Getting To Know The FPSF Locals: Nathan Quick
The beauty of living in Houston is that we have such a diverse city that we get to hear all sorts of music and genres within a scene here. One of the more traditional genres you don’t hear much of anymore — especially considering that Houston is the home of ZZ Top — is blues rock. It’s even more differentiating when you hear a traditional singer songwriter take the reigns of the blues rock world and intertwine the two into something new and fresh; and that’s what Houston’s Nathan Quick has done. In the past five years, Quick has gone from relative unknown artist to dropping three releases and grabbing some pretty nice gigs along the way. Now, as he prepares to play in front of his biggest audience yet at this year’s Free Press Summer Festival, FPH caught up with him to see what he has in store for those who attend the festival and beyond.
FPH: You’ve been doing music for a good while, but I know that you had done oil patch gigs and more in the past, can you explain what made you decide to give everything else to focus on music?
Nathan Quick: I’ve always wanted to go all in and dedicate my life to making music and to the craft of the art. I’ve put in countless hours of time and work to get to the point where I have finally been able to put music at the forefront. I can say that it’s been quite a journey getting to where I am, but I also know there’s so much focus and more countless hours ahead to make my career thrive and keep moving forward
FPH: There’s a vast difference between your 2014 album, The Mile, and last year’s City Lights, this last release was a little closer to your debut, Coming Home, in sound. Was there a reason why The Mile was a little softer than the grittier and bluesy sounds that are all over City Lights?
Quick: At the time of The Mile, I was going through changes in my life such as the loss of my father that made me really want to focus on lyricism and the natural timber of acoustic guitar as a foundation to the music. I was also really wanting to venture into more of the raw elements of songwriting that I hadn’t really shown before. Influences such as Jason Isbell, Ryan Adams, and Townes Van Zandt have always been favorites that I love and wanted to take an approach to writing with those sounds in mind.
FPH: You’ve gotten to play alongside some heavy hitters in the past while making albums at SugarHill Studios with some heavy hitters as well. Do you ever see yourself going the DIY route, or do you prefer using a producer in a proper studio and playing the traditional clubs?
Quick: There’s definitely a big rise in DIY recording this day and age, and I’m all for people who want to venture into that art. I can see myself doing that in the future possibly, but as of right now I feel like the process of recording, mixing, and mastering is something I want to create with the guys over at Sugar Hill. I have a very close relationship with all my engineers and produce the sounds with John Griffin. I’ve been working out of SugarHill Studios since I was 17 and plan to work on crafting my sound and recordings there for as long as I can.
FPH: Your live shows are a mixture of Americana sweetness and grit-fueled blues rock. Have you always mixed things up for your live shows or is that more of a recent thing?
Quick: I’ve been mixing things up for a while as far as bringing acoustic songs into play, but more recently I’ve taken this other side of the sets further. I like using acoustic instruments to add more dynamics when I can. I like telling stories and bringing in a more intimate element in the live shows. I like incorporating violin to add to the sound and to flourish out some of my ideas. I like that I can go from a full on rock band to me and an acoustic guitar all in one setting.
FPH: You’ve put out a good amount of music in a short time, what’s your process for writing and releasing music?
Quick: It may sound ridiculous, but honestly I don’t have a process. I let the lyrics and music come to me. I used to try to sit and write with focus on getting a certain amount of lyrics or music done, but force writing is stressful and for me, never came out the way I wanted. The way I make music now is I just let it come to me via inspiration. I have a notebook and pen hanging around me all the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up in the middle of the night to write down lyrics or noodle with a riff or phrase on the guitar. There have been weeks when I’ve written nothing, other weeks where I’ve written 40 songs.
I like releasing music at least once a year. Whether it’s a single or an EP it’s always a goal to have forward motion. I go to the studio with an outlined idea and do rough recordings. I take the roughs home and fool around with different ideas melodically and sonically. I then go back to the studio after however long it takes me to start the actual recording process. Just because I do a rough recording doesn’t mean I’m going to release it. I have probably done over 100 roughs in the past couple of years, but I like to pick a few out that I love to work on and actually record.
FPH: For a guy who’s dropped three releases in five years, are you gearing up for anything new on the horizon, or are you planning to let City Lights be your foot forward for a while?
Quick: I’m actually finishing up mastering 2 tracks with Chris Longwood over at SugarHill Studios as we speak and plan to release a single this August. City Lights was a good anchor to showcase another side of my writing that I hadn’t let out very much previously. It’s opened up doors for me, but I always push myself to moving forward with my music.
FPH: Besides the performance at the festival, what all do you have in store for 2016 and beyond?
Quick: I’ve begun working on an LP which I plan to release in early 2017 with a larger scale distribution company and a publishing partner that I’m pretty ecstatic about. I plan to go to a handful of other cities here in the U.S. and the U.K. potentially. I’m looking forward to the boom of the Houston music scene and really love being apart of this rising tide we have here.
FPH: I know you’ve wanted to do FPSF for quite some time, do you have anything special planned for your FPSF set?
Quick: I’ve been really pumped about being a part of the festival this year. I plan on bringing out the big guns for the set. There’ll be a few surprises including some special guests on stage, but I don’t want to spoil the fun. You just better count on being there if you want to experience it.
For a guy who’s caught Quick live over the years, I can tell you that his set will be one that you shouldn’t miss out on. His high energy coupled with a joy of performing come together into a fun and moving experience. You can catch his Free Press Summer Festival performance on Sunday June 5 at 11:10 am on the Venus stage. The all ages festival has doors at 11 am and returns to Eleanor Tinsley Park this year. You can grab single day tickets here that range between $92.50 and $119.50, or two day passes here that range between $157.50 and $999.