A phoenix from the ashes: Nat Ireson
Not a lot of people can say that they’ve been through what Nat Ireson has and really live to talk about it. He’s been a fixture in the Huntington area for quite a few years now since his first band, Wartime Criminals, when he was about 14 years old, and Red Light Regime, with his late friend Adam Johnson. He’s also been involved with several other area musicians in addition.
Not long after Ireson began working on what would later become his debut release, “Serotonin,” he was the victim of a near fatal automobile accident on Jan. 16, 2012. He was literally left for dead by the driver of the vehicle he was in – a person he considered a “friend” at the time.
Ireson sustained a fractured neck and was in a coma for roughly three days. He woke up to find out that he had suffered – in addition to the initial neck fracture – cranial nerve damage as well. This left him unable to walk. As if this wasn’t bad enough, once it was determined that his white cell counts were down and no visible infections were present, he was released by the hospital due to no insurance coverage. The fact that he still could not walk seemed to be of little to no consequence. Only able to obtain emergency assistance from the state, he was transferred to a nursing home, where he would finish his institutional recovery.
At age 27, Ireson remained in the nursing home for quite a length of time. He’s finally able to move and maneuver, but he still suffers stroke-like symptoms, including limited mobility and the loss of use in his right arm and hand.
Despite his misfortune, Nat Ireson has managed to rehabilitate himself, completely on his own, with only the help of friends. He’s found his music once again, though he never really let his disposition get the best of him-he wrote track number seven on “Serotonin,” – a song called “The Leader” – while still in recovery at the nursing home. His spirit is unscathed and his determination to persevere has paid off for him. As he continues down his long stretch to recovery, Ireson is still determined to remain creative. Here’s what he had to say when he recently spoke with Graffiti about his work.
Graffiti: Let’s start with your background. Where did your interest in music begin?
Ireson: There has always been music in my family. I grew up with music in my house. My dad plays bass and there was always something going on where there would always be music around. Music is art to me and I just love art.
Graffiti: So this is where your interest in art began as well?
Ireson: Absolutely. And art is all around, so it’s not hard to find something inspiring. I find art and music all around, if you want to separate the two. But, again, music is art to me.
Graffiti: How do you set about writing?
Ireson: Well, I usually have a melody first. Then I just try to take what I feel from that and build on it from there. Sometimes it doesn’t work like I want it to but most of the time I can do something with an idea like that. Sometimes it starts with lyrics, but now I can’t write with my right hand so that makes it hard. But I’m getting it all back, slowly.
Graffiti: What has the response to “Serotonin” been so far?
Ireson: People that have heard it that I know like it. I can see when people listen to it online – the hits on it – so I can tell when people listen to it. I haven’t really promoted myself much, but I have artwork for [the album] now. I have a Facebook page up for it that people can click on it if they like it.
Graffiti: What are your plans for promotion?
Ireson: I’d like to get videos made for every track on the album, and get a DVD done for that. I’d like to have every video directed by a different person, too. It would be like a type of visual art. It wouldn’t be just me and one [other] person doing it. It would be a bunch of different perspectives.
Graffiti: So, after all of this, what’s next for you?
Ireson: I’ve got another album I want to put out. It’s kind of at a starting point now, but right now it’s called “The Medical Mystery Tour” – a Beatles cover, dude. Essentially, anyway. I mean, it might be called something else – it probably will be. It might even just be one song. Anything I’m working on, I like to put a meaning behind it before I start it. Kind of like a short screenplay, but for one track. I like to use fictional alter-egos and use my imagination.
Like, what if I was a serial killer, what if I was a politician? What would I sing about? Some of my stuff is serious, some is sarcastic, but it’s down to the core of me. It’s just about all of this crap we have to sift through. I’ve also been wanting to go out and get sounds from outside and get the audio sounds down and get the actual musical tones so the music would go with the sounds sampled. Like if a storm is in the key of C I can change to be in with the storm.
Graffiti: You have a lot going on, so is there anything more you’d like to say about it? Anything to close with?
Ireson: Well, I’ve got a political track, but I’m not gonna put out any of my opinions about my politics. You can hear it when it comes out. I’ve got one about willpower and another really awesome track. It’s gonna be awesome. So if you like my stuff check it out. Or not. I’m just a person.
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Review: Nat Ireson
Despite some really unique circumstances, Nat Ireson has finally been able to release his debut full-length album, “Serotonin,” which has been under construction for the last three years. Though progress was hindered by a series of unfortunate events, Ireson has emerged victorious. “Serotonin” is, at the very least, interesting and entertaining. Upon first listen, it is a release that has the ability to entice the listener to see what the next track will offer, which is quite a bit actually. Ireson’s love for experimentation is prevalent on “Serotonin” and is what makes this release come to life.
