Q&A

Paul Collins and Peter Case on the First Time They Heard the Ramones and The State of Power Pop

See also: Peter Case of The Nerves/Plimsouls, on the Blues, Powerpop and a Fixed Up Heart

Maybe the name "The Nerves" doesn't immediately strike a bell, but chances are "Hanging on the Telephone" will. A single from Blondie's stone-cold classic 1978 LP Parallel Lines, the song was actually written by Nerves drummer Jack Lee and performed by the San Francisco-based power-pop trio of Lee, Paul Collins, and Peter Case.

Following the dissolution of The Nerves, Collins and Case would go on to cement their melodic rock legacies, with Collins fronting chiming rock band The Beat (or Paul Collins' Beat, as litigation with The English Beat would eventually force) and Case forming the R&B/new wave-inflected Plimsouls.

The past few years have seen a steady uptick in recognition of all Collins/Case associated bands: Alive Records has steadily reissued their respective catalogs (even unearthing unreleased stuff like the post-Nerves/pre-Plimsouls/Beat band The Breakaways) and young acts on labels like Burger Records and Volar Records (the latter released an excellent Nerves tribute record) paying homage to the minimal, pop-driven sound of the band.

The duo kept has kept in touch over the years, and with interest at a high, they've hit the road, playing with a full backing band and a catalog of power-pop classics in tow.

"Power pop is healthier today than when it started," Collins laughs over the phone from NYC. He and Case spoke with me about the Nerves' legacy, the youth of today, and what it was like hearing The Ramones for the first time.

Paul Collins and Peter Case are scheduled to perform Tuesday, March 13, at the Rhythm Room.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.