Nathan Williams has put together a compilation called Banding Together for Support Act, through Backburner Records which is a DIY label. They are also a member of TV Dinners who contributed a song to the 18 track album with funds aiming to help musicians and the like struggling during the times that 2020 has provided the music industry.
Nathan is speaking here to radionotes…
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IMAGE CREDIT: Bandcamp
In the mix of the album: Chelsea Manor’s ‘Lotion’, Peak Park’s ‘Insides’, Honest Dan’s ‘Date Night’ and Cirrus Crown’s ‘The Hardest Truth’ to name just a few of the cuts.
SHOW NOTES: Nathan Williams
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Feature Guest: Nathan Williams of TV Dinners/Banding Together for Support Act
- Banding Together for Support Act (Compilation)
- SupportACT (Offical Site)
- Lotion – Chelsea Manor (Official Music Video)
- CMJ New Music Monthly (Google Books – Archive)
- Blunt Magazine (Official Website)
- Bandcamp waiving Fees in March 2020 (Archive)
- The Pelly Bar (Official Site)
- Young Street Supper Club (Official Site)
- No Getting On The Beers (Guardian News – YouTube)
- Backburner Records (Facebook)
- Bleeding Knees Club (Bandcamp)
- Live At The Triffid – The Smith Street Band (Bandcamp)
- The Gloom In The Corner (Bandcamp)
- TV Dinners (Official Wesbite)
- Hypochondriac (EP) – TV Dinners (Bamdcamp)
- Run (Bandcamp)
- Burger Records (Bandcamp)
- Burger Revolution (Official Site)
- Isolation Compilation [Place-mark will link once released]
- FIDLAR (Official Site)
- Western State Hurricanes (Bandcamp)
- The Long Winters (Bandcamp)
- Harvey Danger (Official Site – Archive) Flagpole Sitta (Official Music Video)
- The Long Winters – Full Performance (Live on KEXP)
- Banding Together for Support Act (Album) – Compilation (Bandcamp)
[Added May 2020] New TV Dinners’ single: Shame
- Shame (Single)
Next Episode: Ange Lavoipierre
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Theme/Music: Martin Kennedy and All India Radio
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First version provided by REV team member Helen F – check to audio before quoting wider
John Murch: Nathan Williams, welcome to radionotes.
Nathan Williams: Good day John, thanks for having me, mate.
John Murch: Let’s run through the nuts and bolts in this next 25, 30 minutes or so of what’s been happening. Obviously, it’s a compilation of 18 bands, that have got together in less than 24 hours, to put together a compilation to support SupportACT. Where were you at, before you decided to do this compilation? What was that spark?
Nathan Williams: Well, initially I was just trying to figure out how I can support the local music industry, or even local venues, even before they had to shut down all the venues. There was a little bit of a weird time there where you could go out, but you couldn’t and they could have bands, but no one wanted to risk anyone getting sick or anything like that. I was thinking maybe, I could put together a charity gig for a local venue or something like that. But I realised probably, the best step would be to, maybe put together an album, possibly. I’ve always really enjoyed compilation albums. And I thought this might be a good idea. Put as many bands as I can on there and then reach as many people as possible.
John Murch: And through Bandcamp, you’re not limited per se, by the length of an album, like the 10, 11 track scenario as well. But let’s firstly, talk about this interest of yours Nathan, of the compilation album. I grew up in the year of the CMJ compilation, which was attached to a magazine and it literally went from A to Z of the musical genre. Where was your first interest of the compilation music release?
Nathan Williams: Yeah, probably looking back, maybe a magazine called Blunt magazine, which was Australian punk and hardcore bands. And you’d always get a CD with that, with a bunch of bands, some bands you’ve heard some you haven’t. It’s even cool looking back now and I’ve still got a bunch of those CDs and I go, “Oh, that’s that band I really liked there.” I look back and that’s when I might of firstly heard them and gone from there and obviously, purchased their proper albums and keep looking for more stuff. Sussing out all their different releases, but maybe in terms of… Yeah, I guess, it’s like the DIY aesthetic, where bands come together and especially in the punk scene, you hear a lot of things, charity albums and stuff like that. I guess that’s the main influence.
