Wild and Free
An Interview with Nathan Moore
Words by Martin Halo — North Carolina
Burlington, North Carolina — “I have never seen Jersey Shore or heard of Rebecca Black”, says Nathan Moore, and it makes him the luckiest man on the face of the planet. “I’m 40 years old, I’m not hip”, he laughs. “You might as well ask Woody Gutherie what he thinks.”
He has never written a hit single, or had his song featured in a car commercial, but through a decade worth of rambling solo work and alongside Marco Benevento in Surprise Me Mr. Davis, Nathan Moore is living the Hippy dream; or better put, a Hippy Fiasco.
The afternoon sun is blaring through the open windows of Hursey’s Bar-B-Q in Burlington, NC and onto the large ordering board. On the walls, pictures of ex-Presidents stare back at those waiting in line.
“I’ll go for the large BBQ”, says Moore over the cash register while standing next to The Low Anthem’s Jeff Prystowsky. The two bands will been traveling together throughout the night bound for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival via a quick pit stop in Atlanta, Georgia. It has been an unconventional journey for an unconventional entertainer since the release of his 9th studio album, Dear Puppeteer, back on February 1 via the Royal Potato Family; and it all started with a bankrupt concert promoter in the rural forests of Northern California.
“I was gonna get $1500 to fly out to the Mystic Garden Party, play an afternoon slot and then catch a red eye back home”, explains Moore. “I caught word that the festival was crumbling before I even got on the plane. I had a chance to turn back but there was something ticking in me that was welcoming being thrown into a mess. I wrote the song ‘Hippy Fiasco Rides Again’ at the airport. We spent all of our money on the flight and my road manger, Chad Galactic, looked at me like ‘what do we do?'”. We cancelled the flight home and spontaneously booked a week-long tour to recoup our losses. That tour quickly became the most amazing experience I have ever had a solo performer.”
The ensuing string of dates was a spontaneous collection of performances up and down the West Coast. His fans invited the songwriter into their living rooms and their backyard BBQs. With no schedule and their destinations unknown, any and all offers were accepted.
The experience, which was straight out of a Ken Kesey novel, inspired Nathan Moore and in the spring of 2011 he decided to expand the initial Hippy Fiasco from a few weeks to a few months.
“For me personally I have been touring under a traditional way for so many years”, Moore explains. “The agent books the gig and the promoter promotes it. There was something about that whole thing that became so predictable and I didn’t like my role in it. ‘Come sit in front of me and I’ll be special'”, snickers Moore. “It is not the reason why I wanted to do this. I always wanted to be a part of something and I always wanted to be great. I guess I wanted to be a great part of something. With the Hippy Fiasco, I have come to feel that type of vibrancy that I have been yearning for.”
– Nathan Moore
What has made the Hippy Fiasco a unique and lasting experience is a 24/7 web video stream that bringing fans along for the adventure through Hippyfiasco.com. “We are on a journey where the audience is pulling the strings”, says Nathan Moore. “We didn’t realize the levels of participation that would unfold. If we came to a fork in the road, the people watching would tell us left or right. They are our friends, they help us write songs and we dubbed them ‘the creepers’.”
The Hippy Fiasco Rides Again Tour is featuring the selections that appeared on Nathan Moore’s recently released LP, Dear Puppeteer. “I wrote all of the songs around the time we were making the record”, he says. “The record wouldn’t exist without my relationship with Bryan Elijah Smith. I was trying to record some stuff on my own and was falling short on what I wanted. This kid, I call him a kid, he is only 25, came up to my house and engineered the record. Together he and I just wrote in my basement. It was a time that I will never forget. We were in a state of grace. We didn’t sleep much and when we did sleep we would get right back into it as soon as we woke up. The only thing looking back that I kick myself about was not pushing a little harder. If we stayed in that mind space we could have easily had another record.”
The precursor to Dear Puppeteer, the raw EP entitled Folk Singer, stood as a stripped down pragmatic demo of fables in 2009. “When I started working with the Royal Potato Family, Kevin Calabro and I decided we needed to release something physical quickly. That record was done in two days in a studio not far from my house. It wasn’t an artistic statement as it was an EP. It is sort of interesting to listen to because my style has changed since then. That was a little moment in time where I was using finger picks and when I listen back there is a part of me that still wishes I was that guy.”
But unlike the social commentary of the was present within Folk Singer of a recession and the mishandling of American finances, the simple problems that plagued the nation back in 2009 have snowballed into a global epidemic of unrest, revolution, and natural disasters with no end in sight.
“What the hell is going on?”, responds Moore. “It is a very interesting time we are in right now. I feel that we are in a state of social procrastination. It is sort of like we didn’t want to mow the lawn because we didn’t feel like it on Tues — we got a good rain on Wed and now it’s the following Monday and we are looking at the yard and our mower can’t even handle the amount of grass. We are basically sitting on our porch scratching our belly, saying ‘where is a good BBQ joint’.”
Nathan Moore will be on the road through July. Be sure to bring him to a town near you soon.
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