In our newest NoiseTrade One-on-One, we chatted with Nathaniel Rateliff about his new retro-soul album Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, his move from solo artist to band leader, and the Blue Brothers-inspired music video for “S.O.B.” – the lead single from the band’s self-titled debut. Hot on the heels of their late night television debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last week, dig into our enlightening discussion with the frenetic frontman.
NoiseTrade: There’s a nostalgic, reverb-drenched, garage-soul aesthetic running through your new single “S.O.B.” from your upcoming album Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats (out 8/21). How’d you capture that retro-tinged sound so perfectly and what albums did you use as inspiration?
Nathaniel Rateliff: We just tried to have fun and serve the songs as best we could. If you add old, shitty gear and Richard Swift to the mix and leave the mistakes, I guess this is what you end up with.
As far as inspiration, I’ve been listening to The Band, Chambers Brothers, Otis Redding, and Sam and Dave and the rest of the Stax and Volt catalog.
NT: Being that you’re mostly known as somewhat of a solo artist, what inspired the jump to a full-band album as Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats?
Rateliff: I’ve toured with a band a much as I could for the past 7 years. For the most part, I’m still playing with the same band. I know the style is different but the content is still the same. I’ve loved Soul and R&B for most of my life and have wanted to try my hand at it for a long time. It just took a while to figure out.
NT: What does it mean for you to have this album be released on the iconic Stax Records label? Do you feel a special kindred spirit with the rest of the legendary roster?
Rateliff: Well, I love all the artists and their sound. It is more than an honor to be on the roster.
NT: I absolutely love the Blues Brothers feel of the “S.O.B.” music video. Whose idea was the prison performance and was it as much fun to shoot as it looked?
Rateliff: It was an idea that a few of us had separately and it came together naturally. It was a blast to shoot. If you add five bottles of Jack Daniels to anything, it’s fun.
NT: When was the first moment you found out that you had that big banshee voice inside of you and how did you start weaving the soul element into it?
Rateliff: I can’t pinpoint a moment when I realized my voice… I mean, I didn’t get bitten by a radioactive backup singer and wake up with super soul powers or anything. I’ve always had a deep love and respect for this kind of music and I think there has always been an element of it in the way I write songs. I’ve never wanted to limit myself to a particular genre or style and I don’t think I could’ve ever felt like I’d fully expressed myself musically if I hadn’t put this band together and made this record.
This music is really demanding of the performer… you have to put your heart and your back into it. It requires stamina and confidence. I guess the time was just right. I finally felt ready to do it, so here it is.
NT: Finally, do you have a favorite Stax Record release that you think everyone should listen to before doing anything else?
Rateliff: There’s so much in the catalog, it’s hard to say. I would suggest Otis Redding’s Live in London and Paris.