John Murch: In terms of the algorithm that ends up being put on the streaming services, for example, where people might think, “Well, there’s a compilation of different bands and tunes” But it’s still some sort of algorithm, some sort of computer interpretation. Here, you’ve created a release of 18 songs that do reach, maybe not all the genres, but do have a gamut of genre within them. Let’s talk about some of the bands on there. Were they as receptical, as I would think they would be for putting their music forward?
Nathan Williams: Yeah. Everyone was really keen. I personally messaged a couple of my friends bands, because I knew that they would probably be keen. I did a couple of different posts and different blogs and forums and stuff. And people were just emailing me all the time. And a lot of bands were just putting their hand up and offering a track and going, “Look, if it doesn’t suit it, don’t worry but it would be a privilege to be on it.” And it was more of the case of looking at putting on as many bands as possible. I didn’t worry about genres. It’s really, the more people that are going to see it the better.
John Murch: And in terms of flow, you’ve achieved what many people can’t on these kinds of compilations, as much as they try it. And that is some consistency in terms of listenability. Were you aware of that? Was it something you thought about before putting it out?
Nathan Williams: Yeah, definitely. We spoke about before, how I had probably less than 24 hours to put it together, so I could get it out, so we could take advantage of Bandcamp waiving their revenue share and their fees. It was pretty rushed to put together, but I did take a bit of time and try to put a little bit of flow in there, so it’s not going from a really poppy song into a really heavy hardcore song, try and make it as listenable as possible. But I think anyone listening, understood it’s just a variety of bands coming together for the same cause, raising money for SupportACT.
John Murch: And a bit of a reminisce of what live music used to sound like finishing our live track as well.
Nathan Williams: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. We initially released, I think maybe 15 or 16 tracks, then I had a couple of friends that was a little late to get it to me before that 24 hours of Bandcamp waiving their share. But it was the point. It meant a lot to pretty much all the bands who put their music on it, because a lot of bands, a lot of artists now are out of work.
John Murch: We’re talking about the changing environment in the year 2020, where the virus that won’t be named, pretty much decided that live music, in fact, a lot of things in our lives won’t go ahead. And this is basically, the bread and butter of a lot of musicians to do the live and to engage with their audience. What’s the vibe you’re getting there in Frankston in Victoria in Australia at the moment?
Nathan Williams: Well, we have pretty select venues down in Frankston. There’s only a couple that would put on live music and we have the Pelly Bar, which we get some pretty big acts coming through. I like to head down to the local Young Street Supper Club. And they always have local bands. My band just played there a couple of months ago, which was good fun. But in terms of live music, I think personally, my friends and I, we’ve just been missing going out on the weekends. Grabbing a bite to eat or a beer and watch some live music. Not that I took it for granted, but yeah, that’s all. I really enjoyed doing that and that’s all I feel like doing at the moment, but unfortunately we can’t.
John Murch: Yeah. The Victorian Premier, who runs that particular state part of Australia is pretty keen on his beers, it seems and letting people eventually get back to them. But just not yet. I want to talk about the music though. What do you think as a musician is the importance of releasing music during these times? A lot of people aren’t, deciding not to, but what’s your view on that?
Nathan Williams: Yeah. I think that’s a tough one. There’s so much information and stuff being released at the moment. People sharing every possible thought that they have on the situation, which I think is great, but there is a lot of information out there. I know a lot of bands that are releasing stuff at the moment, they already had it planned and it… Yeah, people are listening, but we’re all a bit concerned, I guess, maybe even just getting by, you know what I mean? Even financially or just the basics of looking after yourself. Sometimes the last thing you’re looking into is new releases, but at the same time, I think it’s good. Everyone’s quite bored at home. So, people are pretty keen to consume TV or music or books or anything like that.
John Murch: And also from the creative point of view, the issue of actually sharing it live and not being able to at this particular stage, whether or not it’s relevant in terms of releasing music, if you can’t tour it live at the same time.
Nathan Williams: I know a lot of bands, they’re doing their single launches and their EP launches and album launches. And I don’t know, maybe we took it a bit for granted back in the day, but I think maybe, bands are going to look into newer ways of promoting. There’s always been the standard social media stuff, but maybe, compilations and stuff like we put together for SupportACT, maybe that’s a good way of getting things through to people, with our label Backburner. I think we’re looking at the next stage, which might be, maybe putting a compilation together of band songs that were written and recorded in isolation. See what the common themes are going to be and go from there.
John Murch: What output are you seeing from those being inside?
