Thursday, October 22, 2009

Drummers of Next Big Nashville: Nathaniel Shelton of The Worsties

I first saw the Worsties at the Red Gorilla Festival (happens at the same time SXSW does in Austin, TX). I was also playing Red Gorilla with Meshach Jackson and we had decided to go out that night after we played and catch some bands. We happened to walk into a small venue and lo and behold, some fellow Nashvillians were tearing the stage up...I stayed for the whole show, which says alot considering what all else was going on that evening. The energy and pace of the show was great. I immediately talked to them after the set and said we needed to set a show up with them and my band, Lovers and Liars...

Fast foward a few months and we were both on the same bill with Marcy's Playground in Clarksville, TN. Again, they had a stellar performance. And to boot, these are some of the nicest guys (and gal) that you'd ever want to meet. You can grab their new cd "Dude, Dude, Dude, Totally!" here.

How long have The Worsties been around, how long have you been with them, and how did you get the gig?

The Worsties have been a working band for about 4 years now. I joined the band around 2 years ago. I'm the first permanent drummer for the band. Before we hooked up, they used a drum machine and had more of an electronic vibe. In the process of becoming more of a rock band, they had a few hired guns and friends filling in. Then we met and we're a family now.

What's your background with the drums?

My father was a very talented and accomplished drummer. At a very young age, he showed me how to hold the sticks and turned me on to some great music... mostly soul music from the 60's, which I still love! We've talked a lot about the philosophy of drumming, and I've heard lots of great stories about his drumming career. I consider those things to be my most valuable lessons. I took proper piano lessons for several years when I was younger, but I'm a mostly self-taught drummer. Concerning the technical aspects of drumming, I've learned that through my own playing experience, studying other drummers, reading every piece of drumming literature I can get my hands on, and listening to all kinds of music.

Traditional or Matched grip?

I can play both. It really just depends on the situation, style, or feeling of the music. I think it's important for drummers to understand both grips and learn both. With the Worsties, I always play matched grip to get more power and projection. It is also useful because I do a lot of big double crashes in most of our songs and it helps me reach the cymbals.

Favorite drummer?

My favorite drummers are some of the most influential jazz drummers who ever lived... Tony Williams, Joe Morello, Max Roach, Elvin Jones, and Buddy Rich. There are so many more, but that's my "big 5". The rock drummers that influence my playing with the Worsties are Bill Stevenson, Jimmy Chamberlain, William Goldsmith, Joey Castillo, and Chris Pennie. I'm a huge fan of Brian Blade... he's my favorite drummer on the scene today.

Favorite band?

I have so many, because I love so many styles of music... but one that I never tire of is The Descendents. As a kid, they were one of the first rock bands I was ever into. So their music is nostalgic to me and always a fun listen.

Do you have a consistent practice time outside of rehearsals?

I practice every day no matter what... I can't sleep if I don't play! I usually practice jazz coordination exercises from all of the classic workbooks that my heros learned from. I am particularly fond of "Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer" by Jim Chapin... I've spent so much time with that book that I dream about it sometimes! Also, "Master Studies" by Joe Morello, and "The New Breed" by Gary Chester. When I feel like I've hit a wall, I improvise on the drumset, play along with cds, or shed rudiments on the pad. When I'm not playing, I am always listening to music and I read Modern Drummer Magazine religiously.

Do you have any other projects that you're involved with at this time?

I'm a full-time Worstie! But I love jamming and recording with my friends whenever possible.

Do you have any endorsements?

I have no endorsements, but I do have brand loyalties. With the Worsties I always play Tama drums and Tama hardware, Zildjian cymbals, Evans heads, and Vater sticks. I also have a small collection of vintage Slingerlands and Ludwigs from the 60's and 70's.

Do you have a day job?

I do have a day job. I enjoy working and I love to stay busy. But in some ways it's just a means to an end. The advantage is that it allows me to pursue music simply because it allows me to pay bills, eat, and have a place to sleep. The main disadvantage would be that it takes time away from doing what I'm truly passionate about, which is making music.

Is your band signed?

We are not signed, though we have had quite a bit of interest from labels, both major and indie. For the Worsties, the advantage of being an unsigned band is being able to do things on our own terms, develop our own style, release songs when and how we want to, play when and where we want to, etc. The disadvantage is having to do all to footwork ourselves -which isn't easy- but it's a job we all love to do. This is our baby, and it's going to take a very special parent to come along for us to consider giving it up for adoption! When the right opportunity comes along, we will take it. I see that in our future.

When you're on the road, what do you travel in?

Jairo usually takes his private jet. I prefer to drive, though. For long trips, we usually rent a big van. For closer regional shows, we take one or two of our own cars. Whatevs. As long as we all get there!

Best part about being on tour?

Making music together, partying, making new friends, seeing great bands, and playing Mad Libs in the van! Jairo, Jesse, and Anna are some of my best friends, and a lot of that is due to the time we've spent together on the road.

Worst part about being on tour?

There is no worst part! I even love the annoying parts.

What is your band doing to think outside of the box when it comes to attracting new fans?

We are fairly traditional when it comes to the way the band makes new fans. We take full advantage of all internet resources, of course (MySpace, FaceBook, iTunes, etc.). But mostly, we just try to stay productive, write new songs, and when we play live we PLAY OUR A%@$# OFF!!! Most of our fans have been made at our live shows. It may not be "outside the box", but that's how we do it. Like they say... the proof is in the pudding!

What sets your live show apart from others?

The only way I can describe it is that it is a party on the stage. We always strive to put on the most high-energy show we possibly can. It can be wild and unpredictable at times. But we have a great time performing and we want the crowd to have a great time, too. When you go to a Worsties show... it is really a SHOW. See us live and there will be dancing and debauchery... this is a given.

What's the biggest challenge you face as a band?

The most challenging thing for us now is that we all have day jobs... bummer.

With the major labels struggling, do you feel it's more important for a band to focus on getting signed or focus on getting a significant buzz within a given group of people?

To me, there's really no difference. It's all about what you do with it once you get there. Keep playing and play the best you can. As long as you give it your all and stay true to yourself, then you will be able to enjoy any successes that may come your way. If you really have what it takes, you will be noticed.

Future Plans?

My future plans are to create as much music as possible, have fun adventures, and always work toward mastering my instrument. Music is a lifelong pursuit for me. I will go wherever it takes me.

How much does chance play a part in the success of your band and how much of the success comes from sheer blood, sweat, and tears?

I often compare "making it in the music biz" to winning the lottery. I do believe a lot of it is right place, right time. However, I think you can also put yourself in the right place at the right time. We do live in Music City, after all. I believe the blood, sweat, and tears are necessary to develop a healthy perspective, but sadly not always required in the world of pop. Those who have gotten lucky without earning it usually sparkle and fade. The Worsties are hands down the hardest working band I've ever met, so we're here to stay.

If you had a fifteen year old sitting in front of you and could tell him/her anything about the music business, being in a band, or drumming, what would it be?


Quote that you live by?

"Have fun, stay young!"


Jesse Worsty said...

'Atta boy! Great article. Thanks!

Stephen said...

Appreciate you guys and what you do...

Post a Comment