Since the last time we spoke to Birmingham’s grunge-rock quintet Nishi things have been busy; a new year has seen the announcing of not just a brand new single being unveiled across the airwaves of the world, but the boys have also managed to attract the attentions and affections of noted contemporary clothing designer Offenda London.
Eager to be on the cutting edge of fashion and infamy we caught up with guitarist Ben Horsley to discuss the ‘how’s, ‘who’s and even ‘Hookers’ of the whole happening that’s been happening to the boys from Birmingham…
For he that is one of five that makes up Nishi, if you would like to introduce yourself?
I am Ben, I am the rhythm of the band believe it or not.
From endorsements to gigs, new singles and more, it’s certainly been a busy time for Nishi?
It certainly has been a busy time. For myself I have been in and out of hospital for what seems like forever, so getting down and recording our new single ‘What Evil’ has been a massive thing for us. It’s such a ballsy song track, When playing it I just feel pumped, ready, like my mind and body has stepped up a gear. Its made me feel good again.
Clearly Nishi have been making the right noise, managing to capture the attentions of leading contemporary clothing designer, Offenda..?
I found it odd at first, I mean its one thing playing a gig, then another thing people listening to you on various social media sites, but to have a clothing designer like Offenda to back us is incredible. Out of all the bands that are climbing the ladder like ourselves, they chose Nishi. Its a proud moment for me. The lads are troopers at their trade and it shows. Our music is a taste of its own fibres, five lads doing what they love, and we captivate the creativity of a great designer. I’m honored to stand by brothers whether it be in a pub or on stage.
Indeed, the tag-line of being an ‘Original’ certainly fits well with the band..?
The closest I’ve been to original is awkward, but thats a different story. Many times I’m asked, ‘whats your sound, what genre?’ and I can never answer that question, I end up listening bands we might sound like. then I have to play our music for people to make up their own minds. We are all original people the band are. We all have our sounds and ways. Maybe I step way out of the box most of the time. I mean, I don’t think I go a month before I change a pedal to get a different sound or do something to my guitar just to see what happens. I came from a true working class background and was raised with the belief ‘theres no such thing as cant’. I live by that today. I don’t have the latest Fender or Gibson. But what I do have is a mind full of ideals.
I’ve seen many people that wont touch a guitar if it doesn’t cost nothing less that £700, and I’m like ‘the hell is wrong with you?’. the guitar is only as good as the person playing it. if slash picks up a £20 guitar it will sound like slash is playing a £20 guitar. If i did it, it will sound like I’m playing a £20 guitar. My two main guitars for example, my trusty Yamaha Pacifica 112L. That has been through a lot both cosmetics and hardware. Thanks to people like Iron Gear, I have pickups that provide me with a sound that can my angels weep, or ears, why not both. but tinkering with it broadened my knowledge of the instrument, its capabilities. Made me see that there is much more to a guitar than just a name. I found that the guitar is an extension of myself. that Yamaha projects my mind. when I play, people hear what goes on inside my head. They hear the real me.
But there is only so much you can do when tinkering. refurbed my Yamaha and am actually doing it again now! But if it wasn’t for going to a guitar show in Birmingham last year, I wouldn’t have found something that has truly transformed my look on being ‘original’. I found Hookers! Beautiful bodies, smooth necks, sounds so deep your heart would melt. I found the guitar make for me. Yeah I know what you were thinking. But yes Hooker Customs. A small business that specialized in one off guitars with their own little signature. Burning the guitars rather than paint em. and they were lefties. I remember sitting down for about 30 minutes playing one of their guitars while my missus kept prompting me to get a move on (thanks Sam). After many emails I got an idea down for a guitar I had in mind, And no less than a month later. I the Tele-Hooker was in my hands. Made to my specs. I can honestly say it was a dream come true. custom built guitar for me. it feels like I’ve had the guitar for a long time. it feels natural to play it. that changed my outlook of guitars, I go to guitar shops now and I pick some off the shelf, and they don’t play like my hooker. I take my hooker to the shop and people are gathering around to have a look. When I tell them who built it, I just see phones suddenly appearing whilst they Google Hooker Customs.
