photo by Ryan Renteria
intro by Michael Todd | Q&A by Steven Ashford
There seems to be a bit more to the story than what Nato Bardeen is letting on. In answering the questions below, he intimates that his band, The Drowning Men, isn't any grand idea.
Yet, with a sonic space that seems to stretch forever like the roiling waters of an ocean, this Oceanside, Calif., group is working on something bigger than themselves. And when Bardeen says the best tattoo in the band is the one carved by a guitar string, well, you have to wonder what else goes on.
Tonight, the band makes a stop in Omaha at The Sydney for a free show starting at 9 p.m. with Lightning Bug opening. Read on for a brief look into the goings-on of The Drowning Men, and come by the show for more.
Hear Nebraska: You say that you like theatrical melodies in songs. How do you portray that with what you write?
Nato Bardeen: It's not like we're trying to write theatrically. It's just what comes out of our tunes. We seem to move towards big buildups with drums and vocals. Also, the sweet sad chords of the minors.
HN: There seems to be a lot going on within the music. Describe the process of blending in fragments of folk, punk electronic and Americana into one cohesive sound.
NB: I never really think about trying to blend or interweave styles of music. Honestly, I just work on riffs for days until one pops out, and then I work on it, then the band. If it comes out with a hint of punk, that's only because when I first started writing songs they were punk riffs. Same goes with the folkier side of us, too.
HN: Your album All of the Unknown comes out this summer. Can you describe the route that you took and the sounds you harnessed to produce this piece?
NB: It took us a year to finish it mainly because we were touring so much the last year and a half. Our producer Billy Mohler was great at helping us with our tones and weird sounds throughout the album.
HN: How does it stand out or push beyond the material that has been previously released for The Drowning Men?
NB: It's a little more mature in the songwriting compared to the previous albums. There's more dynamics and more harmonies.
HN: There seems to be a big fascination with the sea in Drowning Men. If your ship was sinking at sea, what would be the ideal tune to calm the blunders and swells of the conundrum?
NB: "Suzanne" by Leonard Cohen.
HN: Who has the best tattoo in the band and what kind of story does it tell?
NB: I think (keyboardist) Gabe (Messer) does, scratched into his arm, I think with a guitar string. It says "sound checks and loud sex."
Steven Ashford is a Hear Nebraska intern. He'll take you down to his place near the river. You can hear the boats go by, you can spend the nights beside him. Reach Steven at firstname.lastname@example.org.