By Tony L. - 3/12/2000
The Outcast: Hello?
The Outcast: Nathan?
The Outcast: Hey, Iím Tony.
Nathan: Hey, how are you doing?
The Outcast: Pretty good. Sorry itís on speaker phone but I have to make sure I record this on my tape player.
Nathan: (Sarcasm) Ah, Iím going to have to kick your ass now.
The Outcast: (Sarcasm) Iím real scared now! So whatís happening?
Nathan: Not a whole lot, just putting a radiator in my car.
The Outcast: Oh yeah? What kind of car do you have?
Nathan: Itís a Mazda Protťgť.
The Outcast: Thatís always fun. So howís everybody doing?
Nathan: Weíre doing real well actually. Right now me and the guitar player are doing the radiator thing now, so...
The Outcast: So you guys have mechanics in your band too?
Nathan: Oh yeah, pretty much all of us know how to work on cars.
The Outcast: You pretty much have to unless you want to cut your arm and leg off.
Nathan: Exactly, itís pretty much dumb to go out on tour and not know anything about cars.
The Outcast: Oh yeah, especially when you have a van and 27 people.
Nathan: Actually, the joke about it has always been anytime weíve broken down and called ahead, the people are like; "Oh itís cool, theyíll be here. They probably have a spare alternator in the truck", and we always do, you know (laughter)?
The Outcast: I donít really know how to start this (This is Tonyís first interview. Sucker!- Mike). So you guys have been around for five years now?
Nathan: Six years.
The Outcast: The one thing I must first compliment you guys on with is that I very rarely picked up a CD that I just canít put down and this new one, "After the Eulogy", rules.
Nathan: Thank you.
The Outcast: Would you guys call your music hard-core? I know it goes along with labels, but...
Nathan: We donít like to label ourselves, but we definitely call ourselves a hard-core band and the only reason being is because if it werenít for the hard-core scene we wouldnít be where we are right now. None of us want to say; "Yeah, you got us where weíre at, but fuck you guys!"
The Outcast: The lyrics I noticed are very conscious, can you elaborate on that?
Nathan: Sure, um... Ever since we got together six years ago, the scene weíre in around here wasnít very political back then. It was just a party scene, which it isnít a big deal, it was still fun, you know? Weíre into partying still but we also have a lot of things we need to talk about, also. So we basically got together and we decided that we were going to mix the two things we reallylike, which is music and our political views, so..
The Outcast: I was reading on the internet not to long ago that youíre a member of; the American Communist Party?
Nathan: Yeah, actually me and our guitarist Josh are, but the other guys arenít.
The Outcast: Does that ever cause any conflict?
Nathan: (pause) You know what, itís never caused conflict but the only thing that it has caused which is good, is debate. The only time Iíve actually gotten disagreements with it, has been with very intelligent people who just wanted to talk about it. Itís never been like; "You fucking commie prick mother..." you know, stuff like that. "I donít agree with it, but letís talk about it.", more along those lines.
The Outcast: Itís always cool to go to a show, especially a hard-core show, and youíll be sitting there talking and to find a person with views of some sort that isnít a follower (We ALL follow something my brother - Mike), I really enjoy that.
Nathan: I think my favorite thing is when people donít agree with me. Itís cool when people come up and they say; "Wow, I really agree with what you have to say." and you can tell that itís really touched them and itís not just like; "Ah, you guys are cool." Then itís a totally different thing and itís just really awesome when people come up and say; "I think youíre full of shit." They talk to you about it and try to see where youíre coming from. Not only do I get to educate people, I get educated by other people. Thereís been plenty of times where Iím just; "You know what, youíre right."
The Outcast: With a lot of the kids that go to hard-core shows, theyíre kind of young and impressionable. Have you ever heard of a fan telling you theyíve changed their ways or their views due to the things you say?
