Hailing from Birmingham, AL, Ryan Howell and John McNaughton make up the experimental hip-hop duo known as Nerves Baddington. Ryan and John are 20-year veterans of the Birmingham music scene, having previously performed in Valerie #4 and Entropy together in the late 1990s.
Ryan and John parted ways after Entropy and Ryan turned to hip-hop and honed his skills as an MC with Birmingham group Abstract Chemistry and eventually relocated to Denver to pursue hip-hop full time. He attained considerable success under the Inkline moniker, sharing the stage (as part of the group ManeLine) with national acts such as Dilated Peoples, Hieroglyphics, The Pharcyde and Gnarls Barkley. John continued to play in punk and indie rock inspired bands (Dorian Grey, Greycoat and Kinoflux).
After returning to Birmingham, Ryan spent most of his time writing music for a solo Inkline album entitled Stones Cry which was eventually released in early 2014; he also wrote a handful of songs with a guitar that did not fit the Inkline aesthetic, but were crafted with the same brutal honesty and social commentary. Howell reached out to McNaughton, and Nerves Baddington was born.
In preparation for Birmingham’s fourth annual Secret Stages festival, the duo adapted tracks from Stones Cry for the stage and at the same time began perfecting seven songs that would soon become their first EP as Nerves Baddington, released in December 2014. Three accompanying music videos have been released and a fourth video is currently in post-production, due for an early 2016 release. The duo is constantly writing and performing new material.
Nerves Baddington have played some of Birmingham’s favorite venues including The Firehouse, Iron City, Bottletree, Saturn and Syndicate Lounge. They have performed as part of Birmingham’s best annual festivals such as Secret Stages, Sidewalk Film Festival and High Five Fest as well as the first installment of an AL.com series highlighting local bands and breweries.
Nerves Baddington is the culmination of the life experience and multifarious musical influences of Howell and McNaughton. Inkline’s effortless flow and wordplay is just as evident and prolific here as it was with his solo material and his work with ManeLine. The duo lean on their punk and shoegaze influences through their use of effects, synths and other unconventional instruments, as well as their choices of samples.
Nerves Baddington combine programming and live instrumentation in a unique and exciting manner on record and especially onstage, where they take pride in delivering an impassioned performance. This DIY aesthetic makes Nerves Baddington a unique change of pace for a hip-hop or a rock bill. With energetic new songs, a revamped live show and an ear toward societal issues, Nerves Baddington is ready to turn heads, no matter the size of the stage or the diversity of the bill.
Discography: Nerves Baddington EP (2014)