By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Brown acoustic guitar slung across his back, a man in a black cowboy hat, blue denim button-down shirt, jeans and brown boots walks up a railroad track alone.
An appropriate metaphor for his music career, Nate Currin has deemed himself a “lone troubadour traveler,” to the point where he lived in an RV for four years to tour across the country. An introvert by nature, he regularly struggles with loneliness.
“I think that stems from the illusion that often times I’m truly on my own,” Currin said. “Obviously, not on my own traveling the road or in life, but rather in this musical journey, if that makes sense. I think for me, I often times struggle with the belief that there are people out there – fans [and] friends that truly and genuinely care. Obviously, I know that there are, but often times, the voices in my head when I spend so much time alone whether it’s on the road or in hotel rooms constantly are a source of doubt and questioning.”
Nevertheless, the hard work has been worth it. Over the last 12 years, the North Georgian has traveled 650,000 miles, played over 800 shows and won five International Music & Entertainment Awards. His albums have even reached the Top 20 chart on iTunes, which include 2016’s The Madman and the Poet – a two-sided concept album that presents life as a dichotomy between its dark questions and beautiful answers.
The record holds a strong favorite he loves to play on the road entitled, “Sinner Or Saint.” Being both the son and brother of preachers, he expressed how the song provides a good glimpse into his personal life.
“I come from a very religious family and I’ve got a lot of religious undertones in my music, but I constantly battle the battle between faith and doubt and heaven and hell and just the joys and the darkness that can come with all those things and so I think that song personifies or really presents my struggle in a good way,” Currin said.
Currin’s musical style has grown lyrically darker and more experimental since his 2010 debut album Goodnight California, which drew from his folk-acoustic background.
“[Goodnight California] was more pop, radio friendly, alternative-sounding,” Currin said. “It was a severe departure from everything I had done to that point, so [it] really wasn’t the beginning for me. It was almost like a stepping stone. It was almost like an experiment that I was trying and not that it wasn’t a good album in some ways, but it wasn’t me and so every album since then has been different.”
His latest effort and fifth full-length studio album Ashes & Earth was released April 19, three years to the day from when The Madman and the Poet came out. He felt while it’s not his most radio-friendly album, it’s his most honest.
“It’s super raw, it’s super real and I really bare my soul on a lot of the tracks on this new album and it once again showcases my struggle with faith, life, living life to the fullest while also holding on to a strong faith in god and trying to help people along the way, but the darkness that comes with all those things,” Currin explained.
Ashes & Earth was recorded and tracked in various locations in North Ga. with a range in producers from Dan Hannon (Manchester Orchestra), Jon Poole (Currin’s longtime drummer) and Simon Illa, who helped produce Goodnight California. Seven of the 10 tracks were recorded at Track Side Studios in Gainesville, Ga., Currin’s hometown. It marked the first time Currin worked on an album “at home.”
“When I Was Younger” was recently released as the second single from Ashes & Earth.
“This was a song that came from a very personal place, much about the way that I was raised and the struggles I still have with dealing with depression and doubt and those type of things,” said Currin. “I think it’s a song that’ll help some people maybe deal with some things in their past.”
Currin is also known for his covers posted on his YouTube page, which range from The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Thirty-Three” to fun.’s “Carry On.” When it comes to covers, he looks for songs that speak to him. He was significantly influenced by Smashing Pumpkins through high school and college. He credits Billy Corgan’s writing for his musical inspiration. Ashes & Earth is actually his first album to contain a cover, as it features their song, “1979.”
As for his future, he has spent time on remodeling his newly bought Florida house. After four years in a motorhome on an endless country tour, he looks forward to becoming domesticated again.
“There’s been ups and downs,” explained Currin. “There’s been times I’ve done pretty well and there’s been other times where I’ve struggled to pay the bills probably like any musician that tries to do it full-time. It hasn’t been easy but over the last nine or ten years, I’ve just done a ton of touring, just playing anywhere that would have me and tried to build up a following and sell records. I mean, God [has] graciously allowed me to be able to do that. It hasn’t been easy at all, and I’m certainly not super accomplished by any means at least in my own mind, but it’s been well enough to sustain me for the last decade so I feel very blessed in that way.”