Nathan Moore is a guitarist‚ songwriter‚ and vocalist who plays in ThaMuseMeant‚ and has put out numerous solo albums on Frogville Records. He's a young man with a guitar‚ but gives you the feeling he's an old soul; his lyrics possess poetic magic and his songs are timeless. As a storyteller he takes you on a journey that's revealing and captivating‚ and in front of an audience he's entertaining as hell.
It was a pleasure having the opportunity to have a long conversation with Nathan. Stay tuned for part two of this conversation.
Mike McKinley: Seeing you play with The Slip (Surprise Me Mr. Davis Tour) was my first real experience hearing you. I was talking with Brad (Barr) outside afterwards and he said‚ "Nathan - I can't compete with that guy's songwriting. He's amazing." And you openly on stage talked about how amazing their musicianship the one thing you talked about is how you were having a tough time playing one of their tunes that is in the timing of five.
Nathan Moore: I'm still struggling with that stuff. It's challenging to learn and it can be completely's like staring at the Encyclopedia Britannica collection and deciding to memorize it. That's the way it seems to me. My natural talent with music is frustratingly deficient (laughter). I was lying in bed last night thinking about that before I fell asleep. I was thinking if I had any musical talent at all or if it all just came from my love of music. I think I have more love for it than actual talent and the rest just comes from sweat (laughs).
MM: Right. Doesn't it seem like that's the most important thing?
NM: What‚ the sweat?
MM: Yeah.
NM: (Laughing) I guess so...I hope it counts for something.
MM: That's the real deal of it all I guess.
NM: That's true‚ that's true. But then it's so easy for me to stand in complete awe of my heroes‚ and The Slip are some of my heroes for sure. But from all the great poets of the reading Rimbaud who changed poetry before he was 21 years old. I mean...what does that mean? (Laughter) And as a songwriter‚ somebody like Bob Dylan is just so odd to me; it's just so inspiring to me and so painful at the same time.
MM: Yeah‚ well he's just…
NM: Like my heroes want to make me give up sometimes‚ but then I turn on the radio and I'm like‚ "At least I'm better than that." (Laughter)
MM: At least I don't have to be that‚ right? Right on...but I think every musician must deal with that. I remember interviewing a young guitarist (Tommy Hamilton‚ Brothers Past) in a really great band‚ and in the middle of the interview he's talking about all of his tunes and then he just comes out says something like‚ "You can listen to the Stones and The Beatles and know that you'll never write a song that fucking good!" (Laughter) And he goes on to talk about how they write songs that make him feel so much‚ you know‚ and how could he ever possibly make music that makes someone feel that way. I mean that stuff will fuck with your brain forever. And with Bob Dylan...he can go inside of my head and tell me what I've been thinking in the most intimate way. He has a way of expression like nobody else.
NM: That's the other thing that drives me a little crazy - we did a gig last night and I did this bit...well‚ you can take any song‚ even if it's a bad song and sing it like Bob Dylan and all of a sudden it sounds incredibly important. (Laughter) You can sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" like Bob Dylan and all of the sudden it sounds really important. I see that in a lot in my heroes - in their voice‚ in the way Bob Dylan or Tom Waits delivers a lyric where the way they sing the lyric kicks it up another five notches from the brilliance of the words and it just takes it off to another realm. So there's that part of finding your voice in being a singer-songwriter that's very literal...not just a metaphor‚ but how you sing a song. And to hear really early Tom Waits and realize that at one point in his life he actually did go‚ "Wow‚ this sounds really cool when I sing like that." He was an LA guy; he's not this bum from New Orleans like I imagined him to be when I was 15 years old and I first heard him. I was like‚ "Wow‚ this black guy from New Orleans‚" and it turns out to be this white guy from LA who found this character that really worked for him and went with it and that drove me crazy for years. I just felt like‚ "Man‚ if I could find my character." (Laughter) I have this alter-ego called Percy Boyd.
MM: So that's who Percy Boyd is. What's the idea behind that?
NM: I guess...I guess it started with that fascination of seeing these entertainers that became these different characters and alter egos so they could do a different thing‚ and so it was about coming up with something that would allow me to incorporate something different into the act. It was like freeing myself from myself to a certain extent‚ because a lot of my art is about being really open and revealing‚ and being Nathan. I was always fascinated with coming up with a character where I could let go of myself and part with some of the internal dialogues and stuff like that. I still find it really hard. My dad one night on the back porch told me‚ "Son‚ I think you need to come up with something." You know‚ because he would hear me talk about stuff and how I would be really confused on one level wanting to appeal to everyone and wanting people like my grandparents and their friends to love my music‚ and then on the other hand wanting to be really politically subversive. So...sorry‚ I'm just rambling here - my brain just fires on a million cylinders at once (laughter). But I was thinking about someone like Willie Nelson who just pulls it off. So dealing with all that stuff with my identity as a performer and my dad came up with the idea that I should come up with an alter ego. So I was like‚ how about Percy Boyd? He was a character in a book I read. So then I went to Santa Fe and my friends in this band Hundred Year Flood and I joined forces one summer and became this band called Percy Boyd‚ and then it started taking off from there. I put out a record called Percy Boyd's Lost Tracks. I actually just made a record called Pirating and Polly Ticks which I'm thinking about putting out as a pure Percy Boyd record. It works well for songs or ideas that I don't exactly know how to attach to myself‚ I just throw them into the Percy Boyd thing (laughter).
What Percy Boyd was mostly was my original stuff with this band and any song that had to do with hoboes. He's sort of this modern day hobo and it makes a lot of room for political ramifications and stuff because a hobo has less of a place in the world today then they used to. And considering that a hobo is a wandering spirit in the modern day world‚ it's a complicated and beautiful idea. So singing old hobo songs laced with my own modern day traveling songs is sort of a fun character. And maybe he'll make it before I do (laughter).
MM: He might do okay.
NM: He's probably out there having one hell of a time right now.