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This year, Sport Fishing USA will be making their debut appearance at the Nelsonville Music Festival. The band had an interesting start three years ago, when band generator, Nathan Moore, decided to start a small recording studio in his bedroom. With the help of his brother, Moore recorded the band’s first album, Sport Fishing USA. The only thing missing, however, was the band.
So, Moore and his brother, Brendan, went in search of a drummer and came back with David Byrne. Thus, the band was created, and after a couple of years, they released their second album, which is basically a renovated version of their first one.
ACRN got the chance to speak with Moore and hear a little more about the history of Sport Fishing USA and why we get the pleasure of seeing them perform at Nelsonville this year.
ACRN: What is the story behind the band? How did you all meet and get together?
Nathan Moore: Well, I wrote all of the songs basically in 2009 and was recording [by] myself. I had my brother, Brendan, play drums on a few of the songs. He was definitely good enough to lay down some tracks. We were composing most of the drum beats on the computer, and you can hear that if you listen to the first album. A few songs had a real drum set to them and some of them are mixed. After I had about 12 or 14 songs, I decided I wanted to release an album of my own material and then make a band around it.
So that summer of 2010, I taught all the songs to my brother and we decided we needed a drummer and he [Brendan] went on bass. He could sing and play bass at the same time, and we were really excited about having a three-piece band. So the best drummer we knew in Yellow Springs was David Byrne. I think we practiced maybe five or six times before our first show. So in 2010 we started booking shows, and we had the album already so we were selling that at shows. It was kind of a band made up from an album.
ACRN: What would you say are your usual venues? Where have you played that is especially exciting?
NM: Mostly bars, really. Like The Union and Casa in Athens, some places in Dayton and Yellow Springs. Usually in very music oriented bars where people come to hear music. We’ve played a few house shows and some festivals.
We played at this really cool opera house once. We played all of our songs acoustically and my brother played the mandolin. It was a packed house, it was literally sold out. It was one of the more interesting shows we’ve played. It’s really cool to play at venues that are designed to play music rather than just at a bar.
ACRN: So I see you have released two albums so far?
NM: We just put out the most recent one literally a week or so ago. We’ve been recording for the past two years, though. It’s kind of an in-between album. It’s got songs from the first album on there, but we recorded it in the way that we play it live. Whereas the first album it was all just recorded in my room and we didn’t have our drummer on it, this one is just more of a stripped-down version and the way we actually play it. Also, it has some unreleased material and versions of songs that weren’t on the first one, random songs from that era that weren’t released.
ACRN: Do your albums cover any specific themes?
NM: I mean, it's mostly just about growing up and getting through [and] all the baggage that goes along with that. Learning about yourself and how other people are. Relationships and breakups. I mean, that’s what I was going through when I wrote it.
ACRN: Are the two albums pretty similar to one another or very different?
NM: I mean, it's definitely different in that for the first one I played all the instruments myself, sang all the tracks myself, and for this one we already knew all the songs. David did a really phenomenal job with drums. We did it in one take and he just played perfectly. That’s why we call it Live at the Pool, because it's kind of like a live album. I mean it's doctored, but it has a live feel. And if you listen to the tracks back-to-back you’ll definitely hear that they’re different. We didn’t change the songs, but the execution is definitely different.
ACRN: How would you describe your music both instrumentally and lyrically?
NM: Well, I try to write relatively pop songs that get stuck in your head, except they sound different. I try to use more than two chords. They will have two verses, a chorus and a break. And that’s it. But I try to make them interesting to me. I listen to a lot of music, so I like to play what I like to listen to. And I kind of freak out on the guitar [laughs].
ACRN: Do you have plans for a new album in the future?
NM: Yeah, there are a lot of ideas for new songs in the works. Quite a few have been written already. That’s why our last album was transitional. It's kind of taking the old songs and showing how we play them now. So our plans for the summer and the next year or two will be to record and put something out hopefully by next year.
ACRN: When performing, do you gear your shows toward a specific audience?
NM: Well sort of. I guess we play differently for different audiences, but it’s not like a conscious thing. I used to freak people out, lay down and go crazy on stage. I kind of stopped doing that. We don’t really change our setlist based on who we are playing for.
ACRN: The music festival in Nelsonville will have a pretty diverse range of people. Do you think your music will be suited for all of them?
NM: I hope so! I mean, I have noticed we appeal to a very wide range of audience members. People in their 60s come up to us and say we remind [them] of a band from when they were growing up, and then young kids like 13 or 14 will come up to us and be like, "You’re awesome." I mean, all kinds of people seem to like us. There are people who don’t get it at all, but they vary across the board. I wouldn’t say we have a specific core audience. I do notice that a lot of old people like us, which is flattering and I find it kind of funny. But really I hope everyone likes it.
ACRN: Are you looking forward to Nelsonville?
NM: Oh yes, we’ve been looking forward to it for months! It’s probably the highlight of my life right now [laughs].
ACRN: I guess that was a silly question! How did you get involved in playing at the festival?
NM: Well I kind of know the director who puts the show together. He booked us a few shows at Casa before, and I was thinking if he wants us to play he’ll ask us. I was sure he was being bothered by thousands of bands from Ohio, so I didn’t really want to ask him. But I hoped, I honestly hoped he would ask us, and when he finally did I was pretty happy about that.
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