Nathan Williams: Well, in terms of local bands, I see a lot of bands are a lot of older bands. I see a lot of them re-releasing some of their albums that haven’t even been on the streaming services before. It might’ve been released before streaming and Spotify and all that, was in existence. I think that’s really cool. It’s good to listen back to albums that personally, you might not even have, because they were released on CD or something back in the day, limited releases and stuff like that. But now I’m thinking a lot more people are stuck at home. They want something to do. They’re going to put together a song and stuff like that. I’m going to do a bit of a call out to local bands pretty soon and see if anyone wants to give anything to the next compilation. And I think you might see some songs about the virus and the complete shutdown and isolation, but I think we don’t want to give all our power to that sort of thing. I think there’s always some other emotions to express.
John Murch: Nathan Williams is our special guest. We’re talking about compilation called Banding Together for SupportACT, a compilation. SupportACT is an organisation looking after, or keeping an eye out for those members in the music entertainment industry, who definitely would not be doing too well in these current times. What’s your involvement or your engagement with SupportACT been over the years, if at all?
Nathan Williams: I probably only really heard about it maybe a year or two ago. I think just when everything started shutting down, I definitely had them in the back of my mind thinking, this could be a good charity to help support and also a good place to send any of my friends or anyone that is struggling who have lost all their income. I know they do a bunch of counseling, they also have financial aid and everything like that. I think it’s a great starting point for a lot of artists if they are struggling, whether be during current predicament or anytime during the year.
John Murch: You’re on the line with us now, Nathan, I mean it very sincerely. How are you?
Nathan Williams: Yeah. Very good. Thanks. Yeah. Just trying to stay busy and trying to stay active and keep my head up and just go from there.
John Murch: What’s helping you through this isolation type period that we’re currently going through?
Nathan Williams: Probably, the main thing I’ve always relied on even before this time, is getting out every day, exercising. I’m sort of struggling, I like to do Pilates and I like to go to the gym, but I can’t do that at the moment. But I’ve been out on my push bike pretty much nearly every day, out in the sunshine. I’m out in the fresh air and that’s really been helping. And I guess, music has always been there for me. And I guess, catching up on bands that I haven’t listened to their latest release or something like that. Or even, I collect a lot of different bands, I like getting every song possible and I like going back through the internet and trying to find some early songs and stuff like that. I’ve been getting up to date with my collections, I guess, just trying to stay in contact with friends and family is always important.
John Murch: And what interesting discoveries, musically have you found during these times?
Nathan Williams: At the moment, I’ve been listening a lot to Bleeding Knees Club, Alex Wall and all these other projects, he’s had a lot of projects in the years. I’ve been going back and even some songs that haven’t been released from them, there has just been live videos on YouTube. I like to rip the audio of that and have a bit of an archive in that respect. And then also even through that, Bandcamp we had 24 hours waiving their revenue share, I got a lot of cool albums through that to try to support a lot of local bands. I got the latest Smith Street album. They did a live album, that was good to download. Also, some other bands, Gloom In The Corner, I downloaded their new album and I’m just trying to support as many bands as I can.
John Murch: I would suspect my listener would understand the importance of buying the physical, the merchandise of the music from the actual stores, not just streaming. But I want to ask you, as an artiste who relies on that particular income stream, when it comes to your music, how important is it for people to actually physically buy one of those 50 TV Dinners CDs, or to actually pay for it on Bandcamp?
Nathan Williams: Yeah, I’ve always personally enjoyed the tangible objects. I love buying cassettes and vinyl and I still buy heaps of CDs. Personally, for me, I love the quality and I love the idea of sitting down and listening to an album, focusing on that album and just relaxing. I think with my band in particular, just being on a compilation tape years ago, which is just awesome to buy something physical. It was hot pink and everything. I loved it. I bought a couple of copies of myself, because I’m just a fan of that type of format. In terms of CDs and vinyl, I’m hoping, when we’re all back to playing live gigs and going out, I think a lot of people are going to be keen to support, not only the venues, what they do, but also the local bands and stuff like that.
John Murch: Let’s look at the caliber of the bands that are on your compilation, that you’ve put together with your mates called Banding Together for SupportACT. Who can you suggest, maybe don’t play favorites, but who should we be having a bit of listen out for on this particular release?
Nathan Williams: As I said before, there’s such a wide range of genres. You can get pretty heavy there, here and there.
