This is my buddy Nate Hertweck song The Producers and it’s a great well written song. Good vocals and production. It’s a winner for me. Was a pleasure to finally meet Nate in January. Super nice guy, total gentleman. With his new song out had to interview him for the site. So please read on.
1. What inspired the song The Producers?
There’s a saying: No one wants to hear about your dreams, unless they’re in them. That said, “The Producers” came from a dream and is about dreams, both the ones you have when you’re asleep and the ones you have when you’re awake. In my sleeping dream, I was having coffee at a diner with God. She was a writer with no pen, and she was about to write out my life. It was one of those typically cryptic dream scenarios that make sense at the time but never add up in the morning. That’s where the song’s concept originated.
Our waking dreams often suffer a similar fate. I feel like we want to be excellent at something in the limited time we have here while also meeting all of life’s demands, challenges and obligations. I suppose the song was inspired by the realization it’s not ever going to be enough, accepting this as fact and wondering if being destined for mediocrity is such a bad thing after all. I wasn’t too particular about the lyrics because the whole concept went in a surreal direction. While it’s not my most eloquent or articulate song, I’m happy with the sort of collage of consciousness it became.
2. Were you happy how it has been received?
Absolutely. I’m lucky to have a small but supportive community of songwriters in my life who have all been extremely encouraging. That said, I really believe in making art totally detached from what anyone thinks about it, which is easier said than done these days with all of the ways we receive feedback online.
3. How does a song start for you?
Lots of times it’s a lyric then a melody, then I’ll add chords later. At the time I wrote “The Producers,” I was really into this Soul Asylum song called “To My Own Devices.” I really liked where the chords changed and how the number of bars was a little uneven, so I ran with that idea.
4. Where do you get your inspiration from?
For musical concepts, I feed off other artists, mostly songwriters, but also authors and visual artists. For lyrics, I try to observe life and how I feel about it with a sense of wonder and channel pain, joy, confusion, and passion into something worth saying and worth hearing.
5. Has your songwriting changed from when you were starting out?
Definitely. The older I get the more I try to get out of my own way when writing and let the ideas come through wherever and whenever they come. Learning how to do this well is a lifelong pursuit.
6. What has been the best piece of advice you have given about your music career?
A long time ago I interviewed the drummer of a band I love, The Holy Cows. I was never able to publish the interview, but he said something that stuck with me: Art is forever. That nailed me to the wall, and I stopped worrying so much about promoting what I do and focused on creating better music without any expectation of how or even if it would be heard. You don’t leave behind what people thought of your art, because they’ll die, too. All you leave behind is the art, and it can go anywhere. Anything is possible.
7. Was the recording process different to earlier material?
“The Producers” was recorded at Lost Ark Studio in San Diego – an incredible facility with killer gear and a great sound. My friend Mike Butler produced the track, which was a lifelong dream for me to work with him. We cut it all in one day. I redid the vocal, because I wasn’t thrilled with it, but Mike mixed the song. I wish I could record like that all the time. He’s a real creative musical talent, and there’s no accounting for those traits.
8. Did you go into the studio prepared or did you go with the flow?
I was prepared, but I wanted the other musicians to use their instincts. There’s a ton of feeling and improvisation on “The Producers” from the players, which was the point. It was also a real treat to hear them do their thing, especially my longtime friend Christopher Allis, who is one of the most feel-oriented drummers I’ve ever heard.
9. Do you have set theme for your music or does it go with the flow and changes?
No matter what style of music I’m playing or writing, I try to invoke the irreverence of punk and the sincerity of soul. Even if the sound of the song has nothing to do with those two musical genres, they are solid spirit signposts to follow.
10. Do like to write without inspiration or distractions or do you need a bit of both?
Song ideas usually arrive at the most inconvenient times. That’s how the creative muse works, I guess. Because I don’t have a lot of say in when the ideas come, it’s usually at a distracted time. But when you get in the writing zone, everything else seems to push off to the side. It’s rare, but it’s magic.
11. How important is having a plan in place for your music?
I’ve gotten very into planning for things to change. I do a lot of improvising when recording and I try to honor my initial instincts whenever possible, but ultimately there are many inspired musical moments lurking out there, waiting to be stumbled into if you’re open enough when writing, playing or recording.
12. What does 2019 have in store for you?
Lots! My band Dawn Fades is releasing our self-titled debut album on February 8 on Metal Assault Records. I’m working on a couple different solo EPs. I’m playing with my band Dinosaur Tooth every Wednesday night at the Cock N Bull in Santa Monica. I’ll also be doing more solo shows, so it’ll be busy. Writing-wise, I’m always working on new tunes, trying to improve and say something meaningful.