A Noisome Birth in Fevered Times: Phnom Penh’s NIGHTMARE A.D.

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Mike Priest
Mike at his record store in Singapore, Hell’s Labyrinth – pic: Penny Torture.
To be honest, I
was quite jaded with playing in bands or getting involved in music
when I first came to Phnom Penh two years ago. I owned a Heavy Metal
record store in Singapore, played in established bands for years,
released albums and EPs as well as having toured both Europe and Asia. I’ve
had members quit on me during and after recordings – citing work
reasons or because they needed to concentrate on their families.
Singapore is a tough place in a sense that you have to keep making
enough money to make ends meet due to an impetuous economic inflation
(the most expensive place in the world, according to the BBC). If
you’re a Metal musician in Asia, you know you aren’t doing this
for the money because there’s no money to be made. The main
priority was to release a notable album or EP and cover as much of
the cost as possible through sales and shows. My bands were under
different labels; the smaller labels usually didn’t pay for the
recording costs but at least they funded the pressing and gave us
more copies of the release for us to sell at shows. Bigger labels
paid tour support money, gave a budgeted sum for recording and
handled the pressing of the record.
Mike performing with IMPIETY – live in Stockholm, Sweden.
pic: Extremmetal.se
I moved to Phnom
Penh after Kandibhan (one of the first members of NIGHTMARE A.D.)
whom I knew for years asked me to come on down for a holiday since he
was working in Phnom Penh. The lease on my rented apartment was
nearly up and I didn’t have a place of my own, so I decided to go
on a holiday and check out Cambodia for the first time. Having
travelled South-east Asia extensively in the past, I noticed that
Cambodia was different and decided to plant myself down in Phnom
Penh. I talked to Kandibhan about forming a band for fun, playing
MISFITS covers and we had Gem Habito (guitars) and Todd Bazley
(drums) join the band. We played our first few shows at Sharky Bar,
which became the launching pad for us in terms of exposure and
networking with other bands and people involved in Phnom Penh’s
music scene. We started to branch out after to venues like Slur Bar
and Showbox but even then we never disregarded the venue where we cut
our teeth on in Cambodia.
Nightmare AD at Sharky Bar – pic: Kang Predi
We encountered
line-up problems as Kandibhan wasn’t very committed – he kept
leaving and coming back into the band as and when he wanted due to
personal issues (he eventually returned to Singapore). Gem was
leaving Cambodia as well, so there were some changes that needed to
be made as Todd and I were the only ones left in the band then. I
felt that doing just MISFITS covers or covers in general wasn’t the
way to go, so I re-approached the entire concept of NIGHTMARE A.D.
and decided to do the kind of music I felt most passionate about.
Thrash Metal with strong tinges of Hardcore Punk and Crust was pretty
much the formula derived in terms of original material. It was a
turbulent rebirth of the band but it was worth the effort;
transitioning from a MISFITS cover band to a full-on Thrash Metal
Crossover band with original material. We recruited Genesis Sayo
Trias from THE ADOBO CONSPIRACY on bass but he has since switched to
rhythm guitar since Ned Kelly of SANGVAR DAY joined the band as the
new bass player after helping us get a show at Showbox with Brazilian
Death Thrashers NERVOCHAOS and Japanese Experimental Grinders SETE
Original members of Nightmare AD: Todd Bazley and Mike Priest – pic: Steve Porte. 
As for lyrical
inspiration, seeing (and sometimes experiencing) the poverty, the
crime and the corruption living in Phnom Penh provides much fuel for
vitriolic, angered expressions. Aside from the expat community, life
in Cambodia isn’t easy by any means; the harshness of reality
really bites deep, thus the lyrics of NIGHTMARE A.D. are a reflection
of all these malignant tumours that grow in the seedy underbelly of
Cambodian society.
We got in touch with Yab Moung Records, owned by Myles and Timon, to release our EP titled “Corruptors” and they were enthusiastic about the idea. The five-track EP has since been recorded in their studio in Kandal Province and is now being mixed by Danzo of PHNOM SKOR. We are looking at late May as the date of release. Aside from the upcoming EP, we are still writing new material as well as planning to do a music video (arranged by Yab Moung Records as well) for one of the songs off the EP. A small tour is also being planned, but it’s better to take things step by step sometimes instead of fucking everything up by being in a rush to get things done. I guess this is where we have found ourselves after two years, not too shabby for a bunch of Metal dudes.

Nightmare AD at Showbox, Phnom Penh – pic: David DSN

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