All that tinkering I do helps me find that sound, the sound I that makes Nishi a force, yes there are times when I should be playing a song in rehearsal but I’m adjusting things here and there, but it pays of. I am not a ‘normal ‘person, and my gear isn’t conventional; but like Nishi, It’s unique. It makes me who I am. If you cant be prepared to step the boundaries or to step into the unknown, how will you know your limits?
Though the live scene has been lacking in recent times it is coming back with a fervor State-side, but how do things fare this side of The Pond..?
I feel the music scene is picking up again. I think live music is going underground, because now you can literally watch a gig in Spain from the comfort of your bedroom while sitting in your pants, live music is underground, like the 60’s. I mean yeah, its way easier now to spread your sound around, but seeing an artist or a band live, you can’t beat it. I saw a band I know not long ago, and I still get very excited watching them play. You are exposed to so many things when going to gigs. Different sounds, different people, and something I found was the interest of people.
I think it was our third or fourth gig we did, and when we finished I made my way to the bar, and this guy who I have never met before came up to me and starting to sing F.I.N.E. That was one of the first songs I brought to the band and to have someone, a complete stranger come up to me and then sing it, I was overwhelmed.
Its doesn’t help that many of the pubs that do live music are closing down, or the places that host bands and either stopping or closing. It makes it hard for the up coming bands to make a statement to the ears of many. I think its because people see it as ‘a bit of a laff’ but to those that play, it’s important to them. Then you have television shows – not naming any in particular – they ruin the scene because people on those shows get fame and all the works and then ruin themselves. They aren’t the real artists. People like Only the Good, The Elegant Chaos and us, we are the true bringers of music, we are the guys carrying the flag of music passed down to us.
But yes, I think the music scene is picking back up again. With all the new waves of musicians coming through, live music will remain strong!
With an industry standard of ‘around three and a half minutes’ which one track would you pick to best introduce your music to our audience?
That would have to be our new one! I think if the Incredible Hulk and Thor high five’d, What Evil would be the sound it made. From the very beginning you are being thrown into the deep end, the way music should be, and What Evil not only throws you in, its drags you deep under. I played it to my mate who isn’t really into rock music, but I said ‘…listen.’ As soon as it started his foot was going, his face was saying a million things. but he loved it. Its a song that hooks you. When we played it live, people just don’t expect it, but when you look at them, you can see they enjoy it. It’s a roller coaster feel; it goes up and down and up and down then the breaks appears. Then it slowly but surely leads you into a false sense of security and BANG! You’re right back in the heart of the song. I would use this song to show people what we are about. It’s a heavy song but shows our diversity, which can be very tricky to do. But we did it!!
Where can we stalk your activities send demands for autographs, downloads, such and similar and so on?
Twitter – @bhiamking / @nishi_lives
Website – https://nishilives.wordpress.com/
Droog Addict EP – http://tinyurl.com/o2yg7ow
We will be having some videos on YouTube soon so that’s always a look out, youtube.com/nishilives, we are also on Soundcloud, again type in Nishi_Lives and you will find us.
And in that spirit of shameless self-promotion what else would you like our audience to know?
I have to inform the world about www.hookercustoms.co.uk and www.irongear.co.uk, these guys make me who I am when I play, you would be insane not to have a look. also www.steveclayton.com for supplying me with the best damn picks I have ever used!!
Check out www.offenda.com for the some great hand printed T-shirts you will ever see!
Catch us on the 21st of March at the Slade rooms in Wolverhampton supporting the closest thing to Nirvana you will ever see, Kirvana. Its our first gig of 2015 so it will be special. I would love to talk to people if they have questions about my gear I use or anything. As its you guys that keep us going!!