Third Outing caught up with the crazy lifestyle of Nathan Roche, the Australian singer songwriter and author, who is living the (French) dream
3rd: Hello Nathan, introduce yourself to the Third Outing readers? You're an Australian who now lives in Paris.
Nathan: I think you just covered the gist of it. Nailed it in one, name and place, the essential credentials. I come from the tropical paradise/hellhole Townsville in North Queensland, I was born in Perth but it doesn’t seem like it. It feels like my parents lied to me. I live in Paris because I’m too lazy to catch the agonizing 25-hour flight home. Besides, French food is better than airline food and my current life is surprisingly cheaper than it was in Sydney. I write books because I have to and play music to have easy access to the absurdity of life, people, places and experience.
3rd: Could you describe Nathan Roche's sound in one sentence?
Nathan: Like a ranting drunk uncle at Christmas that falls off the chair and his pants rip revealing love-heart underpants.
3rd: Watch It Wharf is your first solo record. It's very 80's, Felt ,Talking Heads ,Velvet Underground and so on. Tell us more about it?
Nathan: My old friend from Townsville Joseph Ireland who has played on albums with me in Marf Loth and Nathan Roche & The Wentworth-Avenue Breeze-Out and I in his group Joseph Liddy & The Skeleton Horse pulled me aside one day and said, “Listen, the records you recorded could have been far better if only you knew what the hell you were doing” The following day I went to his house and we recorded it using his fancy new equipment. Also present in the room was three bottles of scotch and an elephant. We commence work first thing in the morning at the desk like knitters in a sweatshop. After a week it’s done, we could clock out on a sheet attached to a clipboard on the wall and go on holiday.
"I’m always thinking it English to write my silly books unfortunately. It’s like being voluntarily schizophrenic with an excuse".
3rd: Then arrives Magnetic Memories, your second record. The style is different, less 80's. What was the idea behind this record? And most importantly, who's the cute girl from another planet?
Nathan: People seemed to like the first one for some strange reason. So, after 9 shitty albums or whatever people actually reviewed it so we thought lets do another one while people have said something on a blog. A week after the first came out we started the second with more equipment, more vices and lost minds. There’s never any idea overall but I was in New Caledonia for a while, and that made its way into the album in parts. The cute girl is a woman I went out with that was not of this planet or I wasn’t of hers. The universe is a two way street. I THINK I know what that means.
3rd: Cathedral Made Outta' Green Cards could be seen as the experimental album. How do you see this record?
Nathan: I see it as a mistake. Like the Watergate scandal and poor old Greece joining the euro. I see them all as productive bonding sessions between whomever I make them with, but ultimately it was a mistake, which is actually a good thing because you want to make another one to correct yourself and the past. There were too many tracks, no one listened to it. The spoken word stuff was a bad idea, terrible idea – I thought I could be Ivor Cutler or Vivian Stanshall but it wasn’t going to work unless I try it again in fifteen to twenty years with a funny beard and James Joyce glasses.
3rd: In Les Inrocks they say you don't really care about releasing your music via a record label. Why?
Nathan: What’s the point? The day ends the same was it began on a slightly different path. I like the one more rugged that you have to figure out yourself. BUT I prefer things to be immediate so I can move on straight away, I was on a relatively popular record label once called Pop Frenzy and they did a Camperdown & Out album and it took a year to come out and about 2,000 emails. When we did Watch It Wharf we mastered the tracks, and printed the CDs the next morning and put them in shops by the afternoon. But now I’m becoming more patient though so I’ll start sending desperate letters Goner Records soon.
3rd: Now that you're based in Paris do you think about recording songs in french?
Nathan: There’s a track Go Tell The Canal on the last record where I say some French but its all wrong. I think I say 'mon que' chose instead of 'quelque chose'. I don’t remember doing it or why. I’d like to sing songs in French one day but everyone in Australia would think I’m an arsehole. Plus, the likelihood of me being able to is very unlikely. Why? Because I failed everything at school and my ability to learn things or languages is trés trés lent. I’m always thinking it English to write my silly books unfortunately. It’s like being voluntarily schizophrenic with an excuse.
3rd: So Nathan, if we were to come down to Paris for a night out, where would you take us?
Nathan: I don’t know, probably to a Le Non Jazz show. I prefer watching experimental or noise music after long days on the metro, walking around. It numbs you out in a great way since you already feel a little fried and overwhelmed from the bustling city. Other than that, maybe a strip bar in Pigalle (although, I wont come in) or Quai Pont d’Orleans, Pont Neuf. Well, Realistically, we’d just go to a tabac with a very cheap happy hour.
3rd: What's on your ipod these days?
Nathan; I’ve never owned an ipod in my life or an MP3 player. The record player is in storage in Sydney along with about 700 records. I can’t afford to buy things beyond food and drink now that I don’t have the Australian dole fortnightly income.
3rd: Thanks for your time Nathan. Finally, a Third Outing classic, what's your desert island drink?
Nathan; Islands are my favourite places. Lord Howe Island, look that place up its where I plan to die. Drink wise, Caribbean rum would go down well, straight of course or a little bit in a coconut, or a nice cold mojito using Mexican limes – actually I really like Singapore Slings – I could go on forever but maybe your readers didn’t even make it this far. I’m starting to sound like a ranting drunk uncle at Christmas.
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