Nathan Bowles :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

In his review of Nathan Bowles' latest LP Whole and Cloven for Aquarium Drunkard, writer Tyler Wilcox asks: "Is banjo futurism a thing? Probably not, but if it was Nathan Bowles would be leading the charge."

Wilcox makes an excellent point. Like his previous solo records have demonstrated -- in addition his work with the Black Twig Pickers, Pelt, Steve Gunn, and the late, great Jack Rose -- Bowles approaches traditional music with an adventurist spirit. Whole & Cloven, released by the sturdy folks at Paradise of Bachelors, takes his elemental clawhammer banjo approach and expands it outward, exploring dynamic minimalism and driving boogie. It's centerpiece, the 11-minute "I Miss My Dog" wordlessly conveys an emotional journey. By the time it's done, you're not only missing your own dog, but Bowles' too.

Recently, AD called up Bowles while he was on tour through Virginia with singer/songwriter Jake Xerxes Fussell. Below, our discussion, edited and condensed for clarity.

Nathan Bowles :: Gadarene Fugue

Aquarium Drunkard: Whole & Cloven is your first record since moving from Virginia to North Carolina, right?  
Nathan Bowles: That's correct, yeah. All of Nansemond was written and developed in  Blacksburg. Now that I think about it, the songs on Whole & Cloven were pretty much written in Blacksburg too, and I recorded it last November before moving.

AD: What inspired that move?
Nathan Bowles: I have a fair amount of musical friends in Durham. I always liked the feel of the's got a lot of variety culturally, musically.

AD: Did Nansemond feel specifically tied to the setting of Virginia?

Nathan Bowles: Yeah. All of those songs were inspired by thinking back on childhood and how the place where I grew up had changed a lot geographically.

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