Due to a lack of interest from my intended publisher, I have decide to present to you the long awaited interview with Nate Heller, in its entirety. Nate Heller is a Bay Area musician, whose projects include the band She Beards. She Beards will be performing at Snob Theater @ Dark Room Theater on October 28th. 10 PM. $10. More information: Here. Thank you for your patience. Thank you Nate Heller for the interview.
[Note: This interview occurred Spring/Summer 2011]
Courting Comedy: What was the first instrument you learned to play, what’s your current instrument of choice and what’s an instrument you wish you knew how to play?
Nate Heller: Mom put me in piano lessons when I was about four or five years old, with our neighborhood teacher Amy (whose son Andrew happened to be my best friend at the time). Shortly after that Andrew and I went into the Piedmont boys chorus a couple of days after school. It was wretched. I hated it so much that I often faked being sick to get out of going (I liked faking sick a lot as a kid). This totally backfired when I feigned illness on the day that we got to perform the National Anthem at an A’s game. I must have forgotten that it was happening cause I was a huge Ricky Henderson fan and would have given my undescended left testicle to meet him.
Currently guitar is my primary instrument (and voice I guess), although I own a banjo, a piano, and an accordion. I can still play keyboard okay, but I’m pretty piss-poor at all the others. It’s still fun to mess around on them anyway. I guess I wish I spend more time learning accordion, cause the one I have is a really beautiful one that my friend Gabe gave me a few years ago. His dad gave it to him, and when we lived together I played around on it so much that he gave it to me for my birthday.
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.