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INTERVIEW: Israel Nash

There has been an abundance of top quality long players released in 2015, but few have resonated with me quite as strongly as Israel Nash‘s stunning third album, ‘Israel Nash’s Silver Season’, a work of art from a higher plane. The amicable Missourian is rapidly becoming one of my favourite artists, so I was delighted to be granted half an hour to talk to him about the new album, gun crime, and the mighty floods which threatened to scupper recording…

Normally, I play things in the car about half a dozen times before I review them. Yours, I’ve played around thirty times already. For me, it’s easily one of the best albums of 2015, and even now, I’m still picking up on new things I hadn’t noticed before…

Wow, thanks. It was kind of “grown” that way. The intention was to create something that wasn’t just background music, but something that you could get really involved in so that you’d want to hear it again and again. Something that feels bigger than you or me – the ultimate goal was to create something that sounds awesome through headphones so it feels almost like another world.
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You definitely achieved that. It sounds incredible through headphones. Why is it your ‘Silver Season‘?

It’s kind of like a twofold thing. I feel like this is not the ‘golden years’ for me. At this point in my life, I’m just building up years, really. You know, the older you get, seasons and years become a lot more loosely defined. Time is very much a human-created concept and we, as a race, spend far too much time worrying about it. So yeah, it’s not my golden years, but I have a good enough life to call it my silver season!

To what extent do you think the floods, which delayed its inception, infiltrated the music you were creating?

Oh, totally. When the floods came, it was the real deal, man. We were already late starting because Josh lives in New York City and the other guys are scattered all over, but when we did eventually get everyone together, we spent the first four days of recording cleaning up the flood by digging trenches, and clearing out silt and water.  I’m not a control freak or anything, but it was important to me to create the perfect situation where we could be lazy to anything except the music. We worked hard on the environment, but it was a lot of fun too. These guys, to me, they’re like a brotherhood. There’s such camaraderie between us, and when you have that kind of bond and have to work together in such extreme circumstances, then it’s bound to filter through into the music.

So presumably you all live together during recording?

Yeah, and it’s nice because we’re all so comfortable with each other that the guys will get out of the shower and walk past each other with no inhibitions, and I think that’s a really great place to be in; nobody is bothered what any of the other guys might think, and that’s the way it SHOULD be.

You’ve called many different places your home. Do you think that’s an important thing for a serious artist to do?

Definitely, because it changes your perspective of the world and how people live. But, wherever you go, you’ve got to do your thing. Going to different places is not just like taking a hat off and on – you’ve got to really throw yourself into the culture to really experience and appreciate it.

Silver Season‘ feels like a very ‘outdoor’ album…

There’s so much amazing nature in Texas. We have 15 acres down here, and I’m so pleased we managed to capture the space so well. It was important to embrace the expansiveness of the place and not be afraid of it, and I think we achieved that.

Speaking of Texas, I had a friend who moved there after marrying an American girl – they lived in Garland – but things never worked out for him and tragically, nearly two years ago now, he took his own life when he shot himself, at work, in front of his boss. I instantly thought of him when I listened to ‘Parlour Song‘, so there’s a personal resonance there for me too. Is it fair to say that you are no fan of the second amendment?

Well, yeah! You know, in another life, I have a degree in political science, though I have no desire to be political and I’m not offering any solutions. That song was written about the Sandy Hook school shootings a few years ago, where 26 people – most of whom were young children – were shot and killed, and that story really affected me. I’ve spent a lot of time travelling around Europe and what’s become apparent to me is that everyone has their own problems. The difference is that the death by gunshot ratio in my own country is so much greater than anywhere else in the world. Something obviously has to change. I’m sorry to hear about your friend, by the way.

Thanks. One thing about ‘Silver Season’ though, is that, despite the claustrophobia of that particular song and its “tired of the people” segment, it comes across as quite an optimistic album, spiritual even.

Oh, I am most definitely optimistic. And I’m the son of a Southern baptist minister, so I grew up around religion and spiritualism all the time though I had no desire to follow that path myself. I got to a point in my life where I was able to separate religion from God.

So… You’re agnostic?

Sure. I’m pretty philosophical about stuff. I look around me all the time and see the spiritual world of nature and all the things we take for granted, and it just makes me realise how small man is, in the grand scheme of things. It’s not just nature either – sometimes I’ll look at my cell phone and think “How the fuck does THAT work?”  This whole concept of how I’m speaking to you now from the other side of the world, it just blows me away. I’m not sure what it is that I believe in, but it’s sure as hell bigger than you or me.

What are your plans now?

Well, the studio’s a lot more built up now than it was before we recorded the album. It was just a barn before, with no running water, no air conditioning, nothing.  It’s been really kinda cool to have built up this autonomous space away from the house where I can work on new ideas and the other guys can bring THEIR own ideas in too, like being on tour. Somewhere down the road, I’d like to do a psychedelic American rock opera, with no more than four songs and little segways that keep recurring and make people think “Where the hell is THAT coming from?”!

We can only hold our breath in anticipation for that one, as we imagine the sound of Pete Townshend hurriedly, and worriedly rushing desperately back to his ‘Lifehouse’ project in the distance.  Meanwhile, Israel Nash can bask in the glory of knowing that he has created one of the finest albums 2015, perhaps even THE finest, as well as giving a great interview for us here at God Is In The TV, despite the fact that that I can’t read half my bloody notes!

Israel Nash’s Silver Season is released on October 9th 2015.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.