There are a lot of things that influenced this album so it can’t really be classified. A lot of different musical influences come out to play with each other on any given cut. As the album plays through, however, there seems to be an increase in the use of synthesized music that gives the songs a more “electronic” direction all the way up through the final cut – an instrumental entitled “Deep In The Cemetery”- which is entirely electronic. More than anything, though, is the use of the ukulele, which is one of Ireson’s primary instruments of choice. Because he’s elected to employ the ukulele where many might have opted for the traditional guitar, he’s managed to give his music a softer, even sometimes playful feel, despite the darkness that seems to surround much of the music. “Serotonin” is not completely devoid of any guitar at all, however, because Ireson definitely knows how to play that as well, and he does. But his choice to change things around sometimes makes for a nice, weird juxtaposition. While there are probably many artists out there doing their thing that might be comparable to what Ireson does on “Serotonin,” his unique perspective on life and his surroundings helps to give his music a different light that isn’t present in what a lot of similar artists do.
As far as the individual tracks go, they range from avant-garde – due in sizeable part to the variety of vocal approaches – to straight forward. With the experimental nature of the release, however, it might lean a bit more toward the former than the latter. That is really a big part of what makes this album as appealing and enjoyable as it is: Ireson’s diversity. This is probably best represented in cuts like “Wang Toe Beehive,” “Don’t Bless It, Hold It,” and “The Leader” – a song written while he was confined to a nursing home after sustaining life-threatening and life-altering injuries sustained in an accident. “Hello,” which also opens the record, is another track that has a really ethereal quality due, again, to his vocal approach. Songs like “My Name Is Mikie” and the title cut, “Serotonin,” while still remaining true to his aesthetic, come at the listener a bit more head on. A noteworthy strong point, “My Deity,” has an almost Trent Reznor-esque delivery that works exceptionally well (that’s not to imply that this sounds anything like Nine Inch Nails at all).
“Serotonin” is arranged really well and is a nice sound release for Nat Ireson, especially as his debut. While it’s not something that everyone might understand, if given a chance, you’re likely to find something, in at least a few the songs, that appeal nicely.
Review:The Devil’s Blood
III: Tabula Rasa or Death and the Seven Pillars
At the beginning of spring, it was announced that The Devil’s Blood had officially disbanded. Prior to their decision to part ways they started work on their next record by recording a series of demos. Rather than simply scrapping the material, it was decided that they would have it mastered and present it as their proverbial swan song. With that in mind, bigger bands have gone out with lesser offerings. As it turns out, the unorthodox idea of releasing largely raw demoed material with a bit of mastering and nothing else was a risky but interesting call that paid off in the end.
With all things considered, “Tabula Rasa” might be The Devil’s Blood’s best offering to date. The raw quality of the music lends itself very well to their direction in musical style. In the past, they’d been compared to the Wilson sisters’ Heart – mostly because of the prevalent female vocals and their unassuming sound given their choices of imagery, philosophies and their dark lyrical content. In reality there is no real resemblance between the two acts.
“Tabula Rasa” is a very atmospheric album that is a bit ambitious and has a very bipolar nature, but it ultimately retains its cohesion, so it’s inherent chaos is appropriately controlled. The band has a unique way of fusing psychedelic ambience, straight rock ‘n’ roll and a brand of metal all their own. There is a distinct feel on this record that is kind of reminiscent of an album that might have been released in the 1970s: Structuring, vibe, and delivery.
The Devil’s Blood is a talented band that has always employed different elements from a host of varied genres: rich vocal harmonies with male and female arrangements, interesting guitar work, “shred” ability, ambient keyboards and organs, diverse key changes, etc. This approach has set them apart from many of their contemporaries and peers and has afforded them the luxury of making their last album a great album, even possibly their best album. The opening track, “I Was Promised a Hunt,” is a moody piece that does a great job of setting the tone for the rest of the album. “In the Loving Arms of Lunacy’s Secret Demons” is a strong track that makes use of Selim “SL” Lemouchi’s guitar abilities, as well as “Dance of the Elements,” and the title track, “Tabula Rasa,” which also closes the album. A good example of the band’s atypical style is “White Storm of Teeth,” with unsettling but intriguing vocal harmonies and strong ritual drums that really pick the song up and help carry it to a higher place.
It’s a shame that they will not be together after this release for touring because most of the songs on “Tabula Rasa” would make for a unique, fresh live experience. Fans of the band should be able to relish this release, not only as the band’s last, but also possibly best effort. If someone were not yet familiar with The Devil’s Blood, this would be a good album for introduction. Simply put, The Devil’s Blood has effectively gone out on top with a surprisingly great record.