Melbourne nurse punk band Würst Nürse have used their latest single to focus on one of the biggest problems faced by healthcare workers today. No, it’s not the COVID-19 pandemic, but rather the rising prevalence of violence against those who exist to care for those in need.
Having first formed back in 2016, Würst Nürse initially came into existence when “five nurses with put down their scalpels to pick up their instruments”. Immediately, history was made, with the group cementing themselves as the world’s best (and only) nurse punk band.
Launching their debut EP in 2018, the group mixed blistering punk rock with themes relating to its members as healthcare workers, all while supporting classic names such as The Damned, Cosmic Psychos, and Clowns, and well and truly putting themselves on the map.
The last few years haven’t been exactly full of gigs or new material from Würst Nürse though, and one look at the events of 2020 until now sort of explains why that is. Spending the majority of their time back helping the general public instead of entertaining them, the band’s members were forced to witness the rise of some rather sobering statistics firsthand.
While violence against healthcare workers was already labelled a “rising epidemic” back in 2019, the advent of a global pandemic soon saw tensions rise swiftly. As recently as October of 2021, a study revealed that 31% of healthcare workers had reported an increase in violence within the workplace – an 11% increase in just six months.
Needless to say, healthcare workers are fed up, with a musical response giving rise to the likes of Würst Nürse’s latest single. Dubbed “I’m Not Your Punching Bag”, the three-minute track does what it says on the tin – utilising a pounding, distorted stoner-rock instrumental as furious ’90s-era riot grrrl vocals spell out just what it’s like on the frontline.
“And still we take your shit, forgive the state you’re in,” the track notes, underlining how healthcare workers find themselves “criticised, dehumanised, vilified” on an almost daily basis.
Interestingly though, the group explain that the song pre-dates the more recent spikes in violence against healthcare workers, effectively underlining how necessary it is to put an end to such abuse.
“We actually wrote this song pre-pandemic as we struggled to understand the various types of abuse that healthcare workers face when at work,” the band wrote on Facebook. “Never did we think that this abuse could extend outside of the hospital and never did we think that HCWs would be harassed, spat on and assaulted in the streets for merely wearing their uniforms.
“We refuse to believe that tolerating this kind of behaviour is ‘just part of the job’. For too long nurses have been fed this narrative and we say that that’s not good enough. We want better support in hospitals to keep us safe and pay that reflects the risks we are exposed to when at work.
“Please, STOP glorifying us ‘heroes’, this implies that we are superhuman and fails to recognise our needs,” they conclude. “START treating us as members of the community who deserve basic human respect.”
The single also comes accompanied by a music video, directed by Wild Rose Pictures, and filmed during the lockdowns of 2021. Gathering collective voices of their colleagues, Würst Nürse recruited fellow nurses to film themselves for the clip, with the communal nature of their presence only amplifying the final message; “Respect your nurse, even the würst; respect our work.”
“I’m Not Your Punching Bag” is set to appear on the band’s forthcoming EP, The Würst Nürse Curse, which is set to arrive in the coming months, and will be launched with a live show at Melbourne’s Gasometer Hotel. Stay tuned for more details.
Würst Nürse’s “I’m Not Your Punching Bag” is out now.