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17th April 2019

There are very few people in the world that can roll out a CV as long as Nathan’s and be so modest about it. Taking time out from his schedule in Japan with Eric Clapton – his 80th visit to this country -  he greets me with a hug like an old friend (this is our third interview over four years) and with a huge smile, slips comfortably into the interview. For the next hour or so, we are in the company one of the greats but from his humble and peaceful demeanor, you would never guess it.


The Magician


Q: How’s the magic going?


NE: Funny you should ask…(Nathan then does a close-up sleight of hand magic trick that baffles myself and photographer).  I was actually just with my magic ‘sensei’ Akira Fuji who was showing me some new amazing illusions.  


Q: That’s magnificent. You’re a member of the Magic Castle aren’t you?


NE: Yes, the Magic Castle and the Magic Circle in London where magician Simon Drake sponsored me and you have to pass a performance audition to become a member… it’s the same with the Magic Castle in L.A.


Q: Are the auditions nerve-wracking?


NE: Oh my goodness yes! Much more nerve-wracking than performing for 250,000 people! (laughs) These old seasoned magicians have seen everything so trying to impress them is quite the challenge.


Musical Relationships


Q: You’ve been playing with Eric on and off for over thirty years, he’s probably your friend more than anything else…


NE: Absolutely.


 Q: …how has your musical relationship changed over the years if at all?


NE: Musical relationships evolve just like any relationship. You grow together and eventually know each other so well that there’s sort of a non-verbal communication and I think we’ve arrived at that point. I’ve learned to anticipate where Eric is going when we’re performing… kind of like hearing around the corner, it’s fascinating.


Q: Steve Ferrone said pretty much the same about you.


NE: Aww, my mate Steve! He’s amazing…well he’s my brother in rhythm.


Q: McCartney/Starr, Watts/Richards and Nathan and Steve are probably the best rhythm sections in the world.


NE: Thank you for including us in such good company, Steve and I are literally like brothers – we don’t have to say anything, just play. Speaking of Ringo, I just saw him the other night after I landed Tokyo, we hugged and he gave me this hat I’m wearing.


Q: Oh you were at Ringo’s show here? (Ringo played Tokyo a few days before this interview)


NE: I had planned to go. My plane landed Narita at 4pm, the show started at 5pm so I was going directly from the airport but traffic was so crazy and I didn’t hit Tokyo until 6:30pm. (laughs)

So I went to their hotel and caught up with the guys and we grabbed a bite to eat… really great seeing my pals Lukather, Gregg Bissonette, Warren and Hamish…


Q: We went to the show a few years ago and it didn’t really kick-in for whatever reason I don’t know but this time he had Hamish Stuart on bass…


NE: That was the difference for you?


Q: Oh…he just dropped into The Beatles’ stuff, obviously the Average White Band stuff but Toto’s and everybody else’s. He was so versatile; really something that night.


NE: Hamish and Ferrone are very close friends. I was really looking forward to hearing him with the All Starr Band.


Q: He was on fire that night.


NE: I saw them a few years ago here in Tokyo and they were all great!


Playing with the Gods and Goddesses


Q: You’re on Ringo’s latest album and since we last met you’ve been working with Steve Perry, Barbra Streisand, Don Felder and a host of others, how does the session system work these days for musicians of your level? I can’t imagine Babs or Ringo getting on the phone and asking you down to play.


NE: (laughs) The other day my iphone rings ‘Hey Nathan, it’s Ringo’. I thought it was someone winding me up but Ringo actually called himself and invited me to come play on his record…pretty cool!  I remember ages ago when I got my first call from John McLaughlin, I actually put the phone down because I thought it was one of my buddies playing a trick on me but he called me right back and said I had been recommended by Billy Cobham and asked me to go on tour with him! What an opportunity! I was in college at the time with only two more weeks until graduating but he wanted me to leave that Friday. Tough decision so I called the wisest person I knew, my Grandmother and she said “Nathan, if you don’t do but one thing for me in this life, please finish school” and with that request, I passed on the tour.  In Streisand’s case, the call usually comes from management or the producer because it’s a big 100-piece orchestra recording at her scoring stage but yes, much of the time the calls come directly from the artist.


