Some discs and bands come along and just beg for more press and an interview... the latest disc from Shaman's Harvest did exactly that. From the killer riffs and opening of "Dangerous" to the over the top cover of Michael Jackson's "Dirty Diana" and everything in between, this band from Missouri has recorded and is about to unleash a great disc that every rock music fan should hear...
Toddstar: I am so pleased to announce I've got Nathan Hunt of Shaman's Harvest on the phone. He is sitting in a studio or in a record label office in New York. How is it going out there?
Nathan: It's going good man. So far, the response to the record has been pretty good. Other than that, we are sitting in China Town smelling all the beautiful smells of China Town. I'm missing my four acres of land right now.
Toddstar: I was going to say, New York City is a far cry from Jefferson City, Missouri.
Nathan: Yeah, yeah, yeah. No kidding. You're telling me.
Toddstar: You brought it up. Let's talk about "Smokin' Hearts and Broken Guns" man. This is your first release with Mascot Label Group. You say the feedback has been good so far? What kind of feedback are you guys getting?
Nathan: Critics and stuff have started coming in with the record and so far... Of course, you don't really read any bad reviews. At least they don't ever send them to the band. All I've seen are good reviews but ... We are starting to get some adds on our single "Dangerous", so it's been cool man.
Toddstar: I have been able to listen to it thankfully for a couple of weeks now and it hasn't left my rotation. You mentioned "Dangerous". It kicks the disk off and it kicks it off with a big punch man. What kind of attitude did you guys go into it with when you decided to write and then record this disc?
Nathan: Each song has its own different vibe. Particularly "Dangerous", you are right. It was one of those that you've got to go in almost aggressive with a song like that. It's got that four on the floor, straightforward AC/DC rock and roll sound. It is kind of almost a classic sound. It makes you want to drive fast. Then you've got the other end of the spectrum like "In the End", which has that epic ending feel. It is more of an emotional type track. Each tune has its own feeling to it I think.
Toddstar: When you guys were in writing this and then recording it and getting it ready for release upon the masses, did you find there were any songs that just kind of wrote themselves? Just kind of, "BOOM! This is Shaman's Harvest and this is what we do."
Nathan: Really all of them did. We pretty much did the record ... We wrote the songs as we were recording. Somebody would be in the other room and they would write a riff and bring it into the cutting floor and next thing you know, we are doing that song. While we were doing that song, if somebody had a break, they would be writing another song so it was really a pretty easy process as records go for us as far as the writing process goes.
Toddstar: Cool. You guys have one of the best covers I have heard in a long time with "Dirty Diana." I love it.
Nathan: Right on.
Toddstar: What made you guys want to tackle Michael Jackson's "Dirty Diana" for this disc?
Nathan: We just saw it as it is a song we all listen to on the road. It is probably in everybody's iPhone. We just saw it as a very Shaman's Harvestesque song to me, whenever I listen to the original. It just kind of made sense. It wasn't really until after we got done recording before we realized, we kind of looked at it and was like, "Wait. We just covered a Michael Jackson song." It didn't really set in until after the fact. We probably should have approached it a little more humbly but it felt good so we just thought, "Why the hell not?"
Toddstar: It feels good on this end of the speakers. I am telling you, if you didn't know the original, you wouldn't know it wasn't a Shaman's Harvest song. I think that you guys put your own piss and vinegar in it, so to speak.
Nathan: Yeah, yeah. That's the perfect way to put it. Piss and vinegar man.
Toddstar: I also liked that you guys took the single from your last album, Shine, and you put a spin on it by throwing an acoustic/unplugged version of "Dragonfly" on this. Was there a reason to revisit that song as well?
Nathan: We had actually recorded that between the records. I want to say it was a year after we had done the initial record and we realized well, shit, "Dragonfly" is taking off so we should probably... We have always had an organic, acoustic feel to it so we thought, "Let's do an acoustic version of it." Nobody ever really got the track other than a few radio stations here and there played it and we just felt like people needed to hear it because we enjoyed it. We enjoyed the experience of recording it and we thought that, "Why waste it? Throw it on the record." That's really how it wound up on there.
Toddstar: Cool. You guys have been doing this for a long time as a band. 1999 was your first release. You guys have been a unit of the Floor View since I think right around 2008, 2009. This is the second album you guys are putting out with this line up. Do you still feel you guys are growing together or are you guys pretty much a unit and now you can just take over the world?
Nathan: I really think we continue to grow every record we do in that in between time. I almost see every record as like a developmental stage. We never stop growing and trying to develop who we are as a unit. I don't know if we will ever be like ... I don't know if with Shaman's Harvest you can ever say, "That's AC/DC. That's their sound." Because we try to change it up every record to keep it interesting for us, you know? I guess we need a little more continuity probably.
Toddstar: When you have been doing it 40 years you will probably have that sound that everyone says, "That's Shaman's Harvest."
Nathan: Yeah, right, right, right.
Toddstar: You have this album coming out. You have a good, safe catalog behind you. Time to take this out on the road?
Nathan: Oh, yeah. Yeah. That's what we are trying to do here in New York. We are trying to get together a tour. We are going to be doing through the Midwest; we will be doing little runs here and there. I think we have some Theory of a Deadman shows coming up. We just did some Theory of a Deadman and Crobot shows which were great. We are doing some House of Blues but there will be a tour put together and we will probably be doing that winter run and then we have plans to come to Europe and try to see what we can do over there.
