FACE TiME POLiCE
|ROCKWiRED iNTERViEWS TRUE NATURE
EVERYTHiNG'S iN A NAMEWhile he didnít have the misfortune of being given the surname LUSH, the voice and songwriter behind TRUE NATURE was dealt an equally troublesome fate Ė being named LOU BARLOW. Being confused for the founder of the late-nineties lo-fi rock band DINOSAUR JR. has been an issue of concern for BARLOW given the disparate sound textures and messages between both men. The moniker TRUE NATURE was established to allow the music to shine through and end such confusion. In listening to TRUE NATUREís sophomore EP ĎFEELíS LIKE CENTURIESí Ė names become less important and BARLOWís hope of letting his musicís ENO-esque scope and BONO-esque ideals gleam brightly comes to fruition. With a little help from studio aces TONY LEVIN (JOHN LENNON and KING CRIMSON), AARON COMESS (THE SPIN DOCTORS) and GERRY LEONARD (DAVID BOWIE and RUFUS WAINWRIGHT) FEELS LIKE CENTURIES is a varied set of ambitious rockers (FREEDOM BEHIND THE SUN), smart, contemplative power pop (COLOR OF DAYLIGHT) and plaintive balladry (TRUTH I HAVE TO STEEL). For those who may feel let down by the brevity of ĎÖCENTURIESí, they can be comforted by the fact that TRUE NATURE is putting the finishing touches on their as-of-yet-untitled debut LP, due in early 2010.
LOU BARLOW (NOT THAT LOU BARLOW)
OF TRUE NATURE TALKS TO ROCKWiRED
ABOUT HiS THRiLLiNG EP FEELS LiKE CENTURiES
STEPPiNG UP WITH A POSiTiVE MESSAGE
AND STANDiNG APART FORM THAT OTHER GUY
iNTERViEWED BY BRiAN LUSH
ROCKWIRED spoke with LOU BARLOW of TRUE NATURE over the phone. Here is how it went.
How does it feel having this EP out and having an LP that will be available in a mere matter of months?
Itís a very challenging time because so much is happening but it has been the best year of my life musically. It took a minute to release FEELS LIKE CENTURIES. It came out in January and I had a full promotion team behind me and as a result we were able to get some great radio play in Canada and a lot of other things have happened as well. It was staggering to get to work with TONY LEVIN, AARON COMESS and GERRY LEONARD. They are all just world class legends in their own right. It was staggering to gather these guys and get into a studio. Itís funny because everyone at the studio was looking at me and going ĎWho are you and how did you get all of these people together?í In my first session with these guys, I was totally in shock, but for the second round I felt like I was a little more in the pocket with them. It was two years ago that we did the recording for that EP and in August we reconvened at an even bigger and more prestigious studio in Woodstock and have laid down all of the material for the next album that will come out whenever it comes out. Itís slated for January 2010.
In listening to the EP a it seems like this project TRUE NATURE has a very singular vision to it Ė that it is not necessarily a band. Is that the case or no?
That is the case. The singular vision is mine. FEELS LIKE CENTURIES is the second release from TRUE NATURE and what Iím most happy about is that I have created a sound and a message and a guitar style that has been performed by two fairly different groups of musicians and still sounds instantly recognizable. All I can add to that is that this last recording with these incredibly wonderful people is so gratifying. I spent a lot of time working on these songs and then to get into a studio with these musicians who have taken things up to this amazing level is amazing. . By the way - BRIAN LUSH - What kind of a name is that?
Itís my real name.
Oh really! Itís not a stage name.
Itís a great stage name but I was born with it.
Well with that being said, my mom named me LOU BARLOW.
Oh the confusion! Talk about any frustrations you might have about that.
Iím sick of it man! Iíve learned this bizarre thing which Iíve just now started to learn that most LOU BARLOW fans donít even know who he is. The singular vision of TRUE NATURE is not underground, backwards folk music. The other LOU BARLOW is a fairly angst-y guy and we look incredibly different but I get various contacts thinking that I am him and that is why I am TRUE NATURE. I donít put out that LOU BARLOW is doing a gig. I put out that TRUE NATURE is doing a gig. Our musical visions couldnít be more different and that gets little frustrating. There is a dualistic reason for why I came up with TRUE NATURE and one of those reasons is to avoid that name confusion but the other is that TRUE NATURE is always trying to put a positive impetus against the challenges of present-day life.
Talk about how music started for you as an individual.
I liked ELTON JOHN quite a bit as a kid. One of the new songs that will be coming out -- which should be called ONE SOUL - has a little bit of his influence. Early in life, I felt the incredible power that music plays in everyoneís life. I think we see that more and more these days because there has been an increase in the breakdown of genres. Whatever kind of music you like, there is a genre for it. That being said, I donít definitively know how to classify TRUE NATURE but I think music has always played a role in peopleís lives and I found myself doing everything as a kid. I had a drum set, I was in an out of bands. Thanks to the advent of FACEBOOK it has been really thrilling to reconnect with some of my eighth grade band members and college band members. Iíve been doing music my whole life and that includes classical music too. I just think that as the world has become a more accessible and simultaneously a more challenging place I feel all the more drawn to do rock music and to have this thought-provoking and positive message behind it. Iíd like for TRUE NATURE to be that vehicle that brings that sort of message into the world.
Explain the creative process to me in terms of songwriting.
