The Many Worlds of Nathan Moore

 
There's hypocrisy with the religious community waging these wars and damaging the environment that made me want to pull the Jesus I knew up. The Jesus I know is completely against these wars and the use of fossil fuels. The Jesus I know would never be in favor of these things. On [In His Own Worlds] I wanted him to be there in the room, to invite Jesus into the conversation, hopefully as tactfully as possible.

-Nathan Moore

 
Photo by Jon Bahr

If you love words you cut yourself off from such amazing imagery, language and touchstones if you totally reject religious subject matter. What would the Grateful Dead be without songs like "Sampson and Delilah"? These are bedrock stories, and they're in the air whether you want to believe them or not. Even our cartoons are informed by these stories. So why would you want to cut yourself off from them?

Nathan Moore by Zack Smith
As a writer, the idea of a story that's traveled so many years to your ears, you just have to have some reverence for a story that's shaped so much, done so many things, come so far, to me, this little boy in Virginia.

Being Americans, I think it's impossible to not have the Judeo-Christian tradition be the one you tap into on some level. I know plenty of people who've converted to Buddhism or Hindu paths but that doesn't diminish the impact these stories had on them as little boys or girls. They grew up within the same meta-structure we did. It's sort of funny, this conscious rejection of it when it's impossible to really get away from it.

We all know Jesus studied Buddhism during his missing years. He traveled the Orient and picked up on the mystic ways.

The number of congruencies in all the big religions, which were birthed largely around the same time, far outnumbers the places they don't sync up. That tells you they were all listening to each other.

They all serve a different purpose. Buddhism really represents the inner struggle towards enlightenment, and Christ energy relates to a more social realization of the enlightened state. Buddhism's internal action is really the same thing as the external Christ action. To me, religion isn't that important, but there's a part of me that sees the wars we're in, the caretaking of the environment and other issues. There's hypocrisy with the religious community waging these wars and damaging the environment that made me want to pull the Jesus I knew up. The Jesus I know is completely against these wars and the use of fossil fuels. The Jesus I know would never be in favor of these things. On [In His Own Worlds] I wanted him to be there in the room, to invite Jesus into the conversation, hopefully as tactfully as possible [laughs].

It's an expressly hopeful record. It's striking. I like the wit and cynicism in your earlier work a lot, maybe because it plays to my own cynical tendencies, but when I really dug into this record – and it didn't take very long – there was a sense of a light being held up, no matter how small it may be, that says, "It's not all darkness out there."

A lot of times I tend to do that for myself. I write myself advice. I write things I wish people would say to me like "It's all going to be okay." I'm not even necessarily saying that to you, I'm reminding myself. In some way, I was trying to put a light up there for myself.

It carries over to the listener but it makes sense that it would start with you. You have to figure out what advice you need before you start giving it to others. That's actually pretty enlightened, dude.

[laughs hard] It is a little weird though, huh?

What does playing in a number of different settings like Davis or ThaMuseMeant do for you?

ThaMuseMeant
I think it helps in a lot of different ways. One is individually. Playing with a lot of different people expands my playing and the perception of the same song. Just playing with The Slip guys, just spending an afternoon with them making music, I can tangibly feel the growth in my own playing just being exposed to the way they hear music and the way it comes through their bodies. It's just such an insight in perception. I start playing a song and then all of the sudden they take it somewhere else, and I didn't even know it could be seen in that light. Once you've seen it in that light you have an expanded perception of what it can be. The other thing that's cool is say I go from Davis to ThaMuseMeant, all of the sudden the strengths of those projects are so glowing to me. High Sierra this year is a great example, where I went from the nighttime Davis set to the ThaMuseMeant in the morning. It was night and day in such a beautiful way. It just makes me love everybody so much more when I can contrast their uniqueness.

It's got to be a kick being the one who brings these fantastic musicians the songs, the springboards of your craft, so much of the time.

I feel really lucky. I don't know any other way to put it. I have no idea what I've done to deserve such a royal slot. I feel I benefit a lot from having these great people willing to play with me and do my songs. I just scored big time.

Don't think I've ever asked you this but where the hell did Percy Boyd (Moore's demo spewing alter ego) come from?

It came from Robertson Davies' Deptford Trilogy that includes The Manticore. Percy Boyd Stanton is one of the key characters and I'm from Stanton. I was reading that trilogy when my dad came up one night. We'd been drinking all day and he tells me I need an alter ego. I had a lot of trouble playing in the Shenandoah Valley because I came from the West, where I was a ranter, a political spokesman of sorts and I liked my stump, but I'd get out there and I'd shut down. I'd be playing at a gazebo in the park or something and there'd be all these normal people in front of me and I wouldn't know what to say because it wasn't a bunch of radicals or hippies or revolutionaries. I like preaching to the choir. I like being a cheerleader for the counter-culture. That's just really comfortable for me. Talking to the mainstream I just shut down, so my dad suggested I come up with this other identity. He said, "They'd love your voice and playing. Just be this other guy who doesn't have to represent everything you are." So, I came up with Percy Boyd, who's a sort of Everyman but still ambiguous. He's not necessarily this innocent guy that everybody would know and love. He's just as complicated as me but maybe a little more fun [laughs].

Continue reading for more with Nathan Moore...


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