Next of Kin’s Nate Bass: Lead Vocalist and Drummer of Next of Kin
Jessica Gilbert: Nate, it’s great to have you here. 🙂 I’m thankful to Carey Ann for connecting us; I instantly loved your music. Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to do an interview for TSM.
Nate Bass: Hi there Jessica, thanks so much for taking time to interview us, and thanks to Carey Ann for hooking us up 🙂 It’s all good…thanks a lot for listening to our music; it means a lot to me and the boys.
Jessica Gilbert: Tell us a little about your music background and the formation of Next of Kin.
Nate Bass: HAHA have you got a million light years 🙂 I’ll try and cut it down. It all started when we were tiny children. Mark (middle brother) wanted a guitar, as he saw Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler on the TV one day, and thought the colour of the guitar was edible haha – you know like candy. Anyway, our father the next day went out and bought a cheap copy as he thought it might have been a fad. He said to Mark, “if you can learn to play “Brothers In Arms” by Dire Straits, I’ll get you that real fender Stratocaster that Mark Knopfler plays. Well, sure enough that day Mark learnt the song, and when dad came home he played it note for note. My parents were in shock, they didn’t know how he did it, he just did. Dad had to buy him that Stratocaster haha. From there my parents took him for guitar lessons, in which two months later at the age of eleven years old, entered him into the Guitarist of the Year in Wembley London – 6000 hopefuls entered. Long story short – Mark won the whole thing. He received a Hank Marvin Stratocaster that got stolen back stage, but that’s another story 🙂
From there I knew I had to get me an instrument, so I chose the drums, starting out on pillows and cushions for awhile, and thankfully to my parents they bought me my first drum kit. I wasn’t as prodigal as Mark on the guitar as I had to work damn hard to keep up with him, but that’s a good thing. Then we started a Joe Satriani tribute band. and toured the UK. People came in droves to watch this eleven year old kid shredding like Satriani. I was on the drums, we had Guthrie Govan on bass, and Clive Carroll on additional guitars. It was a great learning curve for us; it taught us a lot very quickly as we really did throw ourselves in the deep end of musical learning. At this time our younger brother was just coming out of nappies haha. He was very young, and wanted to get involved so he picked bass and learnt very quickly as Mark taught him a lot of tricks.
Through this we got introduced at a music shop in England, where we met a manager who couldn’t believe his luck when he found three brothers that play together. I remember he asked us, “do any of you sing” and we replied, ” No singing’s for girls” haha. He said, well if you want to be famous you need to sing. Same thing again really; we needed to do it, so we did it and never over thought it, and never went to vocal coaching. We just listened to famous singers and copied them until we turned it into our thing.
We cut three demos with a producer, did a photo shoot and a promo video. Within three weeks we had fourteen major labels wanting to sign us; it was quite incredible to have so much attention. We signed to Universal Records in 1999, who pushed us in to the big wide world. Within weeks of gigging and promoting our single “24 Hours From You,” we had 100,000 fans in the UK and a single that reached thirteen in the UK charts – against the likes of Robbie Williams, Cher, Madonna, Britney Spears. It was a tough week, but we did well for a breaking act. We toured Asia, Europe and England, all the major stadiums and TV shows. The band was on its way, until due to difficulties within the label and its merger. I really don’t want to get into details here as its very complicated, but due to bad management he walked away with everything and left us for dead. My parents lost there home and we had fame, but no security – it was a very scary time in our lives. Ten years have passed and I have some amazing stories of what came through the years. You would not believe me if I told you, but we see this as a huge learning curve and will not fall victim to this again. We will keep on pushing, as this story is so much bigger than this but its for another interview 🙂
As Facebook gave me the chance to meet you through Carey Ann as I like to make friends on Facebook. In the same way, I met a world class producer by the name Steve Dorff. I sent him our music and he took to it straight away. We spoke on the phone and just got the ball rolling. We have been real busy recording with Steve Dorff, and getting fresh new tracks ready to make an album so I’ll keep you posted.
Jessica Gilbert: What inspired you to get into music? Is this something you always wanted to do? And at what age did you start playing the drums?
Nate Bass: Haha, sorry I jumped the gun in the first question. As I said, it was Mark picking that guitar up that got us all into the music – one thing lead to another, and before you know it playing music for a living. It’s a weird one really; as soon as I could play drums, I always wanted to be a session player for Celine Dion – Don’t ask me why haha. That’s what I was listening to when I was learning to take in all the production from the likes of David Foster and Humberto Gatica. Most drummers listen to Metallica or Pearl Jam, which I did too, but I liked the soulfulness of slicker produced music. I started playing drums at fourteen years old – I’m twenty nine now. I’m no Thomas Lang, but I know what suits the song and I play for the song not for my self indulgence. As young kids our parents listened to a lot of Fleetwood Mac, Michael Bolton, Hal Ketchum, U2, Tears For Fears – it’s all engrained in our brains haha.