John Murch: Are you talking about Run there, which is a band I’ve never heard of? Who sound very much like The Mark of Cain?
Nathan Williams: Yeah. My mate, Jack, who helped me put together this compilation, that’s his band and yeah, they’re awesome. Really quite hardcore, but I love all the different changes of the genres on there. A lot of the bands, it’s even hard to put a genre onto them. Everyone just does their own thing, which I love.
John Murch: People are probably thinking, “Well, really I can just go and listen to music.” But what would be the draw card in actually bringing their ears to a compilation like this? This is your chance to do a bit of an elevator pitch for it.
Nathan Williams: I think everyone likes to help other people. And I think the trade off with this compilation, is you can hit two birds with one stone. You can be supporting a charity like SupportACT, one of the only charities that does help musicians and music workers that are going through a rough time obviously, during this time with them being unable to play any gigs or have any real income. And I think the trade off would be, you spend a bit of your money, you can help the charity, but you can also get 18 awesome bands, that you can listen to in your own time and how you might find your next favorite band. Who knows?
John Murch: We’re currently joined by Nathan Williams. He is one of the spokespeople for the Banding Together for SupportACT compilations available on Bandcamp. If you’re looking for it, head along to Bandcamp, put those details in. They’re now probably taking a little bit of the revenue from it, but it still will support SupportACT in the long run. Nathan, in our final 10 together, can we have a chat regarding whilst you’re on line, Backburner records? Because, I believe they would have a philosophy very much tied into what you’ve done with this compilation, at the very least do it yourself. When was Backburner records first established?
Nathan Williams: Well, my band mate, Jake and I, we put together Backburner records, I think back in 2016, when we were releasing our band TV Dinners released a demo and stuff like that. I guess, it was a bit of a fake label at the start, something to release on, that looked a little bit more professional. Now, I don’t know, we put on a show maybe two years ago now. We did a show in collaboration with one of our favorite record labels in America, Burger records, which are very big on DIY themselves. They did a thing. They do it every year. It’s called Burger Revolution, where they get people to run gigs under their Burger banner, all over the world, all in different countries, all on the same date. We ran a gig in collaboration with them, which was awesome. But since then, we hadn’t really done too much until this compilation. And now everyone seems to be supporting it, it was like, “All right, let’s see what else we can do.” And go from there and try to help other people, or even inspire people to just release music themselves or make their own label.
John Murch: I feel there is a renaissance for the do it yourself record label. I’m not too much across it, but you obviously are within it, despite what’s happening, I guess, globally at the moment, a bit of a fertile ground for DIY.
Nathan Williams: Yeah, definitely. In particular my band, garage rock it works in with the aesthetic, but sometimes it just comes down to that’s all you have. If you want to do a video or you want to put together a zine or you want to put together a compilation, it really all it is, obviously you got to put your time into it, but you just got to do it. Some bands without doing it yourself, you’d never be able to do certain things music videos and stuff like that, because of the price point it is. It’s just nonviable.
John Murch: I see it also gives you that expansiveness to do things as you mentioned, like the zine, but also obviously, the other merchandise that comes as part of that as well, but the creative control, how liberating do you find that as a singer songwriter, musician and also a record labeler?
Nathan Williams: Definitely. I think it’s really important for all artists just being in control with what they’re releasing. And I guess, you got to stay true to yourself as much as you can. I feel even though it is DIY, do it yourself, I’ve changed that recently into do it yourself with your friends, make it a collaboration involve different people, involve different people you know, that do different things. Like, your friend might do graphic design or they might do audio engineering or they might do video film. Get them involved, see what they’re going to offer. And I think it benefits everyone.
John Murch: By the time we release this, it’s quite possible that your isolation recording idea will be out about and the compilation possibly there of, of course we’ll have details in the show notes, if it has eventuated. And I have a very strong feeling in my waters that it will happen, because of the drive that you’ve put forth of doing a release within 24 hours. Seriously, how cool is that? What are you doing, Nathan, whilst you’re in isolation, musically speaking, I should preference it by saying, a lot of musicians are saying, they’re not feeling very creative whilst they’re in isolation. They’re not very connected to their music. How you going about that? What are you creating in isolation?