Q: You’ve just mentioned you still get excited by that call even after having met and worked with so many of the great musicians of our era; are you ever in awe of anybody you meet?


NE: Absolutely. For instance, “Nowhere Man” by the Beatles was one of the first singles I ever purchased so to be up at Ringo’s playing music, laughing and joking is a thrill. I used to grab a broom and pretend I was playing bass with the Beatles when they came on TV.  Ringo is also super fit for a man of his late 70s!


Q: I’d like to be that fit now and I’m only 57….


NE: (laughs) Yeah he even calls me a fat bastard! (laughs) But getting back to your question, yes when you’re standing next to Barbra Streisand it’s hard not to think ‘what do I do? what do I say?’ (laughs) and she is just as sweet as can be.  I’ve performed in The White House several times and played at the inaugural concert of President Obama on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Beyoncé, Springsteen, Bono, Herbie Hancock, Garth Brooks, Usher and what seemed like the entire music industry! I was definitely in awe of meeting Mr. Obama!


Q: He must recognize you now. ‘Hello Nathan, how are you? Been busy?’


 NE: Well, after the concert there was an announcement saying please stay where you are whilst the First Family exits and they were supposed to exit stage left but Michelle and Barrack Obama came over to each one of us to shake hands and when he got to me the President said “Man, you were really laying it down!” and I’m thinking ‘WHAT!?’ so I said, “Do you mind if I call myself the First Bass Player?” (laughs) It was an amazing and wonderful experience!  I had placed photos of my parents and grandparents on my music stand as they would not have lived long enough to see the first Black President.


As well as all that…


Q: As of today, according to the internet*, you have 1,397 credits on recordings. Have you kept a record of every session you’ve done?


NE: Yes I have, although it’s difficult keeping up with thousands of songs recorded over the past 40 years! Also there are so many recordings where the musicians don’t get listed.


Q: So when’s the autobiography coming out?


NE: I’m working on it now. It’s something I need to write especially for the grandkids.(laughs)


Q: You’ve got grandkids?


NE: No! My twins are nineteen years old having only just completed their freshman year at UC Berkley. They’re off to a good start, my daughter is on the track team interested in biotech and my son is studying music and business – as the music business has somewhat diminished in recent years.


Q: Interesting you should say that and it brings me round to your last album, Reverence. For your solo shows here a couple of years back, you started them with a video message about reverence and the music you grew up with. I find myself these days feeling rather sad that many kids listening to music today won’t have the same association our generation does because music – especially Pop music – has become so disposable. Is that me being an old fuddy-duddy or is that something you see as well?


NE: Well I try not to sound too much like my parents (laughs) but you know, they told us when we were discovering The Beatles and James Brown that they had the Big Band era’ in their day and artists like Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald so in a way, it’s the same kind of shift but I think we have come through one of the most fertile periods of music in the last few decades. I embrace the whole new process of recording but I’m not sure if computers were meant to make music. I went to a show the other night with my kids and there wasn’t one musician on stage. There was a guy with a laptop and a rapper. The sold out audience of 25,000 was going crazy. I wondered if what I have been doing performing on stages around the world for the past 40 years is becoming obsolete or not.  I saw Ed Sheeran the other night at the Tokyo Dome (sold out two nights) he was great. Ed was the sole musician on stage. The way he used the loop station – very clever and the audience loved it but I kept thinking about what the dynamic would be if he added a bit of bass underneath and possibly some interaction with a small band. Where two or more are gathered….(smiles)


Q: I love the last track on Reverence, Until We Meet Again, is there a story behind that?


NE: Thank you. Yes, I was in the studio when I learned that Toots Thielemans had just passed away. Even though he was well into his 90s, the news was heartbreaking. I played with him a few times and he was the most kind, sweetest human being ever as reflected in his music.  My friend (engineer) Moogie Canazio pressed the record button and that song just came out from my heart so I dedicated it to Toots.


Q: That is what a computer cannot do Nathan.


NE: Exactly. Computers don’t have hearts …. yet.


Q: How about a follow-up to Reverence?


