Over the summer we managed to grab a talk with Ryan of NATUR, a thrash / doom / metal act with a very good ear for balancing tension and melody in its compositions. A few years back they gave us the excellent doom vibes of Head of Death and last year they unleashed the thrashier and darker Afternoon Nightmare. If you don’t have your finger on the the pulse of a scene like NWOTHM that moves so fast, you might have missed it, or you might have heard it and run on too soon to the next new shiny thing that was glittering in your social media feed, Well, regardless sometimes it’s worth sticking around and Natur are a band that’ll do just that, so with an upcoming slot at the sold out Hell’s Heroes IV 2022 we think you should check them out.
Could you summarise the last ten years ( is that about right? ) of Natur? Two sentences?
Hello, 10 years of Natur in two sentences haha. Its actually 13 years now. In 2008 Tooth and I moved from RI to Brooklyn and joined forces with The Mexicutioner and Dino Destroyer. Two albums, a live record, a demo and 3 seven inches later were still doing the same shit we were 13 years ago only slightly more skilled.
I see quite a few genre labels and bands used to describe you. How do you feel about the comparisons. Do you think you’ve changed your sound much over time?
When we first started playing shows in NYC a friend of ours overheard some old metalhead outside our show describe us as “Old Metal”. We liked the way that sounded and surprisingly had never heard it as a description for a band. Its tough with so many genres these days. We prefer to just be a metal band. Non of that New wave of whatever shit is popular at the moment.
The cover of Head of Death seems to fit the doomy, misty vibe of that album. Afternoon Nightmare is tighter, more thrashy and with more tension in the song structures. And great 80s cover art! Who deals with the artwork on your releases, and do you choose it before or after the final mix / mastering. Or maybe there is no connection?
I do the artwork and layout of our records. The photos we choose are always a band decision. The photo on the cover of Head of Death was taken by our friend Logan Hill in a RI cemetery. We chose that photo once the record was finished and it fit the aesthetic of the songs we had recorded. Afternoon Nightmares cover was taken in the same cemetery by Ted Harrison but in an abandoned church our friend Pete Booth ( The Cryptkeeper ) looks after. We shot that photo before the record was done. Most of the songs were already written so we knew what we were looking for. Afternoon Nightmare is a little more ominous that Head of death in my opinion.
Would you say Natur has a particular meaning for you, is there a mission for the band?
The mission is to write demented heavy metal songs and enjoy the process in doing so.
Do you find that vinyl sells, for smaller bands? Or does everyone just say how much they love it, but never actually buys it?
Vinyl sells for sure. I think you just need to be smart about how many records you press. Afternoon Nightmare sold pretty well even though we weren’t able to tour the record. We usually sell a lot of merch at shows. We’re pretty lazy about online sales.
I think you’ve played your fair share of gigs – any stand out ones? Any terrible experiences? How was Muskelrock in Sweden? Do you have to take your shirts off to play there, or is that just a myth?
Muskelrock was a definite highlight. We played there twice. Once on the main stage and it was pouring rain. The power went out mid song haha. It was still well received. The second time we played inside a cage in an old circus tent. That was pretty insane. As far as the shirt myth goes. I think there were enough shirtless dudes there to make that statement true. I always prefer the smaller shows though. We used to play a bar in the town Tooth and I grew up in called Billy Goodes. Those shows were always the best. Everyone just crammed into a small room, beer flying everywhere. Can’t beat that
You played at Live Evil back in 2010. How does UK differ from the US? Was there anything that made you think, ‘what the hell…?’?
That was another stand out show. We met a lot of lifelong friends there. The UK fans were maniacs. Really passionate about their heavy metal.We always get way better responses from the crowds outside the US. We were really excited to come back before the world got flipped upside down. Hopefully we’ll be back there someday.
Well, we’ve all had different experiences of this pandemic, not forgetting the last few years of craziness. The anglosphere has been particularly divided recently, with whole families torn apart over various polarising subjects. Have you managed to avoid politics in the last few years? How’s it been for you, and the band? Are you changing anything about your lives, or seeing things in a different way, these days?
Its been an agonizing year and a half. I moved to Austin, Texas right before the pandemic happened. So the band has been laying pretty low lately. We have some cool ideas for new material that will hopefully take shape soon. Were just waiting for all the madness to die down before we hit the stage again.
Traditional Maiden-esque heavy metal can often follow quite a predictable chord pattern, and I think with reasonably good musicanship it’s possible to make a pretty good band in the NWOTHM genre, but just a few bands have the edge and do something that stands out. I think I know what makes you one of the better bands ( I’ll put it in the intro ) ….but what would you say? Maybe you’ve had some feedback?
I’m not sure exactly how to answer this but will try the best I can. I think as a band we never limit ourselves to a certain style or influence. We all listen to a lot of different music and write most of our songs collectively. We also try to maintain a certain darkness and atmosphere when we write. I Think its really easy to find yourself rewrtiing maiden songs ha. We’re also pretty critical about what riffs and arrangements make it into our songs which is one of the reasons it takes us so long to put out new records.
Now we’re opening up again over here ( for how long, I’m not sure ), bands are getting back together to practice for gigs. What are NATUR band rehearsals like? Quite civilised? And have you changed anything about them after a year of relative quiet?
We’ll like I said, I’ve been away for most of the pandemic, but a typical rehearsal is pretty fun. We have a few beverages, run through some songs, work on new ideas, watch some horror movies, drink a few more beverages, smoke some weed and usually end up at a bar down the street. Our rehearsals are my favorite part of playing in the band.
Do the band all have girlfriends / partners and perhaps kids who keep you grounded with helpful comments like ‘that’s good’, or ‘that’s shit’, etc..? Are family supportive?
We’re all taken, sorry ladies and gentleman haha. We all have really amazing partners and they are super supportive of the band. Always holdin down the front row.
If you could go back in time, what would you have said to yourself when you started out?
There are a few record label choices I would have warned myself against but at the end of the day it lead us to where we are now so can’t be to sour about it.
Do you want to take this opportunity to mention any other bands you like, or are connected with?
Tooth has a new band with Nick Lane called Stress Angel that is pretty great. Occvlta, Antichrist, Impure, Nekromatheon and Obliteration are some great friends and road dogs.
Well Ryan, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions – what next for yourself and NATUR?
I’m gonna drink a beer!!!