As an English musician for 10 years, Nathan Clarke has been a part of several bands, performed solo and even home-recorded, produced and distributed his own albums.
After being with bands that have broken up, Clarke made the decision to make his way through the music world as a solo artist.
“I needed to be out of the band to do my own thing,” Clarke said in an exclusive interview with FanBolt. “It’s only a few months [after the break-up] that you start getting nostalgic and blanking out all of the bad parts. If I were to believe my memory, my first band was like being on a five year holiday of laughs. We’ve since got back together and tried again, but that’s when the real memories come back and two rehearsals later, it’s all over again.”
From those negative experiences, Clarke learned more about him and grew as an artist. One major aspect he recognized is that he cannot be in a band full time.
“I now know what I want to do,” Clarke said. “I went straight off and formed a band when I could only play two guitar chords. So for the first five years, I didn’t know anything else. After the bands breaking up, I realized that there was another way and it was so much easier and enjoyable to just do it myself.”
Clarke finds the best part about being a solo artist is the fact that he normally wins the arguments with himself over song parts and recordings.
“The worst part is that it’s really easy to get lazy,” Clarke said. “I find that I play a lot less live as a solo musician because I’ve got no one else to say ‘Let’s gig.'”
Even though he prefers to write and record solo, Clarke loves playing shows with full bands whenever he has the opportunity.
“Playing for 10 years, I’ve met loads of people that I consider close friends,” Clarke said. “They are musicians so if I have a gig coming up and I want a band I can see who’s available and we do a few rehearsals and then play the gig. It’s a good way to do it because it’s always different. It’s great playing live with different people, no matter what variation of band it is, there is always a good vibe. We only do one or two rehearsals and then a gig, so there is no time to get sick of the songs or each other. I really love it; it’s probably been the best move I ever made.”
Clarke says that he feels relaxed and comfortable playing live shows; he does not do anything special to prepare for them other than practicing with the band, if he uses one.
“If it’s with the band, we’ll have a setlist ready,” Clarke said. “But if I’m on my own, I just have two or three definite [songs] and then play whatever I can remember at the time. Before I gig, I’m normally just with mates having a drink in the bar. Live shows have always been a good night out for me, it’s an opportunity to see friends and have a drink. There’s nothing better than playing to new people and then chatting to them after and hearing that they enjoyed it.”
The musician has not had the opportunity to go on tour, but he has played several shows in England and even performed in Scotland as well. Clarke says that he noticed a difference while on stage in the two countries.
“In Glasgow it seemed like people went looking for live music,” Clarke said. “When we played there, it was always busy with passing trade. That doesn’t happen in London.”
Clarke’s passion for performing live and playing music runs so deep, that he decided to make his music available to his fans for free.
“All I want to do is play live and record music,” Clarke said. “I can try and sell it to people who have no idea who I am, or just give it away. If it’s free, the chances of someone downloading it are much better and all I really want to do is increase my fan base. It just seems like an obvious way to do it.”
Having several albums available to his fans, Clarke says his favorite is the Silver EP. He would best describe the album as getting closer to the sound he is after. Silver was the first time that he used more instruments than just the basic setup.
“There are loads of keys on there, strings and etc.,” Clarke said. “It’s probably the best album to listen to for someone listening to me for the first time, as it’s quite a varied album, in terms of song styles. I wrote Silver after the break up of my second band Tolivar. Silver was recorded at home. The versions on the EP are about the third or fourth recordings because I kept wiping them by accident. I did all the music at home and the vocals I recorded sitting in my car, it was the quietest place I could find.”
This year, Clarke plans on releasing a new album as well as writing and recording a lot more music.
“I am now recording the Dead Models album,” Clarke said. “I’m also going to start trying to get some videos made to help promote the releases.”
Interview by: Kim Gallagher