NE: I’m working on some new material right now but it’s tricky aligning my schedule to record with the extensive travel that I’m on at the moment. The process of writing, recording, mixing and mastering an album can be pretty time intensive and that’s always the challenge in putting out new music.


Q: Fourplay’s last album was Silver in 2015; what’s on the horizon?


NE: Out of respect and reverence for our late guitarist Chuck Loeb, Fourplay didn’t jump right back in with a replacement, but we will eventually work out what’s on the horizon. When Chuck joined Fourplay, not only did we realize he was such a wonderful player, producer, composer and performer but he was just the greatest guy you’d ever want to hang with, funny, witty, charming… a real class act. By the way, Chuck came up with the album title Silver celebrating Fourplay’s 25th anniversary. When he passed away, a big part of Fourplay went with Him. Chuck was my brother from another mother…we were born within 24 hours of each other; Chuck’s birth day was December 7th and mine December 8th. He was born in New York and me in Philly so we were sort of soul mates destined to meet and play together. Chuck wrote a couple of songs for my albums and I choke up every time I play them especially ‘Elevenate’. God bless his soul.


Q: What was your first recording?


NE: It was with The Patty Family Singers. Sandi Patty was the young daughter/sister singing in their family group…we went to school together. I was fourteen when they asked me play bass on their album. It’s a wonderful album and you can hear the young me on bass playing like he just won the lottery. That was my very first time in a recording studio (Studio West) and it was such a thrill. Sandi would of course go on to become one of the most popular artists in the Contemporary Christian genre.  Then, I recorded with Barry White spending four to five days a week in MCA Whitney Studios tracking in the rhythm section with Barry. That’s where I met drummer Ed Green, Ray Parker, Jr., Wah Wah, David T. Walker and lots of the LA session cats. Arranger Gene Page would call and I would drive from San Diego, record by day then drive back and gig by night at the Hilton Cargo Bar (laughs). It was such a blast recording hits like ‘Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me’ and all those cool Barry White songs! The only drag is Barry never credited the musicians because he didn’t want anybody stealing his sound.


Q: Steve Lukather was also a big part of that I believe.


NE: Yeah Luke was heavy in there, Ritenour & Larry Carlton; they were definitely The Hit Squad!


Q: Did you ever play with any of The Wrecking Crew?


NE: Most of those Wrecking Crew sessions were before my time but I did play on lots of jingles with the great drummer Hal Blaine.  And legendary bassist Carol Kaye is a friend of mine.


Q: You mentioned you grew up in Philadelphia, which would be through the Sound Of Philly era then.


NE: What an era, the Sound of Philly! We moved to San Diego when an aviation engineering job opened up for my father but we’d go back in the summer to visit and I absorbed a lot of musical influences there. Thom Bell, The Stylistics, Gamble & Huff, etc. a very special and important time in music.


Q: It’s strange how some towns just get associated to a certain style of music. Detroit is another one.


NE: It’s remarkable just how many musicians Detroit has given the world!! Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Anita Baker, Ray Parker, Jr., Greg Phillinganes the list is endless! I remember playing the Cobo Hall Arena in Detroit with Barry White and meeting legendary bass hero James Jameson.  A producer once asked me to replace one of Jameson’s bass parts in the studio and he’s the one man I would never record over.


Q: Jay Graydon told me that being a session musician, you have to be prepared to be wiped though. You go in, do the track, everyone’s happy but then for various reasons, you get replaced.


NE: Yeah.


Q: Has that ever happened to you?


NE: I’m sure it has. It’s the nature of the recording process. Sometimes a chord or a part gets changed and they can’t get you back into the studio or the part just wasn’t right for the song or whatever. We like to think that everything we lay down is going to be the gospel but actually, for me it’s the opposite. When I’m called to play on a track, I ask if there’s anything specific they want to hear because I don’t necessarily have all the ideas. I’ll bring my instincts to the table and obviously once you get past your ten thousand hours, your expertise is valuable and you play your best part but I’ve had artists who have written songs with a specific part in mind and that’s great because their vision of what they want is much closer than mine.


Q: Do you get a lot of preparation for a session?


NE: No.


Q: So you walk in blind to the music? That’s a hard gig.


