Nate Nelson of White Violet Talks Time Spent at the 40 Watt Club and Touring with “Moby” and “Pri-Pri”

August 30, 2016

Tell us about your tour vehicle. Any notable breakdown stories?

As of 2 months ago, we’re touring in my Prius. Adorably dubbed, “Pri-Pri”, by Brad. Before that we toured in the standard Ford E-350 15-passenger band van. Named, “Moby”, because it was a big white whale. But now that we’re doing all of our touring as a 2-piece, we are happily cramming ourselves into my Prius (Pri-Pri) and saving about 75% in gas!

A couple years ago Moby’s starter died on us one morning in Harrisonburg, VA, 6 hours away from our show in Brooklyn that night. After a few failed attempts at fixing it ourselves, bribing a mechanic, driving through a monsoon-type rain, and numerous waves of depression and anxiety; we made it to our show just in time to play a 30 minute set!

How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?

Brad and I love coffee and Vietnamese food, and we’re constantly searching for both of those in every city we play in or drive through. Other than that, we hope the club has food or gives us a buy out.

How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?

Brad and I both use really heavy string gauges and, as you probably gathered by hearing our music, we don’t play incredibly hard. So with those two things, we’re able save some money! Also, I really don’t like the sound of brand new strings on my guitars, so I probably change them twice a year.

Where do you rehearse?

We have a couple of different rehearsal spaces, because we’ve lived in different cities for the last few years. Though, the one in Athens, GA is our favorite. It used to be my studio before I moved to Nashville, and it sounds really great in there. It’s a beautiful windowless room with wooden floors and 13 foot tall ceilings. I have some serious emotional attachment to that room, because it’s where I wrote the songs that turned into the first White Violet record, Hiding, Mingling. In that phase of my life I was writing and recording all through the night and slept most of the day. It was not the happiest part of my life, but there was no shortage of inspiration and that room facilitated it all.

What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?

I wrote my first song when I was 12 or 13, and it was called, “Hypocrite.” At this point I’m not sure what hypocrisy or group of people I was referring to when I wrote it. It was just preteen’s first attempt at a punk rock song…

Describe your first gig.

My first gig was playing my older sister’s 15th birthday party. My band at the time, Anthem, played in the corner of the room. We made sure to make the stage “look cool” by putting streamers all over our gear and lighting ourselves with strobe lights. It was pretty tight.

What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?

My last day job was working at a huge live sound PA rental warehouse in Nashville. We would put together huge PA systems for festivals and tours. My job before that was bar tending at the 40 Watt Club in Athens, GA, and that was easily my favorite. I was really close with everyone that worked there, and that club has always meant so much to me. The owner, Barry Buck, would let me in to see shows when I was 15, so it’s been a big part of my life for a long time!

How has your music-related income changed over the past 5-10 years? What do you expect it to look like 5-10 years from now?

My music related income has gradually increased over the last 5 years. Musically, I’ve always had a lot of different things happening, but producing/engineering and White Violet have been the constants. It ebbs and flows, but for about the last year I’ve been able to do music full time. Hopefully I can keep that going.

What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?

I live by the reminder that music is just as subjective as any other art form, and that it takes a long time to build a career.

AGES, the third release from White Violet, is a record of unprecedented pacing. Bandmates Nate Nelson (songwriter, instrumentalist, producer) and Brad Morgan (instrumentalist, songwriter) plan to release tracks in five digital volumes, two tracks at a time, over the course of one album cycle. At the end, the album will be released on vinyl in its entirety. Each volume is a parcel to unpack and take in, a piece of the gradually unfolding puzzle. Each experience is like a bright correspondence with a stranger who, at the end of which, you meet to hear them speak their heart in full. The album will be written over the course of the cycle–amping emotional proximity to the material onstage–giving AGES an authentic narrative. In an age where we have access to endless streaming, sculpting a record into multiple releases is not only strategic and pioneering, but also an invitation to have a conversation; letting the listener join the band in a slow burn experience.

White Violet formed in Athens, Georgia in 2011. Their first record, Hiding, Mingling (2012), was highly conceptual. A struggle within a dreamscape full of spare, sonic references to youthful memories in Georgia. Their second release, Stay Lost (2014), was recorded over the span of a few weeks in Kernersville, NC, with master engineer Scott Solter. The work was focused and isolated making for a satisfying but standardized mode of producing music. Ethereal guitars, airtight melodies, and eccentric and galvanizing rhythms proved creative prowess. But now, with AGES, the creative process is alive as time passes, and it moves and breathes as the band works and lives. It is intimate and artistically immediate. Savor the story; it is one for the ages.

AGES volume 1 and volume 2 are now available.  Connect with the band online and on the road.