The Worm/The Wretch: Meet Age Decay
Bristol's venerable goth population is surely enjoying the current near-constant darkness, which seems to be a catalyst for producing new and exciting delights. A particular example is dour stalwarts Age Decay, who are enjoying the success of their recent single The Worm/The Wretch. Guitarist/ vocalist Chris Nicholls sat down with us to chat about exploring new themes, collaborations and black holes:
Hey Chris! What have Age Decay been working on recently?
Hey Tom. Recently we’ve been discussing our next move and whether we should be working towards an album or an EP. We’ve been writing new material, but that’s going pretty slowly since we’re all in other bands and have various life and work commitments. Up until this point I’ve written all of the songs, which we then expand upon as a band, but I’d really like to open that up and have everyone else start to bring ideas in. Hopefully that will help to speed up the process!
How has the reaction been to the latest single The Worm/ The Wretch?
The reaction has been great from those who have heard it. Unfortunately I’m pretty terrible at promoting the band and so it hasn’t had as much reach as it ideally would. I actually sent it out for review this time though, so that’s progress! Everyone at BBC Introducing has been really enthusiastic about it and I do appreciate that they used eleven minutes of a show to play a chorus-less atmospheric sludge song.
On the single, you discuss themes of meditating on self-doubt to fuel creativity. Can you tell us more about the general themes of Age Decay?
The band started as a solo project and on the first EP the theme was definitely creativity itself and whether it was ridiculous to keep creating anything in the face of how huge and, most likely, uncaring the universe is. I’m fascinated by space, but also completely terrified by it. Contemplating it too deeply causes a deep dread and at the time I came to write the EP I’d been thinking about it far too much. I was waking up at 6am every day to start recording and thinking “Why? Why am I making this effort?” It felt so small and silly in the face of lots of other, larger, more important, dreadful things. Which I guess things like black holes were a shorthand for. As I’ve started to write more material the focus has turned more inward to examine exactly where I fit into all of it. If I fit into all of it.
Any themes you'd like to explore in the future?
There are, but I probably won’t disclose them just yet because then I’ll start to feel beholden to it and worry about doing them justice.
Talk me through your collaboration with Ben Chisholm. How did you end up working together?
I met Ben when my band Oh, The Guilt opened for Chelsea Wolfe a few years back. We got talking about music and the things I was working on at the time. He told me I should send it on to him and I’ve continued to do that ever since. Now I always stop by to say hi and take photos if he’s playing in the city or nearby. I sent on The Worm/The Wretch and he asked if I’d be interested in him remixing it. Of course I said yes! I’m so happy with the results. I used to listen to all of the Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson remix EPs and albums in the 90’s and I get the same feeling from his reworking. I love how he pulled the track to pieces and rebuilt it in a completely unexpected way.
How do you create art for the records? Do you approach it differently to art designed for other projects?
It happens in lots of different ways. Usually I either stress about it so much that I ask someone else to do it instead, like with the “Alternate Deaths” art, or I do it so hastily that I hate what I’ve done as soon as it’s released, like with the Pavor Nocturnus EP and Burning Season art. The covers for the last two releases were paintings I’d already completed and I was happy with, so I thought at least I wouldn’t start resenting them if I used them.
Tell me about recent shows; anyone you've been excited to play with?
Our most recent show, with Vile Creature and Bismuth, is perhaps my very favourite one. Its the kind of line up I always dreamed of being on when I decided to make Age Decay a live band. I’m a big VC fan and Bismuth’s new album is incredible and so to be asked to play with them on the same bill (and for one o my favourite Bristol promoters) was so exciting. They’re wonderful people too and hopefully it’s not the last time our paths cross. We’re making plans to hopefully play a few shows with a really cool band in the summer, but I don’t want to say too much in case it falls through.
Do you have any gear you've bought recently you've been excited about using?
Sadly I don’t have the money to buy any new gear at all. I’m always lusting after something though. Currently I’d really love an Old Blood Noise Endeavours ‘Haunt’ and ‘Excess’. I’m a fan of most of what they put out and the ‘Dark Star’ is all over The Worm/The Wretch. Oh! I did pick up a Squier custom Tele a little while back and so we actually write and play in different tunings now. That’s quite an exciting and adventurous step for us!
What are your plans for the future?
Hopefully a summer tour. Hopefully a new release in some form. Hopefully playing with more bands we love and respect.
Keep up to date with Age Decay on Facebook here.
Interview by Tom Coles