NE: Yes and at rates that can be in excess of $3,000/hour for studio time – there’s not the luxury of ‘Okay, go away and learn the tune and come back when you’re ready’.  The pressure is on!


Playing with…


Q: Keb Mo


NE: Keb (Kevin) is from Compton, California and so is my wife who knew him growing up and he turned out to be one of the most iconic Blues musicians of our time. He rang me last year to do some tour dates with him but I was already booked and couldn’t make them. I hope the opportunity presents itself again!


Q: I love that story on your website where you had to turn down The Grammys because you were already booked to play The Grammys.


NE: (laughs) Yeah! That was pretty funny. I was booked to play with Daft Punk, Farrell & Stevie Wonder but then also got called to play in the Grammy Band but couldn’t do both.  You know I count my blessings every day! I start off with a prayer of thanks and gratitude. For a young kid from the ‘hood’, to grow up and discover this piece of wood called a bass and end up working with artists that he only dreamt about meeting is pretty remarkable.


Q: The Bee Gees


NE: Consummate musicians. When I was playing in club bands back in the Disco era, the whole set would be Bee Gees songs. Night Fever, Stayin’ Alive, How Deep Is Your Love and all those great songs they wrote… and to be in the studio with them was the best! Maurice and Robin bless their souls and Barry – we still keep in touch -  they have their place in music history for sure. 


Q: Was it your bass line on One?


NE: Yes. I played my prototype Yamaha Signature (BBNE), Maurice Gibb loved that bass.  Again, it was a huge honor being in the studio with the Bee Gees… lots of good laughs too!


Q: Rod Stewart has got to be a laugh a minute.


NE: A minute, and he goes out and plays soccer with the kids… a fun guy that doesn’t take anything too seriously which is what I love about him.  I hear he and Jeff Beck are about to do some shows together (Hollywood Bowl, 27th September 2019).


Q: I’ll bet Ronnie turns up.


NE: Yeah that’s what everybody’s thinking. These guys are all such icons in the music world.


Q: Don Felder


NE: I just recorded with Don for his new album American Rock ’n’ Roll.  There’s some great music on this album!  At his house there’s a huge Eagles plaque hanging over the fireplace to commemorate ‘The Best Selling Album of the 20 Century’.  I guess if you’re gonna have one that’s the one to have! (laughs).


Q: I interviewed Don a few years ago and on the day, just before we went in, I found out that Hotel California is the most requested foreign song in Japanese karaoke booths.


NE: Seriously? I don’t doubt it.


Q: Yeah and I asked him if he would mind talking me through how the chords to Hotel California came about and he sat there and described in detail for fifteen minutes the whole thing. Lovely man.


NE: A lovely man and a big part of The Eagles DNA. When you hear his new album, you really notice that classic sound and spirit that comes from Don.


Q: Dusty Springfield


NE: Wow…Talking about music royalty, Mary was lovely.  You’re taking me back to my childhood and another pinch-me moment when I was in the studio recording with her.  Blue eyed soul at its finest!


Q: We do a tour every couple of years for some students and I always throw in a couple of Rock locations and last time we ended up in Henley-on-Thames. So we of course went up to George’s place…


NE: Did you get in?


Q: Noooo! I wasn’t brave enough to ring the bell!


NE: (laughs) The first time I ever visited George, I thought his Gate House was the actual house (laughs). Then when the gate opened it was about another mile to the house. It’s a magnificent Victorian Neo-Gothic Mansion.


Q: That’s right and right down the road from George’s is St Mary’s church and that’s where Dusty is buried. 


NE: Yes, she spent her last days in Henley-on-Thames finally succumbing to breast cancer.  It’s a beautiful part of the world.


Q: Right down the hill, past the market and there it is, before the bridge. We went there and put some flowers on her grave and I lost it. Happy to shed a few tears for Dusty though.


NE: Absolutely. I’m going to try and go next time. Olivia and Dhani Harrison are still dear friends and my memories of spending time at the house with George and them will be with me for life.  All such gracious and kind, loving human beings.


Q: Steve told me the story of the world’s most expensive overdub.


NE: What’s that?


