE I COULD GIVE TO ANYONE, JUST DON’T STOP.”
What was one of the most interesting take aways from the BBC Introducing live event?
Troy: Interestingly I was wearing a badge for a band we actually saw together, Calva Louise, and I was talking to this girl and it turns out she was roommates with them and Strange Bones. It’s this house of cool bands basically. It just felt like all of these personalities that really cared were there. The Mysterines who’re blowing up right now, they were doing a set. We watched Catfish and The Bottle men who had a session where they were asked questions by Steve Lamacq and that was sick hearing how they got started and their philosophy and stuff. It was a really nice way of feeling closer to these artists, and their stories aren’t dissimilar to ours. I feel like that would be the same story for a lot of artists. One of the main differences is that they just never stopped, and I think that’s the biggest piece of advice I could give to anyone, just don’t stop.
Your new EP, which you recorded with the guys at Kore Studios, The Worlds Gone Crazy, and so have I, which is out March 19th, what can you tell us about the recording process?
Troy: A few months later I got an email saying out of the hundreds of bands that have applied we’ve chosen you as the winner. I thought it was spam to start with and just dismissed it, so I almost lost out on the opportunity. It was only after I was like, wait that did happen, I did meet those people. I messaged them and asked, what’s the catch? And after a lot of back and forth with George Apsion (it took a lot of convincing it was real), it just turned out he really, really dug our desert rock and riff-based music. We knew as soon as we turned up in the studio we were in good company, there were Black Sabbath posters on the wall. We were lucky in a way that Kore were looking for a band like us. Through the whole process the band line up changed as well.
Dan: Yeah, I came in just as everything was happening. I joined pretty much the beginning of January last year. You [Troy] asked me and I was already a fan of the band, but then you started telling me all of this stuff, like okay we’re recording a new EP in about a month, here’s the new songs to learn, and it was like I’ve never played guitar in a band before and I’m going to London to record. So, I was immediately just bricking it.
Tom: I can’t believe you got a month Dan. Troy came to me and was like we’re playing a gig in two weeks; you’ve got eight songs to learn. We’re not gonna meet before we’re just gonna go and play.
Dan: I’m so glad everything did get delayed though. The songs would not be where they were if we did it then.
Troy: The extra few months changed the songs so dramatically, they’re so much better.
“RECORDING THREE SONGS IN TWO DAYS IS STRESSFUL, BUT IT’S A LOT OF FUN. ESPECIALLY WHEN SOMEONE LIKE GEORGE IS AS EXCITED BY THE PROCESS AS US.”
What was it like working with George Apsion?
Dan: He was brilliant, as soon as we got there he was welcoming and excited. He said he’d been listening to Kyuss all morning. At that point I just saw Troy smile because it was like yeah, we’re in the right place, we’re in the right hands. Everything just fell into place really. When we first got in me and Finn we’re asking if we could do it in one take, and he was like sure you can try. We did one take, we rehearsed loads, had a massive rehearsal the day before so we were really tight. Seeing him excited by the fact we could get through a song without mistakes made us all confident. Recording three songs in two days is stressful, but it’s a lot of fun. Especially when someone like George is as excited by the process as us.
Tom: The leap of faith George had; you know having a band in with three completely new members. Him having us there for two days for free. What he did was incredible.
When recording the EP, you guys played the tracks in full as a band, rather than individual layers, that must’ve been such an insane atmosphere in the studio?
Tom: It was the whole package really, like there was footage recorded of us in the studio as part of a video series. So, to have someone there with a camera, it makes you feel like you’re playing a gig. It is a livestream in a way. Just to have everyone in the room together was really great.
Dan: It was also exciting because with the headphones on, they do a pre-mix, so it sounded like you were listening to the EP while you were playing it. It was kind of crazy.
This new EP is designed to be played live and loud in all its glory. What would be the dream venue to play it at?
Dan: I saw Mini Mansions at this festival in Bristol called Dot to Dot. I didn’t know who mini mansions were at the time just the atmosphere was great, I think it was at the fleece. I was filming gigs and stuff there and it was just such a cool venue. I could imagine us playing there.
Troy: We’ve actually played a few gigs there before!
Tom: I was gonna say, through previous experience, I always love playing at the Reading Face Bar, I don’t even know if it’s still going. But the sound they got out of that place was unbelievable.
Troy: I think these songs, when I think of playing them live, I don’t think like arenas, I think of a like a little punk box. The Louisiana in Bristol with like 150/200 capacity and we could pack that out. Everyone going wild for those songs.
I’m really hoping Underground Festival in Gloucester can come back this year. I think you guys would be so great playing somewhere like the Guildhall. That venue is so much fun, especially with the floors bouncing.
Troy: That’s a really good one actually! I’d love to play that festival.
Tom: We had a gig booked at Cheltenham Townhall, that was gonna be very interesting!
Troy: Yeah, we got lucky really, a guy I work with is the venue manager and he asked if we wanted to be one of the first gigs for everything opens back up and I was like ABSLOUTELY. We were lined up to headline Cheltenham Townhall in all its glory. It’s such a beautiful venue. I’m really hoping when things go back to normal it’ll be our come back show. A Cheltenham and a Bristol gig. It’s quite exciting to think about.
The first single C’est La Vie drops March 5th. In a few words, what can fans expect from this track?
Tom: Absolute chaos. I would say it’s a no holds barred kind of thing.
Troy: It’s a mad one. From the very beginning it doesn’t quite come in when you expect it. Just from that moment It kind of throws you around the room until it finishes, and then it discards you!
Dan: I’d describe it as 195bmp and the sickest ending ever.
Anything else exciting in the pipeline for Nuns?
Troy: In the meantime, we can’t get together or anything. This band, especially this line up, we really gel well together when we’re all in the same room. I really like the idea of Skype and guitar pro and stuff… but as soon as we get in the room and we’re going for it, there’s just such a good vibe and good energy. I don’t see there being any new music being made until we can be in the same room, BUT we have been doing a lot of work on bring nuns to more people. We’ve got a load of new CD’s in; I’ve just finished a T-shirt design. I do wanna give something out. Everything before these three tracks has never been released officially as an album, it’s always been singles. I’m thinking after this we use the rest of this year to bring people into the old tunes as well. You know bring out an official 10 or so track album. We should probably try tackle some live streams. You’ll see a lot more of us coming online, Dan’s finished making a play along video for our next single. We’ve also got a private Facebook group, so that’s where things get posted first like merch and CD’s so if you wanna talk to us directly that’s where you should go!
Nuns of the Tundra drop their next single C’est La Vie on March 5th with the rest of the EP landing March 19th! In the meantime, you can check out their other tracks on Spotify!