The McEuen Sessions: Part 2

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 14:11

An Interview with Nathan McEuen

by: Casey Pukl 

Yesterday, we got to see what working with Nathan & Jonathan McEuen was like for their father, John. Today, in part 2 of the McEuen Sessions, we’re talking to Nathan McEuen about working with his father and brother, and just how he’s sold 30,000 records out of the back of his car!

CP: Tell me what it’s been like working on this latest record and touring with your dad!

NM: Well, the record really came together a lot better than I ever could’ve imagined. Once we knew what we wanted to do, it was like working with the best people in the studio that I ever could’ve imagined. We’ve been playing music together as a family for over twenty years. It just seems normal after a while. That’s just what we do. There are ups and downs with it, but it’s really easy for me to let go of the low parts and just focus on the really positive stuff.

CP: Has it been interesting to see everyone’s musical influences come together?

NM: Well, we come from a similar place, but we definitely had different influences growing up. If I remember correctly, Jonathan was more into Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, learned all the Beatles songs that he could when he started playing, that whole thing. My dad was more into Earl Scruggs and The Dillards. I was more into Green Day, Nirvana, and more alternative grunge style groups. We’ve all played on so many different styles of records and played with so many bands, that when we all get together, it seems like we form this very eclectic but new sounding thing. We call it Americana, but it encompasses a lot of different styles like country, bluegrass, folk, and it makes for a really great show.

CP: I know you’ve been doing your own thing for a while now musically speaking, can you give our readers a little background on what your career has involved?

NM: In 2003, I moved to California and started my own record label. I started writing songs and getting together with other songwriters, some of them sons of other rock stars, that kind of thing, and I found myself in a really cool musical melting pot. Then in 2005, I finally had enough to start my own solo label with my own CDs, and I’ve released four albums now. That’s led me from something that started out as a hobby to something that became a real job. After the first album, I ended up having to fortunately keep making the rounds. People wanted me to come back, and so I started on the second album and so on. It’s been cool— I’ve got my own life and my own thing. I’ve been on the road for five years promoting it now, and really for the last three I haven’t had a place to live on purpose. Last year alone I lived in 7 different states for at least a month. It worked out to tour the state and regions. It’s great to just be free on the road, and it naturally evolved into me landing in Atlanta and finding this really beautiful studio and saying, “Hey Dad, Jon, it’s about time to record, right?” That was about 2010. On my own, at this point I think I’ve sold about 30,000 CDs out of the back of my car from festivals to bars, house concerts. It has really been a wonderful adventure. It has progressed quite nicely.

CP: It’s so fascinating to me to talk to your father and now to you about your careers and working together. I still find it hard to believe that your entire family is so musical and talented.

NM: Thank you! I’m glad that you appreciate that!

CP: I think it’s so entertaining just because I’m a musician, yet my family couldn’t be less musical if they tried (laughs)! It’s so weird to me that other people get to play with their families! It looks like so much fun.

NM: It’s very cool. We just love each other so much, and I think sometimes we’re afraid to admit it, but it really comes through in the music I think.

CP: Do you all write songs together often?

NM: I haven’t written too many things with my family. Jonathan and I have one song on this record that we wrote together, but for the most part he brought in his own, I brought in mine, and we just backed each other up on it. It’s really cool.

CP: What’s your songwriting process generally look like?

NM: It originally starts with something real to write about it. That really took a while. When I first started writing, I was 8. Then my next song wasn’t until I was like 15. I think I needed a little bit more life experience to write about. Basically, it evolved into me writing lines down. I’ll keep them in piles and go back to them later. If I come up with a melody here and there, I’ll record it in Garageband and go back to it later. Sometimes a song will come out, and it’ll be done within an hour. It all depends. For me, all forms of inspiration are all just forms of getting there. Sometimes it takes twenty minutes, and sometimes it takes two years. Sometimes it takes more than one songwriter to help me. I’ll have an idea and I’ll be happy with the idea, but I need help with the lyrics. So then I’ll bring in a lyricist. I like to collaborate. I do whatever I can to get a song out that will strike a chord with somebody. It’s starting to get a lot easier.

CP: What are you most looking forward to about coming out to San Diego and playing here at Anthology?

NM: I haven’t been to San Diego in a while, and I love it there! Last time I was there, I played at a little place downtown across from the convention center. I’m so excited about playing this time. I’ve heard so much about this venue from my dad and other artist friends I have who’ve played there, so I’m excited about that. I’m excited to see some friends, see the banjo manufacturer. I haven’t been to California in about two months, and San Diego in about a year. I don’t know what to expect other than I hope we have a lot of fun!

Thanks for checking out part 2 of The McEuen interviews! Be sure to stay tuned to part 3— more with John McEuen! In the mean time, keep yourself busy with this Spotify link!

The McEuen Sessions on Spotify

WHAT: John McEuen & Sons Nathan and Jonathan
WHEN: Sunday, April 29, 7:00 pm
TICKETS: $10-$29 Buy Tickets
MORE INFO: Artist Profile