Q: (relates story to Nathan; please see Steve’s interview here for the full story)


NE: Oh man…I thought I had the most expensive overdub story, with Julio Iglesias. I recorded a song for Julio then left town to tour with Kenny Loggins. The next day, Julio called to tell me that they changed the kick drum pattern in the second verse and asked if I could come back in and re-record my bass part only in that verse to match the drums. I let him know that I was on tour but had a day off on Thursday. I was in Dallas, TX so he sent a plane to take me to LAX, then a helicopter from the airport to the studio, I replayed the 2nd verse, back on the helicopter, back to to LAX and charter flight back to Dallas. The next morning, a Fed-Ex package showed up at my hotel room – inside was a red box containing a Cartier Panthere 18K gold watch engraved, ‘Dear Nathan, gracias! Love, Julio’.  It was literally the kick drum pattern moved by a 16th note in the second verse so instead of going  bom bom-bom it was bom bombom. (laughs) God bless Julio!


Q: Us mere mortals can’t imagine that kind of world. To us it’s incredible.


NE: It’s incredible to me!


Q: When you and Steve sit down and talk, you must come up with some classics. He’s a raconteur; Mr Anecdote as well as being one of the world’s finest drummers.


NE: Steve is one of my closest friends.  He has a studio behind his house where we rehearse – just to hear him warming up getting a drum sound, nobody plays like that – his swing and groove – I posted him playing to my live story on instagram and you should have seen all the drummers that responded…he’s revered by everybody!


Q: Well you’re revered by everybody as well Nathan and the evidence is there; 1,397 recordings.


NE: That’s crazy and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m living the dream and I love my life! (laughs)


Q: Nathan, always good to see you and thanks for taking the time out to meet us.


NE: Thanks and be well my friend.

ネイザン・イースト インタビュー2019









NE: ああ、マジック・キャッスルとマジック・サークル(*ロンドンにある世界的に有名なマジシャンの団体兼マジック博物館)の会員だよ。マジシャンのサイモン・ドレイクがマジック・サークルで僕のスポンサーになってくれているんだ。もう何でもしなきゃならないし、LAのマジック・キャッスルのオーディションも受けなきゃならなかった。一旦加入したら、何でもやらなくちゃならなくなったんだよ。



NE: そりゃそうだよ!25万人の前でプレイするよりも緊張するよ(笑)。あらゆるマジックに長けたベテランのマジシャン、往年の名マジシャンが前にいるんだよ。そんな人たちにいい印象を与えようと思えば緊張するよ。

















NE: そのはずだったんだけどね。僕の飛行機が午後4時に着いて、コンサートは5時に始まった。空港からまっすぐ東京へ向かったんだけど、5時から6時半まで車に乗ってた(笑)。なんだかんだで成田から2時間半もかかったんだ。それでホテルに直行して、そこで彼とハグしたよ。すごくいい人さ。



NE: それで違ったわけ?

















NE:(笑)彼は僕のことを「でぶ野郎」って呼ぶんだよ!(笑)。君の質問に戻ると、バーバラ・ストライザンドの隣に立っていると、「どうしよう、何を言おう?」なんて思わないわけにはいかない(笑)。彼女は本当にかわいい人なんだ。彼女のスタジオで二人きりになったことがあってね。もう尊敬の念しかなかったね。とても素晴らしい人だった。僕はオバマ大統領時代にホワイトハウスで何度か演奏したことがあって、彼の就任記念のHBOコンサート「We Are One」でプレイしたんだ。ビヨンセ、スプリングスティーン、ジェイムズ・テイラーなどが出演して、もう音楽業界全体があの夜は盛り上がったんだ!スティーヴィー・ワンダー、ハービー・ハンコックも出た。それから8年の間に、あそこでは3、4回演奏したよ。そんな凄い人たちの隣に立っていたら、もう「ワォ!」しかないよ。言葉なんて出てこない。

















