Breaking expensive equipment. Fighting with angry promoters. Sharing oversized drummers and undersized dressing rooms. Life is not always pretty for the members of the Bay Area hardcore band, the Nerve Agents.“There was some drama last night at the Glass House,” bass player Dante Sigona recalls from his seat on the Palace’s tiny dressing room floor. “We got into a big fight with the Glass House personnel over microphones. They really took offense to our set because of [the actions] of our singer, Eric [Ozenne]. Eric, in the heat of the moment, started taking the [Glass House’s] microphones and throwing them against the wall. He wasn’t [intentionally] trying to break them, but he’s got all this crazy rage inside him that he can’t control, and it comes out every time we play. I thought [the Glass House’s security guards] were going to kick [Eric’s] ass. [The Glass House] did not pay us for last night, but they let us keep the broken microphones. So, we’re hungry, but we’ve got microphones.”
As Dante sits on the dressing room floor and reminisces about his band’s misfortunes at the Glass House, most of the other Nerve Agents crowd around and listen to him speak. Not surprisingly, the only Nerve Agent missing is singer Eric Ozenne, the person responsible for causing most of the trouble at the previous night’s show. And considering that the Nerve Agents’ dressing room at the Palace is so small that there is not enough room for him anyway, one cannot blame Ozenne for being absent.
But it is not like the members of the Nerve Agents—Sigona, Ozenne, guitarists Timmy Stardust and Zac Hunter, and drummer Andy Outbreak—really have anything to complain about. After forming in 1998 and recording two albums for Revelation Records, the goth-themed hardcore band signed with Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong’s label, Hellcat. Since hooking up with Hellcat, the Nerve Agents have released an ambitious and sophisticated new record called THE BUTTERFLY COLLECTION. And, at the Palace, the Northern California group found themselves opening for hardcore legends Agnostic Front and the Business on the high-profile Spirit of the Streets Tour.
However, other than the out-of-control destruction of expensive microphones, it seems that the only thing that can stop the Nerve Agents’ upward momentum is the existence of their Hellcat labelmates, the Distillers. When the Distillers’ original rhythm section left the band late last fall, Brody Armstrong, leader of the Los Angeles-based Distillers, asked Andy and Dante to fill-in on drums and bass. While Dante has since decided to remain exclusively with the Nerve Agents, Andy is now a full-time member of both bands. And for the rest of the Nerve Agents, Andy’s split Distillers-Nerve Agents allegiance is not something they are entirely comfortable with.“Lately, we’ve just been feeling [Andy’s situation] out and concentrating on how he can be in the Distillers and the Nerve Agents at the same time,” Dante says, still sitting on the crowded dressing room floor. “It’s been kind of complicated, and we need to figure everything out.”“It’s really hard to juggle the two [bands],” adds Andy, who at well over six-feet tall, is standing almost half-in and half-out of the back of the Nerve Agents’ tiny dressing room. “This can go on-and-on-and-on.”
This article first appeared in Mean Street magazine a really, really long time ago… Fotos were “borrowed” from our new friend, Joshua Hurtado. Please check out more of Joshua’s killer pix by clicking on the band’s homepage link at the top! Gracias!