Interview: Nate Heller [Preview]

A couple of months ago I conducted a correspondence interview with musician Nate Heller. Nate is the current front man of band She Beards whom will be performing at Bottom of the Hill this Thursday (8/25) alongside Wave Array and Lucky Jesus. More information on that event is available: here.

Technically the interview is destined for “Antithesis Comedy" in the near future, but in the meantime we present a section as a preview of what’s to come. Also featured is a selection from She Beard’s latest EP. Enjoy after the jump.


What was your first favorite band and what band shaped your current appreciation for music?

I’ve always loved music - family holidays usually saw us crowded around the piano with mom playing and everyone singing along.  Our mom and dad were pretty instrumental in us kids’ desire to be creative. Mom was especially encouraging (or forceful?).  She really wanted me to be able to read music and be able to sing, which I will reluctantly admit that piano lessons and boys chorus helped immensely with. 

But like most kids, I think I really started to become opinionated and devoted to bands around age eleven or twelve.  Weird Al was the first CD that I owned, but when puberty hit I started having more “serious” feelings about music. 

I had an unhealthy obsession with Smashing Pumpkins, but I also loved Green Day, Weezer and Jimi Hendrix.  This was also around the time that I convinced dad to buy me an electric guitar unbeknownst to mom, and soon she stopped insisting that I stay in piano lessons and I switched to guitar.

What defines you most: are you a musician, a producer, a songwriter, a hybrid or something else completely?

Wow, that’s a tough question.  I definitely don’t think of myself as a musician primarily.  Whenever I play music with really good musicians who are classically trained, or just practice a lot, I realize that my I just don’t have the chops they do.  I love to produce music and write songs, and I think my biggest strength as a producer and musician is being able to listen to a piece of music as a whole and add or subtract elements based on what the song needs. 

I guess I like to think that I am part of a newer generation of artists who can do everything themselves - It’s really easy to set up a studio in your house, compose a beat, add some instruments and write vocals these days.  Going into the studio even when I first started playing in bands was a much more expensive and time-consuming process.  Now, from my home studio, I am able to produce mashups, full band recordings, music for TV and film, etc. 

A few of the most recent things I’ve done that [illustrates] how diverse a home studio can be - I composed a really stupid intro song for Emily’s FCC radio show (in about ten minutes), I finished 25 tracks of music for a company that licenses songs for TV and film purposes, and I also produced a song for my extremely talented thirteen year old neice who had never been in a recording studio before.  It came out so good that I plan on recording a full album with her this summer.

How many bands have you been in?

I’ve been in hella bands. Is hella a number?  I’ll say around 7-8 bands that actually practiced regularly and/or played shows.

What was the name of your first band?

My first band was called “Sugarfoot”.

How did your current band, She Beards, come together?

She Beards began forming when a band I was in called Wendy Darling started kinda coming to an end.  That band started in San Diego, and I convinced all the members to move to the Bay Area with me.  We had a pretty good run of having management/agents and touring big festivals around the country, but Bay Area life didn’t seem to suit two of the members who moved back to SD.  We continued to tour for about a year after that, but developing new material and practicing is pretty hard when you are 600 miles apart.

Jon (who is the bass player of She Beards) was also the one member of Wendy Darling that continued to live in the Bay, and he and I continued to work on new material together.  Then we jammed a few times with Carmen playing synthesizer, and I thought “I should write some vocals for these songs.”  I hadn’t really considered singing before then, but I thought we were writing some catchy songs that could use vocals.  Over the next months we hooked up with our drummer, Bryce, who was a friend of a friend and within playing with the full band a few times I pretty much had my mind made up that we needed to start recording and play some shows.

You are apart of the musical duo “Rainbow Chair” with your sister Emily. What was the first collaboration between you two?

Me and Em have been collaborating for several years, on projects of varying stupidity.  Rainbow Chair is probably the silliest.  The first collabo I can remember vividly was at our middle school - I was in 8th grade, and Emily was in 6th.  I played guitar and Em sang “In My Life” by the Beatles.  There was not a dry eye in the house when we finished.

Sister Song by. She Beards