Interview with Nate Newton, bassist for Converge October 14, 2004. The Pound SF
I called Nate's cell at exactly six-thirty, and he came outside through a phalanx of gates and staff to meet me. As we walked away from the venue to find some privacy, we joked about how scary the new 15 foot high fences surrounding the Pound were. "It looks like a concentration camp,"I remarked. "Like the Pound-chwitz," offered Nate. We were off to a good start. Later, on stage, Nate was on fire, rocking the bass and quipping wildly between songs, at one point opining tounge-in-cheekly that "Life is supposed to suck all the time."
Punkbands.com: What do you think of the current crop of successful hardcore bands, like Bleeding Through, Atreyu, who've become ubiquitous in the scene in such a short time?
Nate: Honestly I don't think of them. I mean I know the guys in Bleeding Through, they're great guys, you know, not really the scene I'm into, but I really admire their work ethic the amount of time and effort they put into their music. I wish that more people in hardcore had the work ethic that those guys do.
Punkbands.com: Are you worried that as Converge becomes more well known, shows will become less fun as more people come to witness rather than participate?
Nate: Yes. (laughs) At the same time I'm happy that people who aren't necessarily into hardcore are showing up and kind of learning about it. It's pretty cool. And honestly I don't think our shows have that much of a chance of losing the violent aspect. There's always the ADD high school dropout kids who are into us.
Punkbands.com: Converge has been lauded as a leader in the hardcore scene. Who would want to be a follower? Do you envision an underground of equals, or will there always be hierarchy?
Nate: Hardcore is a people's medium. It's for everyone. That leader crap, that doesn't mean anything to me, man. I'm just a dude in a band. Anyone can do this. As a matter of fact, the other day at a show a kid came up to me and was like "Oh, can I get an autograph?" He was about fourteen, and it was really weird for me. The scene I'm coming from, if you saw someone doing that you were like, "Oh, what a rock star. Screw that guy!" you know? But I didn't want to bum him out so I gave him an autograph, but then I said to him, "I want you to do me a favor, all right? When we come back here, you have a band. All right? Start a band, and when we come back I want you guys to play with us. That would be way cooler than me giving you an autograph." He said, "Yeah man, it would!" (laughs)
Punkbands.com: What do you think is the biggest difference for Converge as you've progressed from being a local Boston band, playing the ICC and basements and halls, to an international touring band? Do you have different relationships with friends you meet on tour, meet different kinds of people?
Nate: Honestly, to me it's not that much different. Probably the only difference is that when it's not in Boston our guest list is smaller. I mean, they're all just good shows, it's all the same to me, I just have fun.
Punkbands.com: Jacob Bannon has Deathwish Inc. and Atomic Id!, Kurt Ballou owns and operates God City Studios in Salem, MA. What do you do when you're not touring with Converge?
Nate: I play music a lot. I have two other bands; Old Man Gloom and Doomriders. When I'm not on tour, I work for a landscaping company.
Nate: And it sucks. (laughs)
Punkbands.com: My friend Adam is going to see Converge tonight for the first time ever. What would you tell him to describe what he's going to see tonight?
Nate: Violent? Maybe? I'd tell him not to stand right up front and maybe just kind of hang out on the side if he doesn't want to get hurt. Not that violence is a good thing. Converge doesn't endorse it. It just seems to be par for the course.
Punkbands.com: Is Converge a political band? Do you see much hope in the coming election with two almost identical candidates running against each other?
Nate: Define political band.
Punkbands.com: Uhh..... You don't take a stance on any major political issues directly in your music, but are you guys-
Nate: This is going to sound cheesy, but I believe that the personal is the political. We're not standing on stage preaching about politics, but i feel that being honest; honest musically, honest emotionally, being ethical with our business practices, I think is a very political thing to do. I feel like we're advocates for free speech, creativity in music. I don't think we're endorsing anyone, but I did donate money to the Kerry campaign, even though I don't like him. The lesser of two evils.
Punkbands.com: Were any of you, being from Boston, offended when in the last debate Bush persistantly called Kerry a "Massachusetts Liberal"?
Nate: I cannot be offended by George W. Bush anymore. That guy's just a fucking idiot. And to be honest, we didn't even see the debates. We were on stage when the debates were going on.
Punkbands.com: What do you think Converge offers to women?
Nate: My great looks? No, bad joke. I don't know, the same thing we would offer to anyone else. It's just music and creativity. It's an outlet for your emotions as much as it is ours. What did you mean by that?
Punkbands.com: I've just seen a very marked difference in attitude between Jane Doe and You Fail Me. Jane Doe wasn't anti-woman or anything, but it had a very different outlook from You Fail Me which references the "strength of widows," as one of a few very pro-women lyrics.
Nate: Jane Doe was definitely not anti-woman. That record was about relationships, male or female. The title "Jane Doe" is more a metaphor for anyone in your life really. Jane Doe was really pointing the finger, like, "You fucked up." You Fail Me is, well, I didn't write the lyrics, but it focuses a little more inward, like, "Okay, here's where I messed up." And then looking around you and saying, "Okay, here's where everyone around me is messed up and it's screwing up all of our lives." So yeah. What that has to do with women, I can't tell you.
Punkbands.com: Were you shocked at all winning the Boston Phoenix poll for best local metal and hardcore act, despite not having released a new studio album in three years? Were you surprised at the sheer number of votes Converge received?
Nate: I was surprised, simply because we never win those things, it's usually bands that have no bearing on anything. We've never really gotten that much support from the local press in that respect. It kind of surprised me, but at the same time, I was like, oh, whatever. It doesn't matter. it's just some stupid thing in a newspaper, it doesn't matter.
Punkbands.com: all right Nate. Thanks a lot. See you later tonight.
Nate: Thank you man.
Converge's new record, You Fail Me is out now on Epitaph Records. Go get it.
By Greg Weissel