When Nathan Loughran isn’t busy fulfilling his role as Campus Director at SAE London, he performs with his band, The Reverse. The outfit was recently announced as one of the acts that will be performing at Standon Calling festival in Hertfordshire 25 - 28 July.
The headline acts are Rag‘n’Bone Man, Wolf Alice, Nile Rodgers & Chic, with special guests Friendly Fires. This diverse range of artists promises a festival spanning multiple genres, with other acts on the bill ranging from ‘70s rockers, Echo & the Bunnymen, to Kate Nash.
We caught up with Nathan to find out more about his band and their current musical escapades.
Could you explain what ‘90's-style literate guitar-pop’ means?
Haha! I don’t know exactly. It was a phrase a journalist used in a review. It made us laugh but I guess we thought it had something to it so we added it in our bio and some press releases for a while. I’m not sure what the reviewer was thinking of, though I suppose I think of bands like Pulp, Belle & Sebastian, Pavement… maybe Neutral Milk Hotel. All bands I like.
Who are your main influences in terms of lyrics?
Leonard Cohen is probably my favourite lyricist of all time. I remember hearing ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ for the first time and becoming obsessed. A friend had given it to me on a cassette. I rewound the song and played it over and over again, trying to decipher its meaning. Something significant has happened but exactly what is unclear. I think that’s his genius in that the specific details remain elusive, mysterious, yet the emotion is very tangible.
I also go through phases where I listen to nothing but Bob Dylan. He’s almost the opposite of Leonard Cohen in that he’s nowhere near as economic with language, but nobody paints a picture with words in the way Dylan does.
More recent acts that I really rate as lyricists include Billy Bragg, Anais Mitchell, Conor Oberst, Emmy the Great, Q-Tip, Amanda Palmer, Mitski, Stephin Merritt, Jeffrey Lewis… to name just a few.
Who are your main influences in terms of guitarwork?
Well, lots of people really. Growing up, people like Dave Navarro (Jane’s AddIction), John Squire (Stone Roses), Johnny Marr (The Smiths), Joey Santiago (Pixies), Bernard Butler (Suede) were all influential, yet I don’t think I sound like any of them really.
Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison have a lovely laid back guitar style that I think lots of bands have learnt from.
Recently when we’ve been working on songs I’ve been thinking of Motown and Ska and even Dub styles of guitar playing as well as traditional rock, it’s not always overt but it’s in there somewhere and shapes elements of what we do.
Your vocal style reminds me a lot of Jarvis Cocker in that the listener feels that they are being sung a story. Do you think that attending University in Sheffield, where Pulp are from, rubbed off on you at all?
Definitely. Being at Sheffield at that time was very exciting. We’d sometimes go to the Washington Pub, which was owned by Nick Banks (Pulp drummer). Although I didn’t feel that Sheffield was all about Pulp at that time. I think Jarvis had already moved to London. There were bands like the Longpigs and Babybird just emerging and seeing them play small venues at the height of their powers was very inspiring.
What is your favourite lyric of all time?
This is a tough question and one that would change depending on the day or time you caught me. So… I’m going to give you two. From ‘So Long Marianne’ by Leonard Cohen I love the line:
“I’m standing on a ledge and your fine spider’s web, is fastening my ankle to a stone”.
The other line that springs to mind is the opening line from ‘Desolation Row’ by Bob Dylan, particularly because our guitarist Sam was talking about it just the other day: “They're selling postcards of the hanging, they're painting the passports brown”. Very evocative.
Do you share the songwriting duties at all?
We do. I’ll come in with a song that might be just a very sketchy idea or sometimes a completed song, but the others will then shape or change it in ways that take it somewhere else altogether.
Teresa also plays in The Amber Bugs, and you perform solo as Nat the Hammer. How do you juggle your commitment to The Reverse with other projects?
Nat the Hammer is a solo project that I actually started many years ago in Sheffield. It’s basically a place for all the songs that don’t fit in with The Reverse, these are usually more wordy, more lo-fi, stripped down acoustic type stuff. It was also the name I went under when I hosted the Under the Influence live events, that have now morphed into a regular podcast. I do have a solo Nat the Hammer album recorded, I’m just waiting for the right time to release it and play some gigs. I’m pretty busy with The Reverse for now.
Teresa, however, manages amazingly well to juggle things. She plays gigs and releases music regularly with The Amber Bugs, but as well as this she also performs with Buswell’s pop up Orchestra. She’s a regular member, but they add additional musicians very often on the day of the gig! It’s great!
Do you think it is important for musicians to have multiple creative outlets?
I think it depends on the individual and if they feel the need for more than one creative outlet. Creativity can manifest itself in lots of different ways.
Do you have any new releases in the pipeline at the moment?
Yes, we’re just finishing the new album from The Reverse. The release date is yet to be decided upon and we’ll probably put out another song or two first, but hopefully it should be out around the end of Summer
Where is your favourite venue to perform in?
The Boogaloo in Highgate deserves a mention as I used to run the Under the Influence events there and I had some great gigs there both solo and with The Reverse. As a band, The Cavern in Liverpool was a lot of fun. We’ve also enjoyed the Dublin Castle in Camden over the years, the sound has always been good there. We had an excellent single launch party at a tiny venue called the Harrison which we loved. The 12 bar club was also great, both as a band and solo. I used to play sometimes at the regular Anti-Folk festivals they had on there, which were great!
Have you got any gigs lined up before your festival slot in July?
We’re in the process of booking some now… so watch this space!
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