Posts Tagged ‘ Folk ’

WE TALK OCCASIONALLY: AN INTERVIEW WITH DESTROY NATE ALLEN

My friends Nate and Tessa are at it again! Today marks the release of their new full length records, “With Our Powers Combined“. For this release they have taken their unique brand of “interactive sing-a-long fun punk” to a new level by enlisting the help of Asian Man Records’ Gnarboots to serve as their back-up band. Usually performing as a two-piece, Destroy Nate Allen has evolved from a solo act to a husband/wife team constantly putting out new records and travelling the country. They are one of the sweetest/hardest working couples I know. I love them and you might, too.

Check out what Nate had to say about the new record, the importance of community, and their upcoming plans.

1. Tell me a little bit about your journey from being a show promoter to a nearly full-time touring musician.

Haha. I liked that you used the word nearly. There is too much truth in that. I started promoting shows when I was 17. It quickly became a passion and something I very much enjoy to this day. For many years I was mainly a promoter and thus I grew to approach music from a very business-y standpoint. I never thought I’d be touring musician in fact I don’t even really remember it being a pipe dream. From 2002-2004, I ran non-profit just focusing on all-ages events and I thought I would do it forever, and then I decided to move to San Francisco.

Over the course of my first few months there I plunged into a severe depression and playing music took on a new role in my life. I stopped playing music as a hobby and started playing it for survival. After a while I had a sort of light bulb moment, I realized through prayer and circumstance that I’d built my life’s foundation on bitterness, fear, and reaction… and that bad fuel was running out. I was challenged by a friend to stop performing music for a season and focus on personal growth. I took his advice. Looking back it was one of the best decisions of my life.

Not playing shows for a year allowed me to focus on deeper core issues… and in a strange twist when I started playing guitar again everything was different. Before my songs just sounded like crappy Johnny Cash rip offs… now people sang-a-long. It was weird. I decided to add Destroy (in front of my current performing name of Nate Allen) and recorded an album.

As fate would have it I decided to get in a van and try my hand at touring… I tend to be an all-or-nothing sort of guy so my first US tour was 6 months long. I was alone for most of it. I came back a different person and nearly full-time touring musician.

2. You started out doing Destroy Nate Allen as a solo act and later, after you got married, added your wife Tessa to the act. Can you tell me a little bit about that evolution? What have you learned from collaborating with your wife in music and on the road?

To be quite honest you are partly to blame for me adding Tessa to the act. I’m not sure she would have ever been allowed in the band if we hadn’t spent a week playing shows together. During that week, I witnessed your evolution of allowing Lisa to play music with you. I don’t remember if you actually said the words but I recall some sort of dialogue along the lines of you realizing you were just having fun in a crappy little band, and there was no good reason Lisa couldn’t have fun right along side you.

That made an impact and when we got married I invited Tessa to join the band. We figured we’d just learn to make it work for our crappy little band. She likes to say that the first year she learned to play tambourine and the next year she learned to sing, but the important part was we were living out our adventures together. It has been priceless.

We like to say that being in band is harder than being married. Having to learn how to construct art together has been difficult. We are very different people. We’ve spent nearly half our marriage together in a van and working in very close quarters… I think that can be exhausting to Tessa because I have a pretty big appetite for conversation. I can confidently say though that the process has been well worth it. We are a stronger couple because of the decision to travel together. I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone but more artists should be traveling with there partners and not leaving the people they love most behind.

3. What is it that keeps pushing you along making music and touring? Why do you do what you do? Continue reading

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SHIFTING SAND: AN INTERVIEW WITH MIKE VIAL

If you have ever been one to enjoy a good story that involves the main character taking a huge risk, giving up comfort and security, to follow a dream, you’ll find yourself inspired by my friend, Mike Vial. Mike left his job of teaching high school for the last 7 years to have a go at a career in full-time music. He has 3 releases under his belt and has grown with every effort. If you met him at one of his shows, his warm, unassuming attitude wouldn’t give you the impression that he’s such an adventurer. But that’s what he is and that’s what makes his story so compelling to me. A guy, a guitar, and a big heart taking a chance out on his own. Have a seat and listen in to our recent conversation.

You recently left a job as a teacher to pursue music full time. Can you talk a little bit about what was behind that and how the process has been for you?

Great question, Jason! Leaving the schedule of a high school teaching career was a difficult choice, but it was essential to focus and dedicate time to practicing, writing, and working through the music business.

For seven years I felt I could walk two roads and do both well, but there was always a fork in the path; I always had to put the guitar down and give up gigging until summer returned. The number of papers that followed me home and the constant, changing curriculum plans made teaching a 12 hour a day job, taking many hours of my weekends too. I really loved working with the students in the classroom, but if you look at my past gig schedule, you can see where I just stop gigging.

I also think I needed to experience more to become a better teacher. Only working in the classroom started to feel like I was running out of life experience to offer my students. Being an independent musician is like being a small business owner, so if I return to the teaching profession, I’m excited to have a lot more business and travel experience to bring to my classroom.

However, let’s not forget I’m still teaching. I now do private lessons for guitar and really enjoy it.

Over the last few years you have released 3 records. Can you share a little bit about each one of those releases and what your learned from each experience or writing and recording them?

My first EP, Three Men Make a Tiger, is a snapshot of a 25-year-old learning how to be a studio musician for the first time. Marshall Block at Real II Reel Studios helped guide me through that recording process.

“Mahogany” was written in my dorm room and “Intelligent Fool” and “Faster Than Slow” were written my second weekend as a teacher, so you have a young Mike Vial on that record! The chinese proverb of the EP’s title highlights the theme of “Pieces of This World,” but it also hints at the over arching theme of searching, making choices. And who isn’t searching when they are 19, 21, 25? Right? Boy I sure was!

Burning the Boats didn’t feel that different to me until quite a few people told me how it felt like a hearing a new Mike Vial. Bill Keith of the Trinity House told me he could hear the songwriting growth between the two records, and that gave me confidence. Honestly, what I love about that EP is how long I left some of those songs on the shelf before deciding they were strong enough to record. I played Cory Glover part of “Kalamazoo” which I almost never finished, and he told me it was going to be a great song and that it had to make the record.

Plus, working with Dan Achen at Catherine North Studios (before he passed away suddenly) really affect my life. Dan taught me things through his musical direction that I’m still practicing–how to add counter melodies to songs and move beyond a solo acoustic guitar player. He had a great, musical ear.  Some of the best direction he gave me is in Kalamazoo, from the guitar fills to the vocal cadences, and the band production on “Only the Rain Knows Why.”

Where the Sand Meets the Tide is about arrivals and departures. The theme of “transitions” is hiding beneath the love stories, and my career change is obviously inspiring that. One new arrival for me is working with more full band arrangements. Stuart Tucker’s playing drums, David Mosher’s on fiddle and mandolin, Kirk Starkey’s on cello, Hannah’s on backing vocals.

I’m really proud of this little release. Working with moon:and:6 (Michael Chambers) again at Catherine North was like a musical vacation, too. Michael and I became close friends while finishing Burning the Boats, so it just made sense to cross the border again to do the third EP.

Can you share a little bit about how community and/or collaboration has influenced you as a musician? Continue reading

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