Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
DateOctober 12, 2019 / Saturday
Doors Open6:30 PM
Start Time8:00 PM
Ticket Prices$65.00/$69.50/$99.50 (ADVANCE) $70.00/$74.50/$104.50 (DAY OF SHOW)
VenueThe Capitol Theatre
Port Chester, NY
On SaleOn Sale Now
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
For a long time I always had to go off on my own,” says Nathaniel Rateliff of his creative process. “For the first Night Sweats record, I demo’ed everything up and created most of the parts. But for this new record, I felt like we’d all spent so much time on the road that we should all go off somewhere together. We should have that experience together. I wanted the guys to feel like they were giving something to the project beyond just playing.”
In other words, the Missouri-bred, Denver-based frontman wanted to make the band disappear along with him—out in the middle of the desert at first, and then deep in the woods. The result is the aptly titled Tearing at the Seams, a vivacious and inventive full-band record, with significant contributions from all eight members of The Night Sweats. These songs are grounded in old-school soul and r&b but are far too urgent for the retro or revivalist tag. There are familiar elements of soul and garage rock, but also jazz and folk and even country: the crackling energy on opener “Shoe Boot,” the cathartic sing-along of “Coolin’ Out,” the melancholy folk of the closing title track. “The future of this band is to take everything we’ve ever done in the past and just do it with our own little twist,” says Rateliff. “I hear that in my favorite bands. They just sucked everything up.”
Like his heroes, Rateliff has always been an omnivorous listener and player. Growing up in Hermann, Missouri, a small town with a booming tourism industry as well as a rampant meth epidemic, he started his music career playing in his family’s band at church, but that came to a tragic end when his father was killed in a car accident. Music became an obsession for him and his friends. “We would walk around these deserted country roads and talk about music all the time, how it can change the world and how it could change our world,” recalls Night Sweats bassist Joseph Pope III. “Music was what we thought would save us.”
In 1998 Pope and Rateliff moved to Denver where they worked nightshifts at a bottle factory and a trucking company while testing out their songs at open-mic nights. Their first band, Born in the Flood, attracted some major-label interest, but the pair had moved on by then, gravitating from heavy rock toward a folksier sound. Rateliff released an album on Rounder Records with a backing band called The Wheel, but despite the critical success of that and subsequent albums, he was still trying to find the right sound, the right outlet for what he needed to say.
A set of rough demos recorded in the early 2010s and based on old Stax and Motown records pointed Rateliff in a new direction. “That old soul stuff meant a lot to him when we were young,” says Pope. “Of all the projects we had done and all the different genres we had played, this was the most natural thing I’d heard him do. It sounded like it came from a really deep place in him, but it took this really meandering path to come through.”
Those demos eventually developed into the band’s 2015 self-titled debut, which became a massive hit and pushed them out on the road for two long years. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats blasted their way through hundreds of shows in North America, England, Ireland, and Australia, and they played Coachella, Farm Aid, Newport Folk Festival, and the Monterey Pop Festival’s 50th Anniversary. The crowds grew larger with every show and The Night Sweats grew tighter and more vigorous.
In May 2017, they brought that same boundless energy to the opens plains and prickly cacti of Rodeo, New Mexico, where the entire band disappeared for a week to write songs for their follow-up. “We just did what we like to do best,” says Rateliff, “which is hang out and be a family.” They recorded a number of demos, some complete songs and others fragments or just ideas, but all were anchored by the preternaturally tight rhythm section of Pope and drummer Patrick Meese, then buoyed by the rambunctious keyboard runs from Mark Shusterman and the textural guitar riffs of Luke Mossman.
It was a sunny setting for emotionally overcast music. Together, The Night Sweats created a set of songs that comprise both an r&b party record and deeply personal confessional from Rateliff, who penned all the lyrics. The album recounts moments in the last few years of his life, some good and others not so much. “I remember finishing one song and just losing my shit and breaking down. These songs are so personal, but not everyone will get that. I get to leave little secrets in there for myself, so that everybody else gets to have their own individual interpretations of the songs.”
From New Mexico, The Night Sweats headed north to rural Oregon, specifically to the home studio of producer Richard Swift, who has helmed records for The Shins and Foxygen in addition to The Night Sweats’ debut. “He’s like a brother to me,” says Rateliff. “We hit it off during the last record. I feel like I get what Richard’s trying to do and he gets me. And his studio doesn’t really feel like a studio. It’s in this little building behind his house. That’s why I like it so much.”
In that tiny space The Night Sweats jammed hard, building off the demos they’d recorded in Rodeo. Often Swift would get dynamic takes without the band realizing he was even recording, which creates a loose, live sound on Tearing at the Seams. “Sometimes it just takes time for songs to reveal themselves to you,” says Rateliff. “You try not to get in the way of the songs and just let them be what they need to be or what everybody understands them to be.”