Jessica Gilbert: What’s your process for writing lyrics? And where do you get the inspiration for your songs?
Nate Bass: Well, a lot of people find it strange, but it’s a family thing – me and the boys make the music and the melodies, record them down and then we take it to our mother who is a fantastic lyricist. We all sit round and talk jibberish, and Mum makes lyrical sense out of it. So, we get a concept like a new track we have recently wrote, called “Little White Lies. Kieran, the youngest brother is one with the ladies haha, and he can get in to trouble with them. 😉 So, he thought he would write a lyric little white lie that’s what gets me by, and we built on it from there. So, it’s all about when you use little white lies to get you by and wish you could start it all over again. Lyrics are not our strongest point, but can’t be great at everything – we try our best.
Jessica Gilbert: I know that you played on the Smash Hits tour in 1988 and supported Boyzone on their UK tour in 1999. What was this experience like?
Nate Bass: As Mentioned, we were very young – given the chance now, we would give it all we got, but when you’re young you don’t realize what it’s all about. You think it will always be there, but what I can remember was it was quite mind blowing to be playing 140,000 people in front of you. It’s when they all bounce to your beat for me that’s quite something, to know that I’m in control of all these people bopping up and down haha.
It was quite an intense work schedule and I don’t think we ever slept. I remember we did get very ill and we were all throwing up backstage at Top of the Pops. Before going on to play live we were so tired it made us sick – not good, I don’t miss that 🙂
All the acts at the time who were on the road with us was a very special time. We were hanging out with Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Backstreet Boys. Just playing a gig and then all messing around backstage – it was quite surreal. When I think back to it now, cool times in a sad way.
Jessica Gilbert: In 2009, your song “Transform” became the theme for the UK Transformers Convention Auto Assembly where you performed live. How did this come about?
Nate Bass: Well, we were in Germany making a heavy metal album for BMG Records in 2007 – the label let us do everything we wanted to do and it was an amazing experience to make music with no outside input and get funding for it haha. We thought it would be cool to make a song for the Transformers movie for the following year – in the end the label folded and the album was just a waist…so it’s a concept album that just sits there. The Transformers Convention came about when we put the ‘Transform” track on YouTube, and the organizers heard the track and asked us if they could use the track as their anthem track – it was pretty cool to get asked. So we played it, and two hours of transformer soundtrack score music for them – we loved it, they loved it…its a geeky thing…all good fun.
Jessica Gilbert: Who are some musicians you admire and look up to?
Nate Bass: Warren Wiebe, Steve Dorff, Bill Champlin, Jorn Lande, David Foster, Benny Greb. John Mayer, Dream Theater, Micheal Sembello, Porcupine Tree, Harem Scarem, Mark Free, Go West, Gary Stevenson, Johnny Douglas and Kipper Eldridge. There really are so many artists and they all have a big role in the development in who we are as players and singers today.
Jessica Gilbert: If you had the power to do something in the world today, what would it be and why?
Nate Bass: Wow, deep question 🙂 Probably stop natural disasters from happening, as they kill and ruin so many peoples lives – the rivers in the Mississippi at the moment are horrendous. I can’t imagine that and must be horrible. My heart goes out to everyone who has to deal with that stuff.
Jessica Gilbert: What is one of your favorite quotes (or lines) that inspires you?
Nate Bass: “Trust can be fixed like a mirror, but once its broken you will always see the cracks.” I heard this the other day and thought it was a nice saying. I don’t really have any lines, I need to get some now haha.
Jessica Gilbert: Anything else you’d like to share? And where can our readers find out more about you and your music?
Nate Bass: We are in the middle of making an album with some big producers in LA, so I can’t tell you much at this moment. I will keep you posted on the upcoming events, but if anyone one wants to hear our music go to http://www.reverbnation.com/mnk3 Our heavy German album is on there, tracks we did in Nashville, demos and all that stuff.
Jessica Gilbert: Thanks again for doing an interview for TSM and wish you the best of luck with all you do in the future.
Nate Bass: Thank you Jessica for giving us this opportunity. Hope to do this again real soon and thank you for your support, much appreciated. Rock on. Nate xxxx