“I have heard all my life you need to get out of Birmingham if you are going to make it. I was close to moving back to Colorado but ‘Too Cold for Alabama Blood’ is about being stubbornly proud of where you are from despite the possibility of going somewhere else. You can’t deny there is something special in Alabama and it is all about the pride in that. Playing SlossFest was a big goal for us.”
Nerves Baddington is Ryan Howell (beats/raps), John McNaughton (bass) and Cam Johnson (drums)
TSR: “What does Nerves Baddington mean?”
Ryan: “Nerves Baddington means to get out of the way of yourself. All three of us in the band have a history of substance abuse and have fought our way through. I am a recovering heroin addict. I drink here and there but have made it past my demons of opiate abuse. It was about getting out of the way myself to be myself. Self-acceptance is the key and I am human. I figured out what I was running from and why I was running from it and got out of the way of it. I never went over the cliff. I also wanted the name to have an old school blues ring to it like Howlin’ Wolf and Lightnin’ Hopkins.
“Addict” was our breakout hit. It was number one on MTV.com for three days in a row. It is important to write relatable lyrics. Everyone is addicted to something and we are attempting to shake the stigma that comes from addiction. Our new album is “Dopamine Decoder Ring” and there is a code on the back of the record leads to a secret album on our website. It is a collection of songs that didn’t make it on the album. They have a darker, more experimental side.
TSR: What is the story behind “Easter Island?”
Ryan: The song “Easter Island” is about acceptance and having confidence in yourself. Confidence problems were a part of my addiction. Addicts are constantly having to replenish dopamine and Dopamine Decoder Ring is about finding new and different ways of getting dopamine. Music has been that for me and channeling all of those the setbacks, flaws, fears into my art has literally saved my life. It is important to be able to confide in people and my circle of people who I confide in is very small. I would rather be open with music.
I don’t know how I keep all of the words in my head, but they come out the same way almost every time. We know how to go with the flow and make mistakes look smooth. Each song has a different structure and we never play it exactly the same way twice. Breathing is my biggest setback as an emcee that uses a lot of words. There isn’t enough time to breathe but we feed off of each other’s energy.”
“As the drummer, I try to make sure I know what is coming but still be where he is,” says Cameron Johnson. “It is a lot on the fly and mathematics and having to count. I know how many bars things are and how many bars it will take for what he is about to do. I also have to think what I am doing in the moment and stay connected in the crowd, but it also comes naturally and don’t have to overthink it.”
“I don’t know how to count bars when I play bass, so I get to it a different way,” says John McNaughton. “I have been listening to Ryan’s music for years and can feel the changes coming. I know when he is going to switch.”
“We can read each other and that is where the magic happens.”