Nathan: Not so much that theyíve changed their ways but we definitely have inspired people just by reading the e-mails weíve received. I really donít think weíve seen people do a complete 180 or anything like that, you know? But we have had people come up and say that they were thinking about doing this and this but after hearing us and the things we had to say they decided to do this instead.
The Outcast: Thatís really cool.
Nathan: Yeah, it is.
The Outcast: Do you, not necessarily preach, but do you talk to the crowd about political issues?
Nathan: Oh yeah, I used to do it a lot more than I do now, but now Iíve been trying to get to the point. Before I was trying to piss off the people that were going; "More music, less talk!" I donít want to piss people off anymore, I want to grab them. Whatís the point of being a political band if youíre not reaching everyone? Whatís the point if youíre trying to piss people off? So we decided to try and cater to everybody. Maybe the people who always scream; "Just play a fucking song!", if you keep the message short and concise and you keep the energy in between while youíre talking, then theyíll probably listen to you.
The Outcast: I can understand that. So how do your shows go?
Nathan: They go incredible.
The Outcast: I can imagine. Do people freak out?
Nathan: Oh yeah. The funniest thing is that everyone wants to get on the stage. We have a stage guy who helps out with the tuning of the guitars and all. A lot of times he has to keep me from getting crushed. You always see people moshing and stuff but at our shows you donít see as much of that as you would see.... it kind of looks like cuddling (laughter), people just jumping on each other and screaming.
The Outcast: Total release.
Nathan: Totally, itís awesome.
The Outcast: Iíve noticed that on your releases you have some songs that are really, really heavy and some of the other stuff almost sounds like it would be eemo (spelling?- Mike). Does anyone ever give you shit for that? Iíve noticed that at some shows you have all these big muscular guys (Like you, Tony!?- Mike) who go and try to push people around and when a slow song comes on theyíre like; "What is this shit?"
Nathan: Actually, weíve had that happen once or twice. I wish I could remember where this one show was at. We were playing this show and this huge, huge guy comes up to me after the show, all tough looking, looking mean and he said; "Man, you guys really touched me" (laughter), I was like; "What the fuck!?" Donít get emotional with me, you know? We havenít really had a problem with that though.
The Outcast: Have you had any kind of vocal training?
Nathan: No, not really. My parents both sang and I was in chorus class all my life in school (um.. Isnít that vocal training?- Mike) so I guess I was a chorus nerd. It was the thing I loved to do.
The Outcast: How about any of the other members in the band, any training?
Nathan: You know, I really donít think so, but I donít want to say Iím positive.
The Outcast: The thing Iíve noticed is that your guyís music isnít A-B-A-B style of hardcore. What kind of practices do you guys have? Does one person write the music?
Nathan: We never list who writes the songs in the CD because nobody really writes them. We all write them and itís kind of chaotic in practice actually.
The Outcast: Are there times where the music is written around a vocal part?
Nathan: Rarely. Usually what happens with the vocals is that Iíll have some lyrics written, theyíll play something and Iíll go; "That sounds like these lyrics I just wrote", you know? For some reason theyíll fit together out of no where. A lot of times when we write new songs and we play shows, Iíll just make up words as I go along. Then after a while Iíll remember the parts I really liked.
The Outcast: Changing the subject, the name Boy Sets Fire, did you guys burn houses down when you were little kids?
Nathan: Absolutely, weíre all arsonists. We sit around and make bombs and hopefully the CIA is listening right about now.
The Outcast: I really hope so too.
Nathan: Do you know Charles Mcowski, the writer?
The Outcast: Yes.
Nathan: I was reading "The Most Beautiful Girl in Town", and in the back of the book it had other books put out by City Lights, the publisher. Thereís a book....man I wish I could remember his name right now, Omar something, but the book was called The Boy Who Sets Fire, and I thought that was a cool name. So I brought the book back and was like; Hey, letís use this! Then someone else said; hey, thatís too fuckin long! Okay, so we changed it to Boy Sets Fire. We put our own meaning behind it. Itís symbolic for the potential of you to change something.