NE: 僕の両親のようなことは言いたくないと思うけどね(笑)。僕たちがビートルズを見つけた時には、彼らは「トミー・ドーシーのビッグバンドで十分だ。」なんて言ってたんだよね。それと同じような気もするんだ。僕たちは本当に豊かな時代の音楽を聴いてきたから、客観的な判断はできないけど。僕はコンピューターもそれで作る音楽も好きだけど、音楽にはコンピューターで事足りるとは思わない。子供たちとある晩コンサートに行ったんだ。そこにはミュージシャンがステージに居なかったんだ。ラップトップを操作してラップする男だけ。それを見て、僕がこの35年ないし40年の間にやってきたことって何だったのか、と自問したよ。ステージで演奏するということ自体が変わってしまったのか?ステージにはラップする男しかいない。別の日に東京ドームでエド・シーランを観た。彼は良かったよ。うまくループを駆使してた。オーディエンスも楽しんでいたしね。でも一つ思ったことがあったんだ。あれにベースを載せたかったな、って(笑)。相互作用というものが必要なんだ。二人以上の人間が集まれば、(笑)会話するようなレベルのことがね。


Q:『Reverence』の最後の曲「Until We Meet Again」が好きなんです。あの曲の背景には何があったのでしょうか?







NE: うん、いくつかはもう取り掛かっているところさ。でもレコードにするスケジュールを組めずにいるんだ。すべてを止めてじっくり集中するという時間が必要だからね。電話で指示されるみたいにアルバムを作るなんてことはしたくないからね。アルバムを作るということは、エヴェレストに登るみたいなことでね、いつも驚きに満ちているんだ。リスナーがこの小さな盤を敢えて聴きたいと思って取り上げてくれる。それに値する芸術を作り出す作業なんだ。








NE:パティ・ファミリー・シンガーズだった。末娘のサンディ・パティと僕は同じ学校に通っていたんだ。14歳の時だったかな、彼らが僕に声を掛けてくれて、アルバムを作ることになったんだ。素敵なアルバムでね、そこでベースを弾いている小僧は宝くじに当たったような気分だったんだ。若き日のサンディ・パティはその後偉大なクリスチャン・アーティストになったしね。それが僕の初めてのスタジオ・レコーディングだった。その後はバリー・ホワイトだったね。70年代の終わりにロサンゼルスに出て行って、彼のアルバムに参加したんだ。ジーン・ペイジがアレンジを担当していて、彼から電話がかかってきた。週に4日、サン・ディエゴから車を飛ばしてLAに通っていたよ。そしてとんぼ返りして、地元のヒルトン・カーゴ・バーに出演していたんだ(笑)。でも残念なことに、ミュージシャンのクレジットはされなかったんだ。当時、彼はナンバーワンだったから、誰にも彼のサウンドを盗ませないようにしたんだ。僕が参加する前はウィルトン・フェルダーがベースを弾いていたんだ。僕が入って「It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me」をやった(1977年)。それと何曲かをね。その時にリー・リトナーとレイ・パーカーなんかと会った。当時のLAのトップミュージシャンたちだ。当時は日記に誰と共演したかを記していたよ。それが「ヒット・スクォード」というLAのセッションチームだったんだ。それからいろいろなプロジェクトに推薦してもらえるようになったんだ。地味な仕事もしたよ。ハーツ・レンタカーのコマーシャルとかもやったし、このチームで60秒のテレビジングルとかもレコーディングしたね。






NE: いや、ないね。でもハル・ブレインとはジングルをやったことはあるよ。彼らも凄い量の仕事をこなしていた。でも彼らは僕の前の時代だったんだ。キャロル・ケイやなんかはね。僕は1980年にキャリアを開始したからね。





























NE:完璧なミュージシャンだね。ディスコ時代、クラブでプレイしていた時にはずっとビージーズの曲をレパートリーにしていたんだ。「Saturday Night Fever」や他のヒット曲をね。本人とスタジオで一緒になった時には、モーリスもロビンも素晴らしい人で、バリーも-彼とはずっと付き合っているんだけど-ね。三人とも素晴らしかった。マイアミに行く時には、いつもバリーとリンダと会うんだよ。














Q:数年前にドンにインタビューしたのですが、そのタイミングで「Hotel California」が日本のカラオケで最も人気のある洋楽ソングだと知ったんです。



Q:そうなんですよ。私は彼に「Hotel California」のコードはどうして思いついたのかを訊いたんです。彼はそこに座って15分間に亘って事細かに説明してくれたんですよ。素敵な人でした。




































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