Nathan Williams: Yeah, that’s really interesting. I think if people, if all they do is music, it probably is a bit of a weird time. They can’t get out and be influenced by all the stuff the world has to offer. Personally, I have a day job, which I love and that does pay the bills behind the scenes, to do the music and you know, unfortunately, obviously, I had to finish up work a couple of weeks ago, but now I’ve had all this time and I can actually put together this label instead of it being like a… We used to joke, it was just a fake record label. I think we’re still going to keep that anyway, but I can put together compilation albums and we can design a website for it now and we can try and get other bands, see if any bands want to release anything through us and help them to distribute it online or organise a physical release. I think, I’ve had so much time to do things. It’s just hard to do one thing at a time.
John Murch: And what about your own musical output? Has that had a bit of a boost during this time of no work and isolation?
Nathan Williams: Oh, yeah. My contribution to the compilation will hopefully be just a song that I’m going to write, to a drum track that I got off… One of my favorite bands called Fiddler, their drummer Max, he put a post out on Instagram, “If anyone wants any drum tracks PM me.” Fiddler was one of my favorite bands in the world. It was awesome to get in contact with him. And I just told him, “Just record a drum track for me, man. I’m going to write the song to it.”
John Murch: That’s another artist just giving up their talent to help out another.
Nathan Williams: Yeah, and I couldn’t believe it. One of my favorite bands, to be able to pretty much write a song with him, it’s awesome. I think, through the power of the internet, you can write a song with someone else. You can still get someone to mix and master your tracks. You can get someone to record a take for one of your songs or add a musical instrument you can’t play or just collaborate together. I think it’s awesome.
John Murch: As you’ve inspired people to get your recording, the compilation there, of Banding Together for SupportACT on Band camp, what have you recently Nathan, got from Bandcamp that we should know about?
Nathan Williams: You should definitely check out a band called, let me get it up quickly. A band called The Western State Hurricanes. And this was the band that John Roderick, he played The Long Winters, they’re from Seattle. And this is his band before that band. And it was really quite… I guess, deep in the nineties when they’re recording it. And it was a whole last album for so long and they’ve just recently come together somehow, put it together and released it. And it’s just an awesome slice of 90s heaven.
John Murch: I’m getting this picture of you Nathan, as being a collector so much as you are, that there’s such a history that you’ll have of these musical groups as well. That may not be anywhere else. That sounds like an exciting environment to be isolated within.
Nathan Williams: I got onto The Long Winters and John Roderick through listening to Harvey Danger, another favorite band of mine. Everyone would probably know their hit Flagpole Sitta, but they had a couple of different albums and they’re all awesome. I’ve gone back and gotten their demo tapes and stuff like that. And then I saw John and The Long Winters do their KEXP session, then they had Sean Nelson from Harvey Danger on it. That was awesome. Tracking back to The Long Winters into The Western State Hurricanes. Just recently in February released their album. But now I’m going back now, they did release a demo tape in the nineties. It’s very hard to find, but I think the file is on a forum, long ago, somewhere. Hopefully some of those links are not dead and still alive. I feel like a detective sometimes, but there’s a lot of history there.
John Murch: Time is about to wrap up. Before we go Nathan, I do want to go back in time. And what first inspired you to take up music?
Nathan Williams: Well, I always used to listen to a lot of music. I listened as a young kid, my dad bought me an iPod, one of the first iPods, when I was maybe eight or nine, but we always were listening to the radio and always singing along to the radio. From that point on, the next step from listening to music and to playing music is I guess, being inspired by bands. And personally that for me was maybe, more garage rock bands and punk bands. I’d listen to the music and I’d go, “Hey, this sounds like something I can do.” And go from there.
Nathan Williams: A big band for me, probably to keep playing music was Bleeding Knees Club from Sydney. I always would be listening to them and their songs would be little punk songs, three, four chords, I was listening to that and going, “I think I can do this.” And then I started the band and we’re pretty lucky. A couple of years ago, TV Dinners got to play with them live. That was a dream come true at the Northcote Social.
John Murch: A nice rounding of the times. I look forward to speaking to you again, hopefully one time Nathan, about TV Dinners and where the band is at, but today was all about the compilation, Banding Together for SupportACT, raising funds for SupportACT. Well over a thousand dollars, a couple thousand dollars, even, I’m sure going towards that very cause in the not too distant future. Nathan Williams. Thanks very much for joining us.
Nathan Williams: No, my pleasure, John, thank you very much, mate.