“Now Hear This!” is a great statement I like to make. I find it especially useful when I come across musicians that you normally wouldn’t come across. Just recently I had a group come across my desk that made me stop. From the band name to the song titles I was curious, so naturally I cranked up the volume. Today we feature the musical talents of Charlie and James, The Prophet Nathan.
This interview took a quick dip into memorable due to the quick wit and smart-ass nature of all parties involved. I had some questions, some may be simple and others the hard-hitting questions that belong on CNN, but these guys never let me get them down. Quoting James, “As you know by listening to our music, our message isn’t a typical one. It is for this reason that we are going to take the Zappa approach to our Q&A if that is alright.”
Well it is beyond alright. Here is what I found out.
Furies Magazine: Who does what?
The Prophet Nathan: Charlie manipulates the tension of tightened calf skin in order to produce patterns of noise that alternate between rhythm and chaos. James alters the length of oscillating wound steel for the purpose of amplifying the vibration using a vacuum tube amplification source. He also uses his diaphragm to force air through his larynx, while manipulating pitch and volume as he simultaneously recites slightly sarcastic commentary about everyday idiosyncrasies.
FM: What happened in the beginning?
TPN: The two of us initially intersected by way of the underground music mogul and founder of genre defining acts such as party trash, police academy 6, and clearing, Joe V. (Joe V’s last name is omitted to protect his true identity). We then began playing on a much more consistent basis, eventually leading to the formal creation of The Prophet Nathan. We started out as a completely instrumental and mostly improvised musical act, but have since refocused our energy to create a slightly different live music experience.
FM: Where does the music come from?
TPN: It could be said that the music comes from an idea, caused by a short lifetime made of experiences combined with influences of varying physical and emotional importance.
This inspiration, could possibly cause a chemical reaction in the brain leading to the body’s subsequent physical manifestation of the impulse, by way of force applied to devices created for the production of sound that, may or may not be described as aurally pleasing. This depends largely on the ability of the listening party to relate to the message that is being conveyed in the literal or abstract meaning and/or presentation of the music. In this sense, The Prophet Nathan has been less of a “band” and more of an exploration into the appropriation of occult imagery in privileged urban subcultures.
FM: Any Favorite artist(s)/group(s)?
TPN: It is simply impossible for us to choose a favorite artist or group. Instead we will provide a list of musical influences in reverse alphabetical order.
- Xiu Xiu
- Wu Tang Clan
- Wolves in the Throne Room
*due to the extreme length of this response I will be cutting the bulk of it out. My attention span isn’t what it used to be.
- Aesop Rock
- Above and Beyond
- A Tribe Called Quest
FM: What’s next?
TPN: We are currently in the process of completing our next EP, Secret Teachings, and are planning on releasing that, as well as a split with our favorite Nashville band, Gnarwhal, in 2013. If you haven’t heard of Gnarwhal, do yourself a favor and get your brain annihilated by some of the most interesting and innovative rock music that is being created in Nashville and arguably the world. We are also currently planning a tour this spring/summer in support of the release of these two records.
FM: Any band traditions?
TPN: The Cookie Communion, though rare in its full pomp and circumstance, has become one of our most cherished and beloved traditions. The Cookie Communion brings together the finest baked goods from our local friendly neighborhood Kroger and all of our dear friends. We each consume equal part cookie and music in an unforgettable and sacred ceremony. This ceremony is usually immediately followed by a performance of West Side Story, in which Charlie plays every character except The Sharks, which are played by James, and is set to The Prophet Nathan’s music instead of Soundheim and Bernstein’s. Everyday can be a Cookie Communion as long as you share a cookie with your friends. Please pick up delicious cookies and other baked delights at your local Kroger grocery store. Kroger, its only real competition is Publix anyway.
FM: Most memorable performance?
TPN: THE performance that sticks out in our memory of performances past is, without a doubt, the performance of a simultaneous set with the legendary aforementioned Nashville duo, Gnarwhal.
This particular set was unlike any other in the history of The Prophet Nathan, for not only were we going to perform two cover songs, but we were also going to be playing all of this music with our favorite band, in the same room, at the same time. In fact, when the authorities heard about what was taking place they realized the sheer amount of shred that was going to occur would jeopardize the safety of everyone within a 1.5 mile radius. However, when the police arrived and witnessed the magnificence of the double set they were said to drop to their knees and say things like “this is bringing the world closer together” and “this must be the sounds of the Angles of Murfreesboro” (the myth of the angels of Murfreesboro has since been dismissed and explained as a gas leak that was causing residents of the east side of the city to hallucinate for a period of time spanning from the summer of 2000 until the Winter of 2012). Also, this show really didn’t get shut down before we got to play and we are being super serious. The show actually went on and the cops came inside and we all took part in the cookie communion.
FM: Have you ever smashed or destroyed an instrument on stage? Ever want to?
TPN: Neither of us have ever intentionally destroyed an instrument on stage and do not advocate the public destruction of a musical instrument. It is hard for us to contemplate the destruction of such a personal token for two reasons.
1. Instruments grant us the ability to manifest intangible thoughts into a physical reality, so should therefore be respected and protected by all means,
2. We don’t have enough money to buy another one if we break the one we have.
The destruction of an instrument isn’t a radical act. The creation of an instrument is a radical act.
FM: Who has a tattoo…
TPN: We are both heavily tattooed, however, the majority of our tattoos are covered by our clothing.
BUT because we believe in the entrepreneurial spirit, you can purchase a viewing of our tattoos at one of our shows for the reasonable price of 5$.
I will say The Prophet Nathan is different, but where would your refined musical palate be without different.
Remember the wisdom from The Prophet Nathan, “The destruction of an instrument isn’t a radical act. The creation of an instrument is a radical act.”