Interview:: Nate from the Format

We had a chance to talk to Nate from the Format today. Read about how dapper Boris Diaw is, how not to sound like an emo band and a lot about one of my favorite records of the year.

HH:: Hey Nate. Just a little about us. We are a small web site from Vancouver, dealing with a lot of indie bands and some sports on the side.
NR:: Cool. How is Vancouver?

HH:: Well, we are going through a heat wave, and Steve Nash cut his hair, so our whole world is upside down.
NR:: I totally think my roommate started the movement to get Nash to cut his hair. I’m a huge Suns fan, we both are. I wear my mesh Suns shorts everywhere. And my roommate has long hair like Nash and I told him he needed to shave it down, like Boris Diaw. Then Nash did.

HH:: Ha ha. Well Boris might want to let his grow out. He’s not exactly the best looking dude. Some hair might cover that up
NR:: What? Are you kidding? Boris Diaw is a dapper looking gentleman.

HH:: (laughs) Well, let’s just agree that he is a way better basketballer than people thought. So before we jump into the new record, I have to ask you this. I was, and am a big Jimmy Eat World fan and was doing stuff for Capitol when Clarity got released, ignored and then they got dropped. Then they make another great album and explode. You guys seem to be following the same path. I know you are friend with them, do you ever talk about it?
NR:: No, not really. I mean sometimes we laugh about it, and we’ve talked to Jim about what they went through because we are going through the same stuff, but I think it just seems that way because we are from the same area. I mean, we didn’t re-sign, this one is a self-release.

HH:: Yeah for sure. So how much better is it to have complete control over everything and kind of piggy back on Nettwerk knowing you are in control of everything?
NR:: Truthfully, it’s the best thing in the world. I mean, when Interventions came out, there were so many problems. It was so easy to just blame other people for everything. But now, there is no one I can blame even if I wanted to, except myself.

HH:: Well luckily it’s a fantastic record, so there won’t be too much blame.
NR:: Awesome. Thanks. It’s so different now. So much has to do with touring. It’s a slow and steady process. It’s not like we are trying to take over the world. You are always on the road. It seems that bands, and it hasn’t happened to us, but who knows, but bands are huge for like a second. Like a few years ago we were on tour with Yellowcard, and it was a huge tour and now we played a show a few days ago and sold it out and they didn’t three days before. Which sucks cause they are nice guys, but people are so fickle.

HH:: Exactly. The internet makes it worse at times, because the album leaks, kids download it and forget about the album unless it comes on their Ipod. How did you react when the album leaked?
NR:: Well, actually the leak was a good thing for us. It gave people a chance to get a taste of the record before getting bombarded on release day which was good. And the press is on board. It’s fantastic, but just surprising. In hindsight it’s been great, but originally I was freaking out. I mean after so many problems on the last record, and what was going on on the relationship side I finally had a record I was feeling great about and it leaked. I was just kind of left asking, “is anything ever going to go right?”

HH:: That’s a good enough segue to ask you about the new record. I’m not going to ask you about the lyrics, because they are obviously very personal and no artist wants to explain the songs they write, but the themes of the record are obvious to anyone who listens. I can see how writing the songs would be a great vessel to get some of that emotion out, but is it hard to sing about those feelings and revisit that every night?
NR:: It’s not a problem anymore. When I first wrote those songs, they were for me and no one else. We actually wanted it to be a 2-sided record, where there is a moment of realization in the middle, Dog Problems, and the rest of the album was going to be sunny and happy. But I started writing and couldn’t stop. It was great to get it off my chest, and I think recording it helped a lot. But so did growing up. I just kind of realized we weren’t meant to be. I’ve forgiven the person. Now singing it is more bitter sweet, not just bitter. We were young, and young people make mistakes.

HH:: That’s a good way to look at. Interesting you bring up sunny and warm, because I have to wonder how it feels to have people write that the album is good, but a guilty pleasure. Or typecast it as an emo record. I like it …but. Is it hard to read people justifying why they like your music.
NR:: It’s more just weird. We wanted to write a pop record. I wanted to see what people were saying about it, and for the most part, the press is insane. So happy about that, but then you read it’s a great summer record. I mean, how the fuck do you write a winter record? All minor chords? It’s strange, and as for emo. That’s just a complete joke. Anyone who says tat can’t be listening to the record. Maybe before we were the Format in like ’99 or something, but we haven’t thought about emo since. I think it’s because we have the same booking agent as some of those bands and have played with a lot of them ,but we’ve never said, “how can we make this sound like a Get Up Kids song.” It’s funny where people think your influences are just from a bio.

HH:: Speaking of influences. We like to ask artists what influences them. People will take notice of a band you like or a book you read, especially bloggers. So what are three things you’d recommend to fans of your band?
NR:: Hmm. Well for music, for the last few days, I’ve been listening to Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk non-stop. Like I get to my bunk and just play it over and over. I’m reading Confederacy of Dunces right now.

HH:: That’s one of my favorite books. It’s so good. I don’t think it’s possible to hate a character more than Ignatius. But it makes it perfect.
NR:: Oh man. You can’t stand him. But the whole back story, with the author and everything makes it fantastic. I’m going to finish it tonight.

HH:: Well listen. I know it’s press day, so I won’t take up too much of your time. But I just wanted to say we ranked your album as one of our Top 5 for the first half of the year and people are loving it. We get more searches on your album than any other album we’ve talked about. I know you aren’t playing Vancouver, but we are heading to Seattle to see the show.
NR:: We’d love to play Vancouver. I love that city. Well, except that Gas Light. I mean people clap and take pictures of it all the time. So Vancouver’s great, but that light is shaaaady.

HH:: Yeah, I’m not really sure why people love it. I don’t really get it. When I first moved here, people were like, go check it out. I was like, why? But I’m looking forward to the Seattle show.
NR:: Cool. Come up and say hi.

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