We talk to King of the Emerald Isle, Nathan Carter
by Chloe McLaughlin
Liverpool lad Nathan Carter has taken Ireland by storm with his cheeky charm, incredible voice and modern take on country classics. Moving over to The Emerald Isle at just 18, Nathan has worked hard to cement himself as one of Ireland’s best singers. Now, fresh from a tour of America, this northern lad is heading back to the UK to tour his latest show Born For The Road which will feature a whole host of Nathan’s best hits.
“We’re doing a lot of songs from my new album also titled Born For The Road and myself and my 70s band have been on tour for six months. We start our UK tour at the start of the year. I like to think it’s a very energetic show. There are some old songs that I’ve recorded through the years and some brand new stuff. I do a good few ballads, a good few country songs and a good few Irish Celtic songs. It’s a big lighting, big sound, big band show and I like to think it’s a show that anyone could come to and be entertained so hopefully people will enjoy themselves.”
Hailing from Liverpool, I wondered if Nathan was looking forward to heading back to the UK?
“Yes! I look forward to it. We do a tour every year across England and Scotland and I absolutely love coming back. I get to see a lot of family and friends who I wouldn’t see so it’s great.”
Nathan has fond memories of growing up in Liverpool and despite being in Ireland for over ten years he still loves going back.
“I love Liverpool. I love the way it changes every time I go back – there’s new bars and there’s always work been done down at The Docks. It’s just a great city with fantastic people. No matter where I go, I meet Liverpool people. They have a great sense of humour there so I love going back.”
Despite loving the new bars in Liverpool there is one drink he won’t be having over here… Guinness!
“I don’t drink it in the UK. I think it’s that good in Ireland you couldn’t drink it anywhere else. It doesn’t travel well for some reason!” Nathan laughs.
Nathan originally moved to Ireland after being offered the chance to do gigs over there once he left school. After a successful tour he decided to put a band together and stay but he admits the first few years were tough.
“We were going on stage playing to 30-40 people some nights and it was pretty rubbish.” He sighs, “But then we had a bit of success chart wise and a few of our tracks got played on the radio all the time and it went from playing small pubs and bars to playing big halls then theatres and recently to playing arenas and it’s going the same way in the UK. We started off in pubs and now we’re getting to see the likes of the London Palladium which is an iconic venue. It’s great and a lot of people in the UK would not have heard of me. It’s kind of under the radar the way my music has got out.”
He adds: “Ireland was a good move for me and that’s why I’ve stayed. The demand seems to have been here which is great and I’ve made the most of it.”
Nathan has been singing since he was just five years old and openly admits there ‘was nothing else’ he wanted to do.
“I’ve always stuck at it. I left school at 17 to start gigging in the pubs and bars in the North West and haven’t turned back since. Music has become my life.”
Nathan has even performed for Pope Francis – something he describes as a ‘huge honour’:
“We sang a cover of REM’s Everybody Hurts and we did it with a choir that did sign language as they were all deaf. We sang in front of 80,000 people in the stadium in Dublin and it was televised all over the world. It was a huge honour and one of the biggest gigs of my career.”
Nathan might be young but he can’t escape being likened to the King of Irish music – Daniel O’Donnell – so how does he feel he compares?
“Daniel does a good bit of country music and I do – not the same stuff – mine’s more modern but Daniel is a great ambassador for music in general. He’s been [singing] for 40 years and still manages to sell out a lot of venues and has a huge fan base. I definitely take inspiration from him. I think longevity is key in this business. I have massive respect for people who can be in the business that long.”
With his modern take on country, Nathan has opened the genre to a whole new wave of younger fans and I wondered how he felt about bringing country to a new generation?
“I suppose it’s a big honour. When I started in Ireland a lot of younger people were coming out to see country music for a change which was definitely always considered a more ‘older generation’ style of music. I guess I was young, 19 or 20, singing this kind of stuff and tried to make it more modern and that attracted a young age group. It’s great to see. It keeps music alive and just to see young people coming out to live gigs and seeing the actual musicians play is great. I love a live band and live music.”
With so much of his life spent on tour I wondered how Nathan managed to keep himself in shape?
“I try to hit the gym a couple of times a week whenever I can. It’s pretty tough when you’re on the road as some hotels don’t have gyms and sometimes you’re on a bus where there isn’t a hope of doing exercise. It’s hard to eat right as well – especially in America – we couldn’t get over how much fat was in the food! But I am pretty conscious and try to keep fit. I’m not really a sporty person but whenever I’m home in Ireland I do circuits, classes and weights.”
And with the season of change upon us I wondered if he had a new years resolution?
“Practising a bit more on piano and I’m a decent cello player but I could be a lot better so I need to start practising that. Maybe go to the gym a bit more!”
Nathan’s brother Jake is also a singer. One might expect there to be a little bit of good old fashioned sibling rivalry but Nathan insists this isn’t the case.
“We’ve just recorded a Christmas single together that he co-wrote. He’s a different genre – he sings a lot of pop – whereas I’m more country and folk. We help each other out when we can and I love to see him do well as he’s a very hard worker.”
But despite their different genres Nathan does have fond memories of jamming with Jake at home in Liverpool as kids.
“Jake used to play the fiddle so I’d be playing guitar and he’d get his fiddle out and we’d be playing tunes! We still do when we have a few pints. No doubt at Christmas we’ll be getting the instruments out!” He laughs.
Nathan is now hoping to have success in the UK and America to match that in Ireland.
“I’d love to get to the UK a bit more and maybe do more TV. I’d also love to get my next album in the UK Top Ten – that would be incredible.”
Well, we’re sure he’ll get there! If you’d like to see Nathan on his tour head to nathancartermusic.com.