Nate Currin is an Atlanta, Georgia based singer/songwriter who’s been captivating audiences for years with his tall tales, compelling songwriting and Southern charm (with a hint of grit). This past April, Nate released his latest record titled, The Madman and the Poet which you can buy on iTunes now. I was given the opportunity to ask Nate some questions about how his latest record came to be, how music eventually became his career and much more. Check it out!
MFL: Who are your biggest influences in terms of music and how do they affect the style or content of your songs/records?
NC: My influences have always been very wide and diverse, and I would say that lyrically and musically they’ve been different over the years. I feel like in terms of lyric writing, I’ve always drawn from the great songwriters: the Bob Dylan’s, Johnny Cash, etc. And more recently, really enjoyed the writing of younger artists such as Jason Isbell. From a music or melody standpoint, I really draw from a myriad of sources: everyone from Radiohead to Elton John to Bruce Springsteen, etc. Anyone who works up interesting and unique melodies, yet keeps them accessible to a degree.
MFL: At what point in your life did you decide that music was the career you were going to pursue?
NC: It really took me a while… I was playing and writing some in college, but it wasn’t until a few years after college that I quit my job as an art director to pursue music full-time. It was a slow process for me… I didn’t just wake up one day and decide I was going to pursue only music as my occupation. It was something I always enjoyed, but never thought I could survive simply playing and performing. But gradually that happened over a period of several years.
MFL: You mention that The Madman and the Poet is a concept album. Does this set this record apart from your previous records and how was the writing process different than your other records if it was?
NC: It does in a way, however this isn’t my first concept album. The Pilgrim, which came out in 2013, was a story-based concept album. And though, The Madman and the Poet is a concept album, the songs still are songs about individual issues or isolated circumstances, relationships, etc. And I think that resonates more with listeners.
MFL: What are the biggest differences in your music between now and the first record you released back in 2009?
NC: Though there are certainly some big differences stylistically, musically, and even lyrically, from a maturity standpoint, I think the biggest difference would be writing for myself vs. writing for my listener. In the early days, I was so concerned with trying to write the perfect song for the listener, or for radio, or for whatever that I often times tried to force things, work in rhymes that didn’t mean anything, or attempt to be catchy for the sake of being catchy. Time has taught me to simply write for me, share my story, put my thoughts into song… and though it might not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ it will resonate with those who it’s supposed to resonate with.
MFL: What made “Midnight Train” stick out as a single to you? There are so many great tracks on this album.
NC: Thank you! I really appreciate that. We debated over several tracks as the first single, but in the end: I decided that “Midnight Train” was so different from much of my past work, I wanted to give listeners a preview of just how different we were going… and then bring them back somewhat with the next single, “Birmingham.”
MFL: Storytelling seems like it comes naturally to you. Do you know why this is?
NC: I really don’t… I’ve always been a writer in some way. I used to write short stories in middle school, and have always loved to read. So, perhaps that has helped. But it’s my favorite part of the process… I just want to share stories with the listener and do it in a creative and unique way.
MFL: What kind of venues are your favorite to play at or would be your favorite to play at? For example, sold out arenas or dive bars?
NC: In all honesty, just anywhere where I have listeners. I’ve played some fairly large venues in front of a couple of thousand people at a time and have played plenty of dive bars with fewer than 10 people in the room. And it’s the same… it really is: as long as there are people who are listening and letting the songs resonate with them. That being said: I do love house concerts though. They’re a low stress, intimate way of getting to know a new group of people and really interact on a personal level with that group. And there are some listening rooms and venues that really feel almost like house shows, but I know it’s impossible to have that feel everywhere. So, we make the best of whatever stage we’re blessed to play on.
MFL: How has the new record been received by crowds and what seem to be the crowd favorites from the newest record?
NC: Pretty good so far… You never know how a new record will resonate. And I’m sure there are some folks who just haven’t enjoyed it as much as others, but overall, the reception seems to be good. There are certainly the crowd favorites: “MidnightTrain”, “City of Angels” and especially “Birmingham”, which is getting a significant amount of radio play nationwide. But I’ve noticed that among the “thinkers” in the room, it’s usually a different song or songs. I’ll notice 1 or 2 or a couple of people per show that really seem to be engaged with the lyrics/stories, and afterwards they’re more likely the ones that come over and talk to me. And for them I’ve noticed the favorites tend to be songs like “Sinner or Saint” or even the title track, “A Madman and a Poet.”
MFL: Are there any upcoming locations you’re looking forward to playing the most and why?
NC: Really all of them… the way I look at it is that every night is an opportunity to connect with new people. And usually we do. I love meeting new folks, making new friends and experiencing new places. So, every single day on tour is an adventure and the next step on the journey. That being said: I do have my favorites spots and stops, and am looking forward to seeing friends and family in places like St. Pete, FL (The Hideaway Cafe) and Muscle Shoals, AL (116 E Mobile). But also looking forward to getting back to the West coast and playing the Hotel Cafe (Los Angeles) and seeing plenty of friends in SF at the Hotel Utah Saloon.
Big thanks to Nate for taking the time to answer my questions and thanks to Michael Browne of Far Digital for facilitating! Catch Nate Currin on tour this spring and summer!