In The Nursery are one of the most (if not the most) distinctive neo-classical/electronic acts of the last 35 years! Twin brothers Klive and Nigel Humberstone last year released a real masterpiece: ‘1961’. We are more than honored to have them on Last Day Deaf, and although we never got the chance to see them live in Greece (their appearance in Athens was cancelled) we left their answer deliberately to see what to expect from them (hopefully sometime soon!).
Your latest masterpiece ‘1961′ was among the best 2017’s releases, including Last Day Deaf. Would you like to enlighten us about the concept of the album and discuss about the process of creating this? From its perception to its recording and release?
Nigel Humberstone (NH): It’s difficult to exactly pinpoint where we first got the idea for ‘1961‘. Even though we’d worked on other projects (like ‘The Calling‘, ‘Aprirsi‘ and ‘The Fall Of The House Of Usher‘), it had been 5 years since our last studio album but we’d slowly been working towards new material, waiting for when the time was right and when we felt inspired to make new music. ‘1961‘ is obviously our birth year, and then I found that it was a strobogrammatic number which had a really nice design aspect to it. So we started looking into things that happened in 1961 and it all took off from there. Looking back at notes, one of the earliest references was 1st June 2016 when I had been researching the construction of the Berlin wall as a key event from 1961. The concept of 1961 gave real depth to the album, it gave us a meaning to go on and do some stuff. We really needed something that was going to inspire us, rather than just do a set of songs that have no connection.
My personal favorite from ‘1961‘ is the dark opus ‘Grand Corridor’! So this one is about your birth then… So much tension behind this one, and I dare ask, why?
NH: ‘Grand Corridor‘ has an interesting back story. It relates to The Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital in the grounds of Cliveden, Taplow, Buckinghamshire where we were born. Originally built in 1914 as a military hospital the facility became a civilian hospital and a centre for research into rheumatism in children. The hospital was closed in 1985 and lay derelict for more than two decades, becoming notorious as one of Britain’s most haunted hospitals. The Grand Corridor was a 1/4 mile long connecting corridor that ran through the hospital – and reported that on some days you couldn’t see the other end for mist. We never had the chance to visit before it was demolished – we wish we had.
Klive Humberstone (KH): ‘Grand Corridor’ started out when we were creating new sounds/ideas – playing a Nord Modular octave key part through an old 80s Powertran Digital Delay Line. We then recorded and looped a section – played along with it on bass and ebow guitar – the composition evolved, but didn’t really take off until Nigel wrote a string part that was later recorded using a string quartet in our studio. The lyrics are inspired around the Canadian Red Cross Hospital in Cliveden where we were born. Our mother didn’t know that she was having twins and the line “a part of me, lies next to me” is a very personal reference.
You recently released ‘The Basement Tape‘, a rehearsal / practice session recorded at Montgomery Road, Sheffield on 11th May 1982. Why did you choose to reveal the ITN’s post-punk angle?
NH: We’ve recently been doing some clearing up and starting to archive material we have from the past. Amongst the many cassettes was this one C90 tape that, once we played it, represented a perfect document of the band in 1982, a year after our debut concert and just before our first recording. Recorded on a stereo Sony Walkman, the quality was good as well – enough to justify a digital release. Our post-punk roots are very important to us – it’s shaped our approach to music and our sound. Our latest album ‘1961‘ is evidence to that.
What can you mostly recall about the sublime early 90’s Third Mind Records’ period (post-Sweatbox), when you recorded 5 albums, one better than the previous one? Why did you choose to go on and release music via your own label?
NH: We’d been recording an album (‘L’esprit‘) that had been intended for Sweatbox, but following their demise was picked up by Third Mind Records which led to the subsequent recording of ‘Sense‘, ‘Duality‘, ‘An Ambush Of Ghosts‘ and ‘Anatomy Of A Poet‘. I just remember the period being a relaxed, creative time when we were allowed to do what we felt was right. Third Mind became part of Roadrunner Records and although we still had a good working relationship, we jumped at the opportunity to set up our own label when the option became available. It was the best thing we’d ever done.
Which 3 albums would you say that are the most ITN representative ones and why? In other words, which ones should an unaware listener start the “experience” with?
NH: For a new listener I would recommend the following albums – ‘Aubade‘ (to hear how it all started), ‘L’esprit‘ (probably ITN’s most acclaimed work) and ‘Blind Sound‘ (an apex in ITN’s symphonic sound).
What are you going to present to your Greek fans on your forthcoming 12th May gig at Death Disco? Any hints? (Editor’s note: -cancelled-)
NH: There will be a cross-section of material from across our back catalogue. There are obvious favorites but we’ll also be adding at least couple of tracks from the new album ‘1961‘.
You have also been deeply involved with soundtracks for TV productions and movies. Your latest one was Jean Epstein & Luis Bunuel’s 1928 interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tale of paranoia and suspense “The Fall Of The House Of Usher”. Would you like to discuss about this experience and the reasons that led you choose this one?
NH: Epstein‘s version of Poe‘s “The Fall Of The House Of Usher” is intriguing. There are obvious references to German expressionism but the Gothic undercurrent is strong, made even more interesting by the input of Luis Buñuel, working on one his very early films. I think one of my first impressions of the film was the brooding and claustrophobic atmosphere that seemed to permeate many of the scenes. Initially it was very daunting to conceive how we might portray this in music – but that soon became a challenge to create something unique for the project. Sound design for the film was interesting to work on – for example, creating “room tones” for different areas of the house and recording our own sound effects.
Getting a bit personal now! Having a twin brother myself, I would personally find it a bit stressful to work and co-operate with my brother for long. How has this 36year collaboration affected your relationship with each other?
NH: It’s strange for us to comment because we’ve not known anything different – we simply work well as a team.
What holds the future for ITN?
NH: Nothing to announce at present but we’ll be keeping an eye out for any silent film projects that raise our interest.
Photo credits: Chris Saunders