Divine Inspiration: An Interview with The Nursery

From 1917 to 1926, the U.S. Radium Corporation was responsible for the use of radium-based paints that ultimately poisoned numerous women employed as dial painters in two of their factories. Their story recently made its way back to mainstream media with a novel, The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore, and a film, Radium Girls, which premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. It also inspired the latest single from Toronto-based trio The Nursery.

“I know it sounds crazy, but this was one of those rare occurrences where something literally came from a sequence of dreams,” lead vocalist and guitarist Alex Pulec said. “Not all night dreams, but daydreams. As I would close my eyes and sit in silence, these hard-to-make-out figures, which looked like ghosts, claiming to be the dead girls themselves, re-telling their story and asking for a song. ‘Aren’t you a musician? Write a song!’ So I thought if that’s not divine inspiration I don’t know what is.”

He doesn’t remember anything specifically said by the girls he saw in his dreams, but he felt a friendly yet resilient aura about them. He does remember their command to give the song a rock and roll vibe.

This was also a chance for the band to write a song that wasn’t about a specific experience of their own. Pulec liked the idea of not writing a song about himself or anything he experienced, but to add a selfless element to a song.

Radium Girls” is a song most similar to their older recordings, yet very different from what is on their upcoming release, Candy + Gloom. Not only did they believe it was the perfect transition song into their new sound, but it became an unintentional perfect quarantine song.

“Not because it's about being lonely or locked inside, but because it talks about the existential threat of death looming over us and the quality of the information about the safety of the substance making people sick,” Pulec said.

It’s been a few years since their first release, Life After Wartime, and since then they have spent a lot of time learning about the different perspectives of creating an album. They learned how to really listen and understand what each song needs in terms of production as well as the many different ways they can execute the recording of a song.

“Our favorite tracks saw us drawing outside the lines of our so-called ‘genre’ or even regular lineup of instrumentation,” Pulec said. “The whole process really proved to us that experimentation and trusting our gut was the key to creating art that we felt was singular to ourselves.”

They also spent the time in between releases creating their own studio near the lakeshore in Toronto. By having their own place to record they have the freedom to take their time with production and eliminate the stresses that come with booked studio time.

“No rushing takes, writing parts or arranging because the clock is ticking dollars away,” Pulec said. “The adventurous nature of this process was more inspiring and gave us more hours to get lost in what we were creating… For this new record, we're loving the feeling of fully committing to this creation philosophy.”

So what can listeners expect from Candy + Gloom? They’ve blurred the lines on the definition of “genre” and instead created an approach of anything goes as long as it fits within the idea and expressions of the song. By taking this freedom, they’ve made these songs more sonically and emotionally intense versions of their previous music.

“The darkness looms darker. The colors are more vivid. The energetic moments are more ecstatic. Lyrically the songs reach into deeper emotional experiences. Like the title suggests, many of the songs reference that increasing balance of boomeranging of emotions felt day to day,” Pulec said.

The Nursery is changing everything about their creation process, from where they draw inspiration from to their sound and production time. When they release Candy + Gloom later this year, listeners will get the opportunity to hear this band become the next best version of themselves.