The Outcast: Thatís really cool. Well, now I have to ask you a couple of questions that goes along with the theme to this magazine.
The Outcast: Whatís your opinion on Jesus Christ?
The Outcast: Yeah, crazy huh?
Nathan: Hey, I havenít been asked that one yet, good job! I love when someone sneaks in some stuff that I havenít been asked before. Um, I grew up.... My dad is a pastor actually.
The Outcast: So youíre one of those rebellious preacher kids?
Nathan: I went through that, yeah, but Iíve always had a great relationship with my parents and I think it had something to do growing up really poor. You get a close bond with your parents when youíre poor a lot of times. You have to rely on each other to live. My dad wasnít really the type to shove things down your throat, like Christianity type stuff. Iíve never actually had a bad opinion about Christianity, like a lot of other people when they are raised in Christian homes. My personal beliefs, I definitely believe in God and in Jesus Christ and in all of that. I consider myself a pretty spiritual person. Not much for organized religions, but thatís not the question. But um, what do you mean? What I think about him as a person, or what?
The Outcast: Weíve interviewed bands that are completely all about God and then bands that are all about Satan. Some people when you ask them this question say; "Piss on that!" Itís like, okay, well... I personally believe that there was a Jesus, but I donít really know if he was necessarily the Messiah. Thatís how I would answer it.
Nathan: Well, okay. My opinion is..... I have a really weird.... itís almost agnostic but not really a type of belief on the way I believe. I believe that Jesus was the son of God and all that, but the thing is, I donít really know, from my experiences and from what I feel. My basic hope is that when I die, if Iím wrong, I hope that whatever spiritual deity is out there or whatever is going on out there is merciful enough to know that I tried.
The Outcast: You lived your life the best you could.
Nathan: I lived it the best I could and I tried to grab a hold of some kind of spirituality that meant something to me.
The Outcast: Thatís pretty much the basis on how I feel. Hereís another question for you. What do you think would be the worst way to die?
Nathan: Um... I want to say freezing but I heard that freezing the second before you freeze to death is warm and really nice. (Um.... how in the world can someone say/know that? Dead people donít speak! Do they cram it in the second before they die? Please let me know! Anyone! - Mike)
The Outcast: Um, really?
Nathan: Yeah, but I think that it would be either drowning or getting eaten alive by rats. Rats are horrible, I canít stand rats! Iím okay with snakes and spiders, but bats or rats, fuck them. Bats are just rats with wings.
The Outcast: How about the best way to die?
Nathan: Well, number one freezing, maybe that, or overdosing on oxygen.
The Outcast: Interesting. If you only had one more day to live, what would you do?
Nathan: Um, shit! I donít think I would be able to do the things I want to do in one day. If I could do the things I want to do in one day, Iíd learn how to tap dance. Iíve always wanted to box. Iíve been looking into that actually but Iím just not into getting my ass kicked, you know?
The Outcast: I would think that it would teach you humility.
Nathan: Guaranteed (Laughter)! But in all reality what am I going to do in one day?
The Outcast: Exactly, but you could find the people that you love and let them know about it.
Nathan: Yeah, yeah, definitely. I know a lot of people, so that in it self would take an entire day.
The Outcast: What would you want written on your epitaph?
Nathan: Hmm... I think people would start laughing if I died. (In a different voice) "Thank God that guy is gone! Always talking, talking, talking, that guy never shuts up!" You know, thatís something I might have to put thought into. I have no idea.
The Outcast: Thatís cool. Well man, thatís about all the questions I have for you. Do you want to say anything in closing?
Nathan: Nope! Thatís the worst question ever, I hate that question.
The Outcast: I understand that man, I tried mixing it up a little.
Nathan: You did good, you did really good. You had some good questions.
The Outcast: Awesome.
Nathan: That was much better than some of the other interviews Iíve had.
The Outcast: Well thanks, and Iíll let you get back to your car.
Nathan: Okay, thanks. See you later.