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Nieviem: Skate Punks and the Human Condition

Based in Lincoln, skate punks Nieviem (their name comes from the Polish for ‘I don’t know’-Nie Wiem) started in April 2016 when three Polish musicians Bart Stanczyk (guitarist/songwriter), Tomek Tyrlik (drummer) and Kuba Piatkowski (bass guitar) met vocalist/lyric writer Vicky McClelland and starting working together. Within a couple of months they had written five songs and released a four track EP that Autumn. Subsequently Vicky left the band due to ill health in May 17 and her place was taken by Hope Bateman. Hardly pausing to catch their collective breath Nieviem released Live at Equinox Festival 2017 in September and then the excellent seven track EP/album The Hope is There and single ‘Fick’ in November. In February 2018 The Punk Lounge launched its monthly compilations and Nieviem appeared on the inaugural volume with the track ‘Disappointed’. Being really impressed by The Hope is There and wanting to know more about Nieviem I got to ask Bart and Hope a few questions about the band’s past, present and future.

Nieviem formed in April 2016 and by October you had a 4 track eponymous EP out! Had you been hiding great songs away to unleash on the world or was it the right combination of people and it all just flowed?

Bart: I think it was right combination of people and massive excitement. We started writing straight away in April 2016 and recorded 5 songs three months later in July. By the end of 2016 we had 9 songs ready for 30 mins slot.

Were any of the guys in bands together in Poland before forming Nieviem? Or did you meet up in the UK?

Bart: We all met up in the UK. I used to work with Tomek, we spoke by chance about playing music and we decided to have a go after a while. We both used to play drums but I went for a guitar in the end. This is how it started, I may be wrong but it was sometime in 2010. We used to play plenty of punk covers before Kuba (2014) and Vicky (2016) joined in. Previously I played drums in a crust punk band in Poland in ’90s.

Have you been in bands before Nieviem at all, Hope?

Hope: Yes, I’ve been in a couple, but my current projects are the ones that I’ve taken the most seriously and put all of my effort and dedication into. Before Nieviem and Hellter-Skellter [my other band] I was mostly performing covers or just helping other people bring their songs to life with very little of my own creative input.

How would you describe your sound? At times it reminds me a bit of Rise Against.

Bart: Hahaha that’s a nice compliment, thank you. I think our music is more simple than Rise Against though. I was growing up in ’90s in Poland, so I think you can hear the sound of Polish bands such as Post Regiment, Apatia, 1125 or Dezerter but if I would have to describe it, I would say it’s mixture of Polish band Post Regiment and Pennywise the most.

Hope: Since I took much inspiration from them, I’m going to say our style is quite like Bad Religion. I’m not sure I can quite hear the Rise Against sound in our music as you describe, but I might take that thought on board for the next original we make.

Have there been any bands that have really inspired you?

Bart: I’ve been listening to punk music since I remember, probably I was 10-12 years old when it began. There is plenty of bands I take my inspiration from. I come back to Polish bands from ’90s very often, so definitely Post Regiment, Apatia, 1125, Schizma, Alians, Włochaty, Guernica Y Luno, Homomilitia. Also I’m massive fan of skate punk, so my huge inspiration for Nieviem always are Pennywise, Millencolin, BigWig, 88 Fingers Louie, Vision, Mute, Rise Against but also some old school HC bands such as Biohazard, Madball, Downset, Shoutdown, Battery, Intensity and also I listen to some crust, d-beat bands such as Nausea, Disaffect, Resist, Disorder. I really like our local Wolfbeast Destroyer or Grand Collapse but I still listen to Bolshy quite often which is completely different genre of punk. It’s hard to say which of these bands are my main inspiration……….I think all of them inspire me mixing in my head constantly giving the sound of Nieviem in the end.

Hope: I personally have a variety of influences ranging from softer mainstream genres up to heavy metal. For Nieviem though, I decided to immerse myself in melodic punk upon becoming a permanent member of this band and through gigging, I couldn’t help but get into other genres of punk from more low key bands. I think in my most recent piece of writing with this band, I felt massively inspired by The Sporadics’ ‘Fight Truth Decay’ album.

Your original lead singer, Vicky McClelland, left after about a year due to ill health (hope she is doing OK). How did Hope join the band, did you know each other before you/she joined?

Bart: Vicky is getting better slowly but it is a long process and she has to wait for the right treatment. We didn’t know Hope before she joined Nieviem. I just asked one of my friends in another band if their singer could fill in for a while, but she couldn’t and he recommended Hope, which was a great choice.

Hope: I joined the band through a contact of mine at the college I currently attend [Access To Music Lincoln]. Initially, I was just going to be a fill in temporarily to give the original singer a break, but it just so happened that Vicky decided to leave instead, so since I knew a fair amount of the material, the guys decided to keep me. I never really knew Vicky, but we have spoken a couple of times on Facebook after one of the earlier gigs I did with Nieviem. We had some pleasant conversations though.

Has there been an effect lyrically? Is there a change of style in the newer songs on your latest EP The Hope Is There?

Bart: When Vicky left, she reserved the rights to some of the lyrics as those were too personal to her. There is only three songs with original lyrics written by Vicky,  ‘Everybody’s Home’, ‘Feathers’ and ‘Thousand People’. ‘Thousand People’ is based on our conversation about social ignorance in real life. We had a long conversation about it and she wrote this lyrics straight after it. The other lyrics on this EP/album are still personal though, I think.

