Nate Allen has been known as Destroy Nate Allen since 2006 and now he has finally released his first album with national distribution, marking a new direction for his music as Nate Allen & the Pac-Away Dots. This new entity exist in the cathartic space between plaintive indie rock, soul-bearing folk, blunt southern blues & jagged rock n’ roll and its debut full length reord was written by a workaholic during the throes of unemployment. On “Take Out The Trash”, Nate’s serious-but-hopeful, super-conscious lyrics are contrasted by a lighthearted beat, gang vocals and sometimes a kazoo, banjo or harmonica. IDIOTEQ has decided to sit down with this inspiring artist, discuss his new, minimalist yet smart and driving sound and its message.
Hey Nate! Thanks so much for reaching out and taking some time with IDIOTEQ!
How are you?
I’m good. How are you?
Thanks, I’m fine and stoked to have this opportunity to dig deep into your new record! How’s this autumn been treating you and how does a new skin of Nate Allen & The Pac-Away Dots make you feel?
Well I’ve spent most of October on the road with the new skin and so it’s more comfortable but still feels pretty different.
How was your transition from Destroy Nate Allen?
I would say the transition is in process. We’re still doing DNA but the new project is definitely taking on its own form. In some ways it’s the complete opposite of DNA on multiple levels so it is taking some getting used to.
Can we even call it an artistic transformation?
I think that’s fair. Now that I’ve played a handful of shows the difference between the projects are clearer than ever.
What inspired you to embrace such a bluesy, acoustic, almost minimal sound? Was that something you were aiming for from the very start of your creative process?
I was really into in Portland at the time – which was very bluesy. I tend to gravitate toward minimalism musically and I think that definitely came through as well. There was not a large scope vision when we started the project evolved over time.
Compared to you previous recordings, did you approach your work differently for this new offering?
Before working on Take Out The Trash, I completed a songbook that gave me a great chance to reflect on my past recordings and mistakes. I was able to apply my new knowledge to the writing process for this album.
When did you first consider yourself a writer / composer?
I wrote my first set of lyrics when I was 15 and I’ve been writing ever sense. I would say title of writer took some getting used to. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve realized how big of a role it plays in my person processing and health.
Considering this point in your life, was there something that told you it was time to create such an honest and personal album like “Take Out The Trash”? Tell me more about the content you try to attract your listeners to this time.
Trash is definitely a step in a more vulnerable direction for me artistically but it mirrors seasons of learning I’ve been in away from music as well. There are definite themes of and discussions about racism, equality, violence, unemployment / burnout, exhaustion and growing up on the album. A lot of the content seems to circle back to one line in the song Social Equality “The ideas that correspond with all that we’ve done wrong we are free to exchange”. So in some ways the record is confession of things I’m personally working on and I’d like to invite listeners to take out there OWN trash – whatever that may be.
To what extent do you think writing about such issues matters to listeners today?
I think it’s more important than ever to talk about growth and the ways we can change personally. I am believer that personal growth and awakening can lead to social change. That being said I’m also at the age where some people start to slow down a bit and work on their internal mess. I’ve talked to enough people in the last few years to know I’m not alone in this.
I wrote the Take Out The Trash in the middle of a personal season of learning and about myself and also listening to perspectives and stories different than mine. I wasn’t really writing the songs for an audience so that discussions would be furthered or started.
In the time that has passed (I started writing the album in 2013) though the social climate has changed in many ways. The album feels in like it was written for the times were in. I wrote Trash in Oregon but we now live in Missouri – where our issues of equality, fairness and racism are making international news. It’s very interesting and constantly eye opening to my still sheltered at times middle class white guy eyes to see how much needs to change for people to feel safe and respected.
How would you describe the state of American social, political and historical awareness today? Has it changed over the years?
Socially and politically I would say there is greater awareness now than I have personally seen, but sometimes I wonder if there is a really greater awareness or just more excitement on social media.
Where is the future of modern society going with such rapid changes, digital revolution, innovation and globalization?
I’m not sure where this is all going but sometimes it feels like an unstoppable force. I’m definitely convinced all the rapid changes are NOT for the better. I would say in the areas you mentioned there is good and bad. For instance, I know people who do the majority of their communication digitally and they seem to be losing the ability to have normal conversations and interactions. I definitely prefer to have face to face conversations as often as possible. I also love some of the technological advances but sometime I wonder if society is changes at such a pace that we’ll all burn out and lose many important things along the way. It should also be noted that at least in the areas of globalization and much innovation; many advances often come at great cost to those less fortunate.
Ok Nate, so back to your project, where can we catch you live? Apart from the recent October run, are there more shows for this winter and beyond?
I’ll be playing some regional shows for the next few months. I’d really love to travel internationally if possible soon. I don’t think I’ll be doing any major touring until spring. I’ve been talking to some friends but nothing much is set in stone.
Thanks so much for your time! Do you have anything specific that you want to add and say to our readers?
Thank you for the interview and for the interesting questions. Thank you all for taking time to read this! I very much appreciate the support. Look me up online if you’re into that sort of thing via my website or on Twitter.