Check out this great interview that I got to do with Jamie Reeve (vocals) and Callan Milward (guitar) of UK-based punk/emo band Nathan Detroit!
How did the band originally come together?
Jamie: It was basically Kye (Oxley), Toby (Wrobel), and Elliot (Sykes) used to play together in an old band, and they contacted me to sing for them to fill the vocal role. Callan joined about eighteen months later.
Callan: Yeah it was around that time. Basically, we toured together with my old band and that’s how I got to know the guys, which led to me joining as a lead guitarist. That’s how that came about!
So I’m curious to know what the name Nathan Detroit means. I had originally thought it was just one person, and I was surprised to learn it was a band!
Jamie: We used to get emails addressed “Hey Nathan,”. (laughs)
Callan: The name comes from a couple references, but it’s basically from a Braid song. It’s a track called “The Nathan Detroits”. I think Elliot came up with the idea. It’s also based off of Nathan Detroit, who was a character from Guys & Dolls.
Tell me about the writing process for Peace of Mind. How long did it take for everything to come together?
Jamie: I would say it probably took less time to write the music than it did to write the vocals, I think? I wouldn’t be far wrong in saying that I take a long time to put vocals and melodies down to the songs. Basically what we do is we write the songs within three or four weeks, and I’ll record them on an iPhone. I’ll go away and listen to the songs about a million times a piece. Then I’ll come back to the rehearsal room before we go the studio and we’ll lay it all down before we get there. So it’ll be a really separate exercise for me, which is kind of different for me in the way that I know other bands write. It’s a very, very personal thing for me, the lyric writing process. You sort of put yourself into a lyric writing trance, if you get what I mean.
Callan: In terms of the actual music writing, well, we’re always writing as a band, and we came up with what became the first track for this EP, “The Way Down”, which was the video that we just released. We wrote our song in the summer of last year, but it was only I guess when we got into the studio and started recording that track, that we kind of put Jamie’s vocal on, and same with the other tracks, but it wouldn’t be like we rehearsed the tracks with vocals or anything like that.
Jamie: Yeah, it’s like nobody really gets to peer at the finished product until we record the vocals, which is kind of scary but at the same time, it’s pretty cool because they get to hear all of it on the day we’re in the studio. It’s been quite an interesting process this time around.
Callan: It’s not what we’ve done before, but this is our best stuff to date.
Tell me a little bit about the album artwork, now that we’re on the topic of the EP.
Jamie: I’m going to let Callan take this one. (laughs).
Callan: I did the artwork design for it. There wasn’t really a clear idea going into it. I know I really liked artwork from like the Polar Bear Club album covers. I’ve always really dug those really kind of illustrated designs. I’ve only really considered myself a proper artist for the past year or so. We wanted to make it as organic as possible, so the majority of it is hand drawn. I kind of wanted go for this, like, indulgent, spacey, vibe, but still make it look organic with the way that it’s hand drawn.
The majority of it is me just playing around with ideas. A lot of the time, I absolutely hate my artwork until the final pieces fall into place. That’s how that works out, really. In terms of effort, this is probably the hardest I’ve ever worked on a piece, and it shows in the result.
Where does the title “Peace of Mind” originate from?
Jamie: It kind of just encapsulates the whole theory behind the lyrical content, I would say. It’s the idea of being so wrapped up in everyday life that one day, you get that poignant moment that sticks out for a long time. You go, “things aren’t as bad as they seem.” You can really take homage and some comfort from that feeling that you’re finally at peace with yourself, and equally at peace with everything involved in your life.
I think it comes from track one to track four, that whole journey from being very angsty and very upset about things, to being happy with the ways things are, if you can be. It gives you that sense of gratification and peace of mind, essentially.
The next two questions I ask to every artist that I interview. What kind of message would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
Jamie: That’s a very, very good question. I think that’s kind of tackled by the previous question, in my opinion. The whole idea of this EP, for me personally, was going to be the message that there’s a lot of angry music around, but this was always going to be the realization that there are difficult points in life that will make things very difficult. But at the end of the day, you have to make the best of every situation. Otherwise, you will get yourself locked into emotional and psychological issues. And it doesn’t have to be that way. Just take light of every situation, I suppose, and enjoy it. That would be one of the messages I want to give to people.
Callan: I’d say something similar in terms of the actual content and what people can take away from it is, “Hey, life’s not so bad, just look at the positives that are coming out of it.” I’d also like to think in terms of how songs are written, it’s our proudest work today, and we want to showcase this EP. We put a lot of effort compared to previous releases, and we wanted to kind of make this more defining moment in the career of Nathan Detroit. I think that’s just something that we want to showcase, and make apparent in our new music.
What does music mean to you?
Jamie: Another good one! You go first, Callan.
Callan: For me, since I was at least five years old, my earliest memories of music were jumping around my living room with my Mom, listening to bands like Weezer, Nirvana, and Green Day. Since that point, being so young, like, I don’t think I’ve ever really stopped thinking about music in that extent. All I’ve done is been in bands. I could have been a person where I pursued a proper career. I left school and college. But I’ve been too wrapped up in being in a band and wanting to make something of it, you know? That’s what music means to me: putting a hundred percent into something. It means everything to me, without sounding cheesy. (laughs)
What are the future plans for Nathan Detroit? You have the EP coming out on August 11, but if there are any new tour dates, music videos, etc., let us know!
Callan: We’ve got a tour next month with some good friends of ours in a band called Boston Manor. We’ll be doing a weeks worth of dates with them around the south of England. We’re also going to be playing as many gigs as we can, and hopefully a new video out in the next month.
Jamie: Yeah, we’re doing a video for “Every Heart” on the ninth and tenth of August, which will be coming out roughly two weeks after the recording date. We’re hoping to do a video for another track off of the EP as well, which should be coming out over the next couple of months. Things really, for us, have been better than ever. I just want to say if there’s any way that we can get in a thanks to anyone whose shown us support, the likes of yourself, Jared, who’ve shown appreciation for what we do. Going back to the “what music mean to me” part, music is that release for me that people can all sort of enjoy. Without people like you, we wouldn’t be doing it, so a big thanks to you, a big thanks to everyone whose listened, liked a picture, liked a post, bought something from us, spoke to us at shows, it means everything to us. So a big thank you.
Nathan Detroit's EP "Peace of Mind" is available on August 11.
This has been another Shameless Promotion.