Just because a band relies almost entirely on electronic instruments doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be synthetic sounding. A good example of this is Sheffield’s In The Nursery, who use samplers and computers to come up with lush, classical sounds. Back in the early to mid 1980’s, the duo comprised of twin brothers Klive and Nigel Humberstone had a noisier sound that relied on mostly traditional rock instrumentation, but they soon tired of that format and moved on to samplers..
“We found it very hard to express ourselves using traditional instruments, like bass guitar and guitar and normal drum kits,” explains Nigel. “So they just seemed more emotive as instruments to us, a lot easier to put over what you’re trying to say. They can be forceful and they can be very atmospheric, which is what we like about them.”
The nature of ITN’s music lends itself well to sound track work, something the group has long desired to get involved with. Early in their career, the group released “Stormhorse,” which was the sound track to an imaginary film that Nigel says was done “just to get it out of our system, really.” Now, the duo has done their first full blown film score, doing the soundtrack to Everett Lewis’s “An Ambush of Ghosts.” The job came about after the director had sent someone out scouting for talent, and ITN were one of several bands whose music Roadrunner sent to them. Lewis did a rough cut of the film using music from ITN’s “Sense” and “Duality” albums, and then asked the band to remix some of that material and compose some new songs.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about ITN is that despite being able to come up with powerful, intricate instrumental arrangements, they are self-taught musicians. Klive says that everything is done by ear, adding that “I tried to learn chords and things but it didn’t get me very far.”
In The Nursery’s music has changed quite a bit since their emerged in 1981. The early music tended to feature guitar and bass, always played through heavy effects, on top of aggressive, very electronic sound drum machine beats. Strange, semi-industrial samples also played a predominant role. ITN’s boredom with traditional instrumentation was evident even back then, as such classic tracks as “Twins” and “Workcorps (Fist Style)” had a unique, eerie style despite making use of traditional rock instrumentation.
Tracks on the “Twins” LP (1986) brought along the first hints of the classical style ITN would use in the future, a sound that was expanded upon with 1987’s “Compulsion” and “Trinity” 12 inch singles before coming into full swing on the 1988 “Koda” LP.
In the early days, Klive and Nigel handled vocals themselves, but now they have gotten away from that. Many of ITN’s songs are now instrumentals, or they use the voice of Dolores Marquerite C, who joined the band in 1987.
“None of us are trained vocalists, so my brother and I always concentrate on the music,” says Nigel, “I suppose the vocal side falls short and we used instruments to put over vocal ideas. But more recently, Dolores hasbeen contributing a lot more vocals and lyrics, so the new album should have more vocals. We’re also looking towards having some narrated voice from, I won’t mention the name yet, but it’s a well known author we’ve been fans of for years, he’s going to narrate some pieces for us.”
1987 also saw the addition of another member to the band, percussionist Q. Klive and Nigel still remain the core of the band and are responsible for all the composition. Dolores and Q come in during the studio sessions to add their parts, and also perform live with ITN. In The Nursery usually do two short European tours every year, though they have yet to perform in America.
In the Nursery are currently working on a new album, to be released during the summer. Nigel says that the LP will continue in the same vein as “Sense” and “Duality,” though the group will also incorporate elements of dance music into the sound.
Despite being on Third Mind/Roadrunner, one of the largest and most well respected independent labels, the members of In The Nursery still keep other jobs to support themselves. Nigel is a journalist (his work has been published in such magazines as Alternative Press), Klive is a graphic designer, Q is an artist, and Dolores has worked in business and is currently pursuing an additional degree in management.
“It’s nice to not be totally taken over by the group, but we would like to do it full time if the money is good enough and allowed us to live off it,” says Nigel. “But unfortunately we have to provide an income by doing other jobs.”