CHATTING ABOUT LIFE WITH LA RIVER BEND | GBP INTERVIEW #397


Could you introduce yourself?

My name is Nate Weiner, I'm the lead singer-songwriter for LA River Bend.

How did you all meet?

I've known Branden Stroup for over 10 years now, we met freshman year of college, although we were on opposite coasts. His college roommate at NYU was a close high school buddy of mine and we would hang out in NY or over in LA. Zoom forward to 2012, I'm finishing up my solo release, Ride the Sun, and recruited Branden to mix it. We decided to play the songs out with Branden on bass and that's when we met Emily Elkin. She was playing cello alongside that same high school buddy/Branden's NYU roommate and then she joined us and we did a little West Coast tour up to Portland & back. That buddy by the way is Tara of Earth Wake, who is an amazing musician and one we are lucky to know here in LA. Jacob Seldes joined the band in 2014, he was playing with Kissing & the Hiccups at the time. With his addition we started to get much fuller, diverse, unique sound.

What makes you drawn to create? What was your earliest memory that had to do with music?

I was definitely the loud little shit in the classroom. I had good manners but would lose them if there was an opportunity to sing or make someone laugh. I do have early memories of being horrible at drawing and painting, which was how a lot of kids expressed that they were blessed with the art bug. I was more into accents and impressions, which eventually lead to singing Sugar Ray & Third Eye Blind perfectly, with the same inflections as Mark McGrath & Stephan Jenkins. There was also that one Hanson album in there, but to be fair I was living in Tokyo at the time. The only American TV we got was CHIPS & Party of Five. I didn't discover Zepplin, Floyd & Radiohead til I went to Jew camp the summer after 8th grade.

My earliest musical memories however were listening to a lot of Beach Boys & a lot of Beatles. Also there were these cassette tapes my mom had that were biographical stories about Mozart, Beethoven, etc. I don't know where those ended up or what they were called, but I listened to those everyday as a little kid. My dad lived abroad then, but when we joined him in Japan, he introduced me to his love of jazz. We saw the Buena Vista Social Club with a lot of the original members perform in Tokyo, still in my personal top 5 concerts.

How does California influence your music? Do you feel your environment has played a part in what you create?

California is a HUGE influence on our music. All the songs on the EP have a distinct nature setting in mind when I wrote them. Some are more evident than others beyond lyrics, but hopefully the calming naturalistic vibes translate. Another uniquely LA aspect of the music is that we are writing songs to have a relaxing car ride to. Angelenos are constantly driving in horrendous traffic, if we can add a little medicine for the road rage, all the better.

What is one emotion that will always motivate you to create and express yourself?

I want to say restlessness, but that isn't an emotion. That restlessness must come from anxiety, which for me can be easily disguised as anger. When I am creating and writing it is ultimately calming. After a long day of work, jamming with the band is definitely my favorite thing.

Could you tell us about your upcoming EP titled, "Run These Hills"? What inspired this project?

Run These Hills was originally a full-length record. We had 10 songs but over the long process of mixing, our sound started to change. We wrote new songs that are have totally changed the direction we're going as a band. When we looked at our tracks, we saw that releasing a tight 5-song EP was the way to go. Our new songs that we are playing live, are in the vein of our 2 singles "Summer Wind" and "Mountain."

Run These Hills is a mix of some of my old songs before the band & two that I wrote for the band. Ultimately it is a great origin point for the band, showing the beginning of the sound that we are exploring now.

If you could have coffee with anyone today, who would it be and why?

Maybe because it is coffee, my first thought is Anthony Bourdain. It would be so amazing to share a meal with that guy, picking his brain on thousands of topics. The man is knowledgeable. I also would love to sit down and chat with Marc Maron. I feel at ease hearing these two guys speak, I don't think there would be much of an awkward stage there. Ball's in their court.

What are your thoughts on genres? If you had to create a new genre name for your sound, what would it be and why?

I think genres are meant to be mingled, but also a lot of word association I would use to describe our sound is already a genre, that we probably don't fit into. Like Chillwave or Vibe Rock.

If I had to create a genre for us it might be SoCalFolkWave or PositiveFolkVibe. Better just stick with Folk Rock Jock Jams.

Name one song that will always get you to dance no matter what?

I have a few, right now the one that comes to mind is "Kounkoun" by Oumou Sangare, super catchy.

What do you want listeners to feel when they listen to your work?

I hope that the positivity permeates and they are left with a calming energy.

Could you walk us through your version of a perfect day?

A perfect LA day for me would be a morning workout downtown cancelled out by a carb heavy breakfast at someplace delicious like Winsome or Chimney Coffee. Then back to my place in Van Nuys for a fat nap. Hang out with my fiancee & our dog, maybe go to Balboa Lake. Then it's off to jamming or playing a gig with the band. If we could end the night at our buddy's PLaNETS band house with some taco truck mulitas & tacos, that would be amazing.

I'd also be fine hiking in Malibu all day & then going to sleep. That sounds equally as amazing.

What are a few of your goals for the upcoming year?

Right now, we really want to make the most of our EP, and try to get people interested in hearing a full-length. Then we just have to record it, a lot of the songs are written already.

Any closing comments?

I hope the positivity translates through the music and if it can help a few people have a better day, that's the ultimate goal with our music.

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