"I do what I can and I trust what I am," frontman Tyler Fernberg sings on "Roy." "I've got my own morals/ Got my own mind/ Got my own thoughts/ And my own mouth to speak them."
Early on Who Cares, the debut full-length from bass-and-drums hardcore trio Nuclear Moms, singer Tyler Fernberg howls lines about his arms being bound and bodily fluids - drool, blood and so on - staining his clothing. As the recording progresses, however, the musician gradually finds some much-needed distance from these stressors.
"I do what I can and I trust what I am," the frontman sings on "Roy," a hypnotic tune where the musicians cut ties with this accumulated baggage, much like a rocket ship jettisoning its fuselage as it moves into orbit. "I've got my own morals/ Got my own mind/ Got my own thoughts/ And my own mouth to speak them."
"That's a lot of where I was in that point of my life," said Fernberg, who joined bandmates Alex Blocher (bass) and Collin Kovac (drums) for an early January interview Downtown. "I was in this apartment and I was short money ... and I wanted to make a point of it to myself to deal with my own problems and not rely on my parents to help me out or anything like that. It just clicked in my head: being self-sufficient makes sense."
This spirit of self-reliance frequently bleeds over into Nuclear Moms' cathartic, high-energy concerts. Though the three can and do move with atomic precision, pulling together like fingers into a fist to pummel hapless audiences, it's not unusual for each player to inhabit his own corner of the world for the duration of a show.
"We're making our own worlds - that's exactly what it is," Blocher said. "There are times I'll be playing and I'll have no clue what's going on [around me]. Tyler will be bashing his face against his floor, and I'll have no idea. It's interesting because it allows [audiences] to see what's going on with each person, and each of our personalities and anxieties."
Fernberg, for his part, can be months or even years away when the band plays a given song, since he invests himself so fully in the performance it will project him "Quantum Leap"-style back to the moment he penned it.
"When I'm up there yelling, I actually put myself in that mindset where I felt exactly like I did at the time I wrote [the lyrics]," said Tyler, equating his approach with a method actor who refuses to break character while filming a given role. "It all comes back to me like a flashback. That's a lot of what motivates me and gets me all pumped up and crazy."
Blocher takes a similar approach in crafting his bass lines, which rumble and shake with seismic authority. For one recent, yet-to-be-recorded song, the bassist attempted to capture the sense of anxiety instilled in him by complexities tied to a former living situation.
These accumulated anxieties continue to linger in spite of high early praise for the trio's music - the members of Nervosas, for one, said it would be a mad rush to try and join Nuclear Moms if they ever split up - and collectively the bandmates insist the best is still to come.
"My [bass] setup now … to me it passes [with] like a C-plus," Blocher said. "I feel like I'm still in an experimental stage. If people think there's a Nuclear Moms' sound, or even just a bass sound, to me it's still in those infant stages."