Wow! I wish I could sit down and talk with people about that everyday. I have a meditative side to my life and I tend to start most songs from a place of silence but beyond that, it gets pretty hectic. As soon as I get up from meditating, I get up and crack open a bottle of wine which all of the guys in the studio will testify to. The bottom line is that I will sincerely let the song do whatever it has to do to pass through me. It could take five violent minutes or it could take ten meditative years. Iíve experienced both at this point. I donít think Iím highly prolific yet but I think that when I release a song I put a ton of thought and non-thought into it. I think Iím writing from a more personal standpoint than I ever have before. I think the FEELS LIKE CENTURIES stuff had a lot of personal perspective and I could go through each song but I think that the next record is by far even more personal. I think I have a life long goal of getting more personal in my songs. With that said, TRUE NATURE is often writing songs that reflect on current day news and the state of the world. Iím Sagittarian and Iím always speaking in a global way from my gut before I speak in a personal way. In my songs, Iím trying to bring things together that Iíve seen in the news and tons of personal experiences together and I try to find a thread through it all and write a song about it.
In keeping with that theme of becoming more personal as a songwriter what songs off of FEELS LIKE CENTURIES stand out for you the most and why?
The first track TRUTH I HAVE TO STEEL Ė the chorus of which I have been performing at half of the time Ė is about being in a group setting and no one in the group can quite put their finger on the pulse of what is really important in that moment. I think that we all know that could turn into violence and sometimes it can turn into frustration. Sometimes it can turn into a free form of expression. TRUTH I HAVE TO STEEL is about that individual in a collective that knows what is important and is able to voice it. Itís about looking around and knowing that nobody else knows what is going on in a particular moment but you do. That one is personal and still aims at universal experiences. The third track MY FREEDOM LIES BEHIND THE SUN is super-personal to me in an angst-y, frustrated sense. Itís a similar theme but at this point, the theme is turned to personal rage. That song was written during the previous administration.
That was the perfect time to get political.
The song just rocks and it goes to a lot of places in just one song. Iím actually working on a radio edit for it because in the short attention span world that we live in, the song is five minute and forty-six seconds. I guess that is a little too long for people. There is a real pop gem inside of that song and it is the coolest chorus that Iíve ever written.
Since I havenít heard your first EP, what changed between that EP and this one sonically.
Iíve managed to create a TRUE NATURE sound that is definable yet different somehow. Putting a band together is a great work in itself. Usually producers are credited for everything that they do in the studio but the main thing they do is put the right people together. We just had the very good fortune that AARON and I hit it off and he knew TONY and I knew GERRY LEONARD and even those guys were happy to work together. They had actually tried working together a bunch of times and TRUE NATURE provided that opportunity. Sonically, this collection of musicians helps me a lot to realize my vision. Iím very grateful for that. Now that my vision is clear sonically, if I ever move on to a touring band everyone will have a pretty clear idea of what Iím going for. Another huge leap between the two recordings is that for the first one, I had a songwriting partner and with FEELS LIKE CENTURIES, the songs are all mine.
Is any of the material from FEELS LIKE CENTURIES going to be represented on this forthcoming LP or will it all be new material.
A radio mix for MY FREEDOM LIES BEHIND THE SUN will be there but other than that it will be all new material. The new record which is still untitled has songs that I think are a lot more to the point and were written faster. They reflect an inspired momentum of TRUE NATURE getting off and running in 2009.
Talk about the artwork of the EP. Itís very striking!
That was an interesting thing. Because I get so lost in the process of writing songs, I didnít really have an image in mind for the CD cover but we had raised the bar pretty high on the music side that I really wanted the imagery to be special. I had been trying out different things myself. I come from a family of visual artists and I was getting frustrated with myself because I could not come up with a solid concept that would support all of those songs. It was this time last year at CMJ in New York that I got invited to a Brooklyn show of a band that had come from California called OSLO. We exchanged CDís and their CD cover just blew me away. The artwork was created by GLENN WEXLER so I got in touch with him. He is really an innovative artist. According to him he creates ďimprobable realitiesĒ and he is the master of digitally altered images. It turns out the GLENN is kind of a long time fan of some of the musicians that I have recorded with. He liked the music and was enthused to strike a deal that I could afford. We talked for an extended period of time about my songs what kind of concept he could come up with. One day he contacted me and he was like ĎHere is your concept and here is what this is all about.í
Iíve always been a fan of album art and a lot of people donít do it anymore.
Exactly! Weíve gone from the album to the CD to the download and album art has been lost in the shuffle. Rock n roll is about a comprehensive experience and not just some cheap headphones.
With that being said, are there any plans for videos for any of the songs?
For the new recording, we were filming in the studio so there will be a video released for one the songs. At the moment Iím funding TRUE NATURE and am looking for a really good record label and that would help to make some of those things possible.
Talk about the benefits and the detriments of being indie.
The first thing that you love is the freedom because you can do anything you want. Iíve listened to a lot of music in my life and the musicians that I work with know music very well and we naturally fall into a sound that is going to graspable despite itís uniqueness, but Iíve also seen bands go the indie route and not get too far so at the same time, Iím looking for the industry at the same time.
What would you like a person to come away with after theyíve heard this CD?
For five songs, it covers a lot f ground. Even with the order of the songs it was set up to make a person feel like they are on some kind of journey. You could feel a lot of things. You should feel inspired, and your should feel refreshed that real music is alive and well and that the lyrics go a little deeper and provoke people to think about things that they normally wouldnít think about. Iíd like to think the people cold connect with anyone just by listening to these songs.