Hope: Currently, my writing is a bit less political than “Everybody’s Home” and my style is to not quite directly refer to my own emotions when writing about certain experiences I’ve had in my life. So whereas Vicky would express her story referring to oneself, I think I beat around the bush a little more and am more hesitant to open up like that. ‘Fick’ is just me having a rant about someone who used to be in my life and whose friendship was extremely toxic to me and

‘Indifferent’ is about being literally that, and whilst it shows that it is about me to a certain extent, I wouldn’t say there’s much to open up about there either. I think I like to save the emotions for ballads.

I was interested in the lyrics to ‘Everybody’s Home’, could you tell us more about the song, was it a response to anything in particular or to media encouraged xenophobia in general?

Bart: It was written a week after Brexit referendum and it was Vicky’s/ours answer to result of it. This is what this song is about.

Hope: Although the lyrics weren’t written by myself, I am very interested in the whole idea of post-truth and the views expressed in the song I feel are spot on.

Could you talk us through the tracks on The Hope Is There what sort of subjects do the songs deal with?

Hope:  01. ‘Indifferent’ Indifference. As you grow, you learn that sometimes it’s best not to bother getting worked up about other people’s problems or even your own because it just isn’t worth the stress or your time. Over the past few years, I’ve learned to control my emotions and get my priorities right. I guess I thought I should write a song about my progress really and about the person I am now.

  1. ‘Everybody’s Home’ Immigration. Often a taboo subject, particularly around those who are less informed on the subject. Also there’s a fair amount about the post-truth world we live in where no one really appears to know what is going on in our world politically. Basically it’s about belief over the facts to try and put it in a nutshell.
  2. ‘Feathers’ Reliance and being drained from some sort of relationship and/or emotion. Of course, I can’t be entirely sure since the lyrics aren’t mine. I remember when I first gave the songs from the first EP a listen as I was preparing to fill in, this one was my favourite.
  3. ‘Thousand People’ Disconnection. How the human race have become distanced from reality because of social media and are generally quite afraid to interact physically/verbally because we constantly hide behind this digital wall. This is my interpretation anyway.
  4. ‘Fick’ Toxicity. It’s about friendships in which you feel you’re the one putting in all the effort but you come to this realization that the person you’re trying to help is too busy wallowing in their own pity to want to help themselves.
  5. ‘Forget Me Not’ Being awesome, or, becoming awesome. I used to drain myself of emotion by putting it all towards people that never appreciated it. ‘Forget Me Not’ is about you putting in that effort, the effort not being appreciated by that person whilst you’re still around, but then they realize what a massive impact you had on them upon walking away from it all and leaving them behind.
  6. ‘Disappointed’ I guess this is about being treated poorly by a love interest. We managed to end up on a Valentine’s compilation with this one which may be somewhat amusing.

You also appeared on the Lincolnshire Punk Compilation Vol.1 which came out in 2017-how did that come about? I’m guessing from the release that there must be a thriving Punk scene in Lincoln(shire)!? I think Truth Equals Treason and Mothcob are from that area aren’t they?

Bart: This compilation was released by myself actually haha. I just had an idea to put all local bands on CD and promote our local music and punk scene in Lincoln. Definitely Mothocb is very active band, Truth Equals Treason too. There are still a few other bands in Lincoln such as Throatpunch – HC/powerviolence, Suburban Toys – ska/garage punk and a few new ones which will appear on Volume 2. The release date is planned for March/April so keep your eyes and ears peeled. All I can say, It’s gonna be one bonus song by a punk band not from Lincolnshire this time.

Hope: Yes, they are! I think some areas in Lincolnshire are more rich in punk compared to Lincoln and it’s up to people to travel about a little and explore to dig up those gems. I wasn’t really around when the idea of the compilation came about, but I would say its aim is to encourage the expansion of the punk scene and draw new fans in.

Hope, a lot of female musicians experience a degree of sexism-how has your experience been in the DIY punk scene?

Hope: I haven’t experienced anything in relation to this subject actually. I have always fronted bands in which the rest of the member are male though. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t quite put myself out there for real yet that sexism hasn’t occurred. Also, I get a lot of encouragement, especially when after our set when gigging for events, I’ll join the mosh pit and really immerse myself in the fun.

What plans do you have for 2018?

Bart: Plans hmmmmm……..OK this is first time we say officially we will be looking for a new drummer. Tomek is moving back to Poland sometimes this year. There is no fixed date, but we will need someone to take his place. We will still play our shows, we still write new songs but I think this is the main task for now. As soon as we’ll find the right person there are songs to record and few good events to play including Equinox Festival 2018 and obviously writing and playing as much as we can.

Hope:  Creating original material always! Music is my life and in Nieviem, I really do enjoy writing lyrics and creating melodies… Hopefully I’ll be gigging more in both of my bands and putting some new material out there [foremostly an EP with my other band, so eyes and ears peeled for that please!]

What contemporary bands have you been enjoying lately? Have you read any good books you’d like to put us on to?

Bart: I discover some new and old bands constantly. I really like to listen local bands but lately I’ve been listening a lot to Bolshy from Liverpool. I know it’s not skate punk but this band is awesome and Molly has amazing voice too. Between this I was listening to my usual bands I mentioned about previously. I don’t really have much time for reading but I read Heavier Than Heaven, the biography of Kurt Cobain’s at the moment. It’s quite an old book but The 27 Club musician were always interesting to me.

Also I would like to say thank you very much to all  the kind people we’ve met, thank you for your support and help. It means a lot to us and it keeps us going. Thanks to all of you who have read this interview till the end and found it interesting! See you at the gigs!

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