That’s how “Hey Mama” evolved from an acoustic guitar riff Rateliff devised in one of hundreds of green rooms the band has occupied pre-show into one of the catchiest songs on the album. He admits he wasn’t satisfied with his first stab at lyrics and melody, but “everybody in the band would walk around singing that melody and I’m like, Goddammit! I have to write a new melody! But if everybody’s singing it, it must be okay.”
The band took several cracks at “Intro,” a showstopper that opens the second side with a pretzel horn riff courtesy of tenor saxophonist Andreas Wild and trumpeter Scott Frock. A few measures later, Jeff Dazey unfurls a blazing alto sax solo. “We played that song live for a while,” says Rateliff. “It was a jam we came up with before we were really a band. We tried to record it so many different times in so many different places, but it never turned out the way we wanted it to sound. Finally, we just put it together at Richard’s one night. It was a drunken mess, but we got it.”
The album shows The Night Sweats tearing at their own seams, at their own sturdy sound, at their long-held definitions of friend and family and band. It’s an album that builds on the sound of their debut but dramatically redefines what they can do and where they can go next. Says Rateliff, “I want—and I need—everybody to feel like they’re a part of this band. I want them to feel like they’re contributing artistically and emotionally to the experience of writing and creating this music. We’ve all had to make sacrifices to be in The Night Sweats, and I want them all to know that it’s worth something.”
Texas’ genre-bending rock ‘n’ roller Israel Nash presents his latest long play, Lifted. It is a modern day hippie-spiritual, a tonic for those needing to put aside the mess of the daily grind. With luscious beds of strings, horns and well adorned towering walls of sound, Lifted finds Nash continuing his tradition of creating a sonic experience of feeling that is at once both vast and intimate - soaring and untamed at times, placid and sincerely personal at others.
Originally from the Ozarks of Missouri, Israel Nash has made his home in Dripping Springs, Texas for the greater part of a decade. There, on his ranch with sweeping views of the Texas Hill Country, the tall, hirsute mountain man
built his own studio; a Quonset hut structure he’s dubbed Plum Creek Sound. The studio became a sanctuary, a creative outlet where Nash reached a meditative state of escapism, which ultimately became the inspiration behind Lifted. The creative process of writing, recording and producing Lifted allowed Nash to leave his own downhearted feelings about the political landscape of the recent elections and the deeper queries of purpose and life that supersede the material world. Nash wrote and recorded Lifted with the intention of achieving a sonic experience that will elevate the listener - that the feeling of peace, love and happiness which saturates the words and music can provide the same escape he achieved while creating the LP.
Being able to finally use Plum Creek Sound to its utmost, Nash incorporated found sounds and field recordings from his Texas ranch to create a setting of the sounds that represent his Hill Country life. Drums played in rain collection tanks, water rushing against the limestone, frogs and crickets in their habitats, and even a curious, yet guarded rattlesnake, all appear throughout the record. Inspired by methods pioneered by John Cage, Nash also randomized sounds and music and rearranged them according to the I Ching (The Book of Changes). Utilizing these recording and tracking techniques help create a sonic and very present picture of Nash’s home and his life. Accompanied by his longtime band, with arrangements by Jesse Chandler (Mercury Rev, Midlake), horns by members of Austin’s cumbia/funk compadre’s Grupo Fantasma, and strings from Kelsey Wilson and Sadie Wolf of indie pop’s Wild Child, Nash, alongside co- producer and engineer Ted Young (Kurt Vile, The Rolling Stones), presents an album that soars as a masterwork of American roots songs, meticulously crafted and gently sprinkled with life meaning and multi-hued rock and psychedelia.
“It’s all about finding, searching for little sparks of inspiration. It may be a sound, a groove, a color, or even an object. Old things are inspiring. Whatever it is, when you find it, it spreads like a conflagration that is out of your control. It doesn’t matter if you’re making a record or living your life, find these inspirations with a vigil eye and watch them change both you and your world.”
Lifted opens with an extended instrumental introduction, preparing the listener to get comfortable and settle in for the journey ahead, before blossoming into “Rolling On.” It’s a manifesto, a hearty breath of rock goodness, clean air for all that follows. A sing-along anthem of urgency, encouraging one to let go of yesterday and spring from the traps of worry in order to move onward and upward - rolling on, right here and right now.
“It was a simple message to myself, to not get stuck in thinking and the past. It’s too easy for us to worry about pretty much everything. I had been down and low for a bit and really had to sing and write those feelings away, give them to the moment and find a better self in the end.”
What follows is an Americana-bred opus without equal. From the familial harmonies of “Sweet Springs,” recalling the Beach Boys at their most joyous (almost all performed by Nash himself), to the country rock riffage of “Lucky Ones” and “SpiritFalls” conjuring up that much needed healing, to the album ending “Golden Fleeces,” a sunshine laden song offering up sweet relief from those troubles and tying the preceding up with a sense of lightness and much needed joy.
By immersing oneself in Lifted, one can see Nash succeeds in a way that’s exquisite yet spiritually satisfying. Nash welcomes you to join him on his uplifting path - one he’s taken throughout his career, now continuing on a higher, imaginative plane. May your ears be blessed and may your soul be lifted.