Toddstar: Very cool. Let's talk about you for a minute Nathan. What or who made you want to put together a band and be a rock star? Who made you want to stand behind a microphone and do this for a living?
Nathan: I have always found interest in writing songs ever since I was a little kid probably. I have never really imagined doing anything else. Maybe I was going to be an astronaut but other than that. It was either astronaut or rock star, you know? I chose the path of least resistance I think. I never imagined that I would do something else. It is a natural thing for all of us I think.
Toddstar: When you are going out on the road, what are the few things you look around and you think, "I can't leave without that?"
Nathan: Headphones, definitely. My old man pillow, my orthopedic pillow. Those are the only two things I need on the road.
Toddstar: You would be surprised how many guys say that nowadays. They want that orthopedic pillow.
Nathan: Really? Good. You've got to have the $60 pillow. It beats those little shitty hotel pillows all day long. We'll feel a pillow every now and then from a hotel but it just don't add up, you know what I mean? You get what you pay for.
Toddstar: That's true. If you were at a venue and, we love you, we know you have been through this area. I am in the Detroit area and I know I have seen you up in Flint at the world-famous Machine Shop but...
Nathan: Oh, yeah, love that club.
Toddstar: Yeah, it is one of the best, not only being a band in it but it is one of the best to see a band in these days. If you were at a place like the Machine Shop and you left your phone behind, or your iPod, what would be in your opinion the oddest piece of music that a fan would find in your phone or your iPod?
Nathan: The oddest piece of music? I could tell you honestly it is jungle birds. I don't know if that is really music. Bird sounds from the jungle would be the weirdest thing. Fuckin' crows and shit man. Birds and what not.
Toddstar: Okay. When you are out, other than playing hometown shows in Jefferson City, and you have mentioned your love for the Machine Shop, are there are cities you guys just love getting into?
Nathan: Yeah there are. Really all of like ... When you start heading out west, there are some clubs out there I really like but just the scenery man and the days off. You don’t have to smell vomit on the street. You can go out and walk some trails and kind of reconnect a little bit. Kind of plug in your soul again. Try and charge it up a little bit because definitely being on the road takes a toll and all you really see if fricking highways, you know what I mean? You see the hardtop all the time. You don't get a chance to get off the road. Days off out west are pretty much the best. I don't know if that answers your question but...
Toddstar: Shit, it is one of the best answers that I have ever had.
Nathan: You are good for the ego.
Toddstar: There you go. Something happened to you during the recording of the new album and it hits home with me. I am a National Volunteer with the American Cancer Society.
Nathan: Oh, right on.
Toddstar: You were diagnosed with rare and aggressive lymph cancer and you fought through it while recording the album. I mean, that had to be hell on you.
Nathan: It sucked.
Toddstar: I was just going to say, do you feel this made you appreciate everything going with Shaman's Harvest and your recording? Did it bring anything more into perspective for you or did it just make you work that much harder to make it come together?
Nathan: I think probably both. It definitely did bring some things into perspective. I mean, I can't say that we didn't think, "Shit, man, there is a good chance this is our last record we will make as a band", being that it was in my throat. That kind of affects a lot of things, especially for a vocalist obviously. I think realizing the mortality of it and that we just needed to take advantage of this and it affected, I think, every song. I think you can hear it in every song. For instance, "In the End", that was probably the first song I sing vocals on and realized that I can still do treatments and sing at the same time and still make it work out. It affected every song.
Toddstar: Very cool. Most important, congrats on being a survivor. That is no small feat.
Nathan: I didn't do anything. It's really the Missouri Cancer Association. They took care of me pretty well.
Toddstar: That all being said. You fought this disease but you guys are getting ready to hit the road. You are putting together the packages, you have this killer damn disk getting ready to hit with killer single "Dangerous", some great acoustic, low tempo stuff, and again, the "Dirty Diana". Everything seems to be running on eight cylinders for you guys. Everything is just steaming full speed ahead. Looking back now, for you, at this point Nathan, what is the meaning of life? What holds dear for you at this point with everything going good?
Nathan: Oh, shit. Man, I have been on a lot of integers of the spectrum in this music industry and I can appreciate every minute of this because we have a great team now. Everybody is jumping on board and going full throttle, so just being able to appreciate every moment because I know, I don't care who you are, it is so easy for it to all go away in a heartbeat. Next year, I could be sitting on a couch, getting fatter eating Doritos, you know what I mean? Instead of trying to be out there playing clubs and what I was born to do. It is not really answering your question but I think that it is really important for all of us to appreciate every second of this. I mean, hell, we are Missouri boys. We don't get to go hang out in New York for a week, you know? That is not a normal thing for us. This is like a great experience.
Toddstar: Cool. Very cool. Listen man. I cannot wait until the world gets their hands on this thing. Smokin' Hearts and Broken Guns will be out September 16th from Shaman's Harvest. The new single "Dangerous". Hopefully some words soon on some tour dates, especially here back in Michigan.
Nathan: Absolutely man. I'm sure we will be there any minute. Behind The Machine Shop and messing with the banana up there.
Toddstar: Awesome. Nathan, thank you so much for your time today. Enjoy New York and we'll talk to you soon brother.
Nathan: Alright brother. Take care.