Nathan Lawr Keeps it Simple
The bands that former Torontonian Nathan Lawr (he's relocated to Sudbury) has kept time for is a virtual who's who of the TO roots/alt-country scene, including the late, lamented Royal City and Fembots.
This might overshadow the fact that Lawr has released three albums, the most recent is A Sea of Tiny Lights, and is a talented singer and songwriter is his own right. He's returning to Toronto to play a CD release party at Supermarket on October 18.
Q: Tell blogTO's readers a bit about yourself.
NL: I play music and that's about as specific as I could possibly get.
I've been writing songs for about 10 years and I put out my first record, I guess, five years ago so it's not exactly a new thing but, I don't know, sometimes you can't control it. Art takes a hold of you and it forces your hand to obey.
Q: After playing in band for so long, what was striking out on your own like?
NL: It wasn't that much different actually, except I had to be the impetus rather than just be a long for the ride. But everything else is basically the same!
If I have the urge to write a song, I'll write it. If I feel the urge to put a band together and play I'll just do that.
It probably was a bigger deal when I first started but that was a while ago.
Q: What was working with Andy Magoffin like?
NL: Great. Andy's a funny guy and he's got ideas. It's hard to pin an experience like that down to a couple words but he's a special person.
Q: What was the experience of switching from being behind the drum kit to being the frontman like?
NL: I like to think if you're musicians, the basics are always the same no matter what position you're in but obviously playing drums versus singing is fairly significantly different in the sense that as drummer you're just playing beats.
You don't have to worry about stage banter when you're a drummer unless you're Dave Clark from The Rheostatics.
I don't know, it's just different. I would imagine it's fairly self-explanatory how different the two worlds are.
Q: Why did you write songs about Jim Loney and Gus Van Sant's Elephant on the new album?
NL: Jim's story really struck a chord with me because it sort of encapsulated what war is, why it happens and what people need to do avoid it and Jim's attitude was very much tolerance and love and patience and understanding and he was committed to that, even if it meant the end of his own life, even if it meant being held as a captive for who knows how long.
Someone being so committed to an ideal like that really touched me profoundly.
I really see Van Sant as a empathizer. A lot of his movies, he tries to really empathize with the position of the people who are in the stories he's telling.
Especially with Elephant, I really felt like he achieved a perspective on that story that no newscast or newspaper had ever done, and that was to really try to empathize with the kids who were in the school when that horrible event happened, he really tried to see it from their perspective and it's something that I hadn't seen anyone else try to do.
Q: What's relocating from Toronto to Sudbury been like?
NL: It's been great. I have to talk about that for lots of reasons but the thing I always say is where ever you live, there are pros and cons. Toronto's pros are there's lots of cool, exciting stuff going on all the time.
It's cons are, basically, the same thing! (Laughs) You can never get away from that crazy action. It's always just back in the background and after a while, for myself, I just found it overwhelming and Sudbury I can just feel myself think a little.
That's one of the reasons I wanted to move to Sudbury, because I wanted to live in a house and we (girlfriend Kate Maki) can't afford to dream about living in a house in Toronto it's just too outrageous.
Q: The new album has a more expansive sound and you've embraced more genres, what influenced that decision?
NL: I don't know if it was necessarily I woke up in the morning (and said), "I must do this!" More just like your ideas for things evolve and you're like, "I want to try this! 'Cause I never tried that before!" More like that it's just like and adventurous thing, I'd rather not write the same song again and again.
I listen to a lot of music and I love a lot of music so it just sort of happens in a way, I just sort of guide it very gently. I try and let it happen with a little bit of pushing here and there.
Q: What do you have planned for the show at Supermarket on the 18th?
NL: Well, it's gonna be an awesome show!
Andy Swan's going to be playing, he's gonna do a set and he's got a new record out that's really cool.
Kate Maki and her band are going to play. She has a new record coming out produced by Howe Gelb, that's a pretty cool record.
For my band it's going to be the five-piece then the horn section and Anne Bourne the cellist that's going to sit in with us and help perform.
So, it should be pretty fun!
Q: What does the future hold for you?
NL: Oh, lord only knows. What's the funniest joke you can tell god? "I have a plan!"
That's what the future holds for me!
I'm going to try and get my music out there and the rest is out of my hands pretty much.
Nathan Lawr & The Minotaurs with Andy Swan ad Kate Maki
Thursday October 18th, 9 pm
268 Augusta Ave.
Cover is TBA
Image from Nathan Lawr's MySpace
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