The Many Worlds of Nathan Moore

 
Saying that Christ is not my savior is like saying Jim Morrison is not my Lizard King.

-Nathan Moore

 

You do take the fruits of different plants and taste them with different configurations. How does it change for you where they start in one band and end up in another? "Rubberball" is a good example of this.

Nathan Moore
That is the one song that I still don't think any of the bands have really tapped into the novelty pleasure that song is designed to offer. But, it is the one song every band has their own version of and people respond very strongly to. Whereas, a lot of songs will shine in Davis but ThaMuseMeant wouldn't know what to do with them or vice-versa. A lot of songs in my solo act don't cater to other settings.

There's a number of tunes on the new one I can't imagine making the leap to these other settings, like I can't see say "The Tanks" working elsewhere because it's just so you.

I wrote that song on Slip tour and it was first debuted with The Slip at Stanford [University] but it went to sleep for a few years and woke up on this record.

I like that you speak to power but you don't do so in the traditional Woody Guthrie way. This very gifted songwriter I know once said, "It's hard to write a protest song" [from ThaMuseMeant's "Protest Song']. It's tough to avoid getting up on a soapbox these days, to avoid preaching to people, but at the same time you have to say something.

Right, right. I think living at home in Virginia has really changed a lot of things for me, and I even see it now that I'm out touring the West. I'm doing rants on this last tour that I would never do at home. This record was definitely made in the light of being back home. When I'm there I have my grandmother and mother in the audience. I have my high school teachers and 16-year-old kids. It's the community holistically represented. In that sense, when I was making this record I couldn't really live with myself if I didn't speak against the injustices or for the evolution we all like to feel a part of as often as possible. But, I wanted to do it in such a way that it wouldn't put anybody off or my grandmother wouldn't feel uncomfortable giving the record to her friends at church [laughs]. It was a pretty daunting task for someone used to waging a war on drugs with a million friends. I wanted to find a more backdoor approach to these topics. I think Jesus is mentioned on the record three or four times. A lot of it was definitely in the hometown light.

I think there's a value in putting conscious restraints on yourself, not the ones other people put on you but ones where you go, "I'm going to put this wall up here and operate within that boundary because I see value in it."

Anybody who's ever worked with a rhyme scheme knows how brilliant that kind of restraint can be. So much magic can come from that restraint. People think, "Oh I don't want to be tied down. I don't want there to be rules." But, it's pretty amazing when you have to rhyme one line with the next. The most perfect thing you would never have thought to say comes from being forced to find that rhyme. That's just always amazed me. I used to say, "My limits are my wings," and that was sort of in praise of the form I was sticking to – not free verse, not abstraction – but trying to find beauty in such formulas.

Surprise Me Mr. Davis by Zack Smith
Songwriting, at its best, is a form of poetry, and poetry is all about structure and leaps between the stanzas, but leaps that make sense, not just random words that sound pretty. Even if it seems that way, I don't think any poet ever did it randomly.

I agree. I don't have anything to add to that [laughs].

As you say, you bring up Jesus a few times on this record. That's a hard subject, especially in 2007 America. God has been so co-opted for so many stupid, ugly, even barbaric things. I guess it's really all around the world. You can't limit it to America. There's tremendous stupidity involving God happening all over the place. And it's almost as if God has dropped out of the discourse with rock and folk songwriting. I guess it's easier for most people in that world to not deal with God at all.

I don't personally have much issue with the language of religion. Saying that Christ is not my savior is like saying Jim Morrison is not my Lizard King [laughs]. I just don't have that big an issue with the language. I was raised by it, found beauty within it and made it make sense to me. It took a lot of work, and maybe that work wasn't necessary. It could have come from other kinds of work but I worked with that language, that story and found truth within it. After I'd done all that work I didn't want to throw it all away. I know so many people, especially where I come from, that still go to church every Sunday and are still speaking that language. So, I don't mind throwing my interpretation of the story back at 'em using the same language. At the same time, I completely understand why someone would throw that language away and start anew. For me, it's part of how I was raised, what I went through, and I happily refer to that story. I still believe Jesus said and did all the right things. It's the perfect story that we need today.

The other point I wanted to make is for a while there, the zealots - be they Christians or Islamic fascists or whatever side of the spectrum – really looked like they were taking over and we were going to live in their world for a while. What I've seen in the past few years is the majority of the societies on all ends are not accepting that, not letting them have their way. I don't think religion in this country has been co-opted by the Right. They tried and it seemed like they had for a few really frightening months, maybe even a few frightening years, but I don't think they've ultimately been successful.

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