Published November 1995, The Music Paper


Nature

The Marquis de Sade and Justine Bateman

"We don't revel in the breakdown of all traces of decency, basic human rights and the state of the planet in general," intones Nature bassist Hugh Bonar. "But, we do take that, uhm ... overall sense of decay as a given, and proceed from there when we write."

"There's a sort of millennial, end-of-the-world hysteria happening out there," offers vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Brian Threatt (pronounced Threet). "Everybody is totally convinced that the world is gonna end; but, nobody wants to envision what life beyond this century is gonna be like. We have a pretty good idea - and we don't have a problem with it."

"I think that the phrase, 'the end of the world,' is also used a lot as a general sort of threat to keep people under tight control," adds Bonar. "I'd much rather just proclaim or announce the end as an accomplished fact; and then take it from there."

Like the celebratory howl of a debauched, impassioned observer dancing gleefully at the end of the world; the music on this California four-piece's self-titled Zoo Entertainment debut is an edgy, powerful, occasionally unsettling blend of twisted funk/metal/industrial/techno and jazz influences overrun with Beatle-esque hooks, a swirling, fuzzy blanket of skittering guitars, odd samples, the penetrating sound of a thousand dental drills, alien doo-wop backing vocals and bleak, spawn-o'-the-devil lyrics about sex, violence, hunger, paranoia, serial killers, the antichrist, naked ambition, lust, depravity, the Marquis de Sade and Justine Bateman.

"We tend to think about our music in very visual, very graphic, terms," says drummer Brendan Etter. "Our songs are actually movies as songs. There's even a few very overt cinematic references in our music."

More than a few. Besides expressing his unrequited love for actress Bateman, who played Mallory on "Family Ties," in "Justine," Threatt wrote "Z-Man's Party" after being inspired by the Russ Meyer's film, Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls; sampled a chorus of demonic voices from Sam Raimi's Evil Dead II on "Cometh"; conceived "Zodiac 99" after reading about a group of serial killings; and came up with the inspired techno-remake of the James Bond theme song, "You Only Live Twice (2X)."

"Ahhh, Justine! Mallory! I wouldn't exactly
call the song a fixation ... It's more of a total fetish. She's probably not even aware
of the song, yet ... but, she will be."

~ Guitarist Brian Threatt ~

"We worked real hard on this album," enthuses guitarist Andrew Parsons. "If you really listen to it a few times, you'll notice all these different samples and oddities that you didn't hear the first two or three times swirling up out of the ooze."

"The way it usually works," offers Threatt by way of explaining his songwriting, "is, I'll bring in a sequence of noises, samples and odd electronic bullshit that I want to hear on a particular track, as well as a good idea of the actual song itself, from there, we just thrash it out as a full band for awhile until it sounds right as a whole."

"There's been a really strong chemistry between the four of us since the first time we played together," says Etter. "We were all into, kind'a, the same bizarre-type stuff and, right off, we had a way of playing together that just made the noise gel."

"I don't think any of us would survive in, say, a cover band or a conventional pop band," laughs Threatt. "But I also don't think any of us ever envisioned doing the sort of music that we're doing now. It just evolved this way. It took the four of us coming together to make Nature a reality."

"We get quite a few people at clubs who're just (affects a look of confused, slack-jawed incomprehension and complete revulsion)," chortles Bonar. "The rest of 'em just don't get it at all."

"Actually," corrects Threatt, "about half the crowd at most places seem to really enjoy us, while the other half act as if they're witnessing a particularly bad car wreck."

"Not that we've been playing to huge crowds of people on this tour," jokes Parsons. "But we are getting a few who come up to us after each show who're just ..."

"... totally blown away," marvels Etter. "The tour is doing, I guess, what it's supposed to do - in that we're getting out there and we're establishing our name."

After talking a bit more about playing live, the O.J. trial, song inspirations, movies, long drives, bad gigs, bad food and worse TV; the discussion somehow veers off into excited speculation and fond boyhood memories of sitcom actresses Tina Yothers, Dana Plato, Valerie Bertinelli, Meredith Baxter-Birney (hot mom!), two of the three Brady girls, Mackenzie Phillips (Justine's runner-up in the TV-Babe department) and, of course, Justine Bateman.

When pressed about the significance of "Justine," Threatt shivers briefly, gazes off into some unseen distance and moans thoughtfully, "Ahhh, Justine! Mallory! I wouldn't exactly call the song a fixation ... It's more of a total fetish. She's probably not even aware of the song, yet ... but, she will be."

"She was at a club in L.A. where a friend of ours was doing sound," laughs Etter. "But, he didn't have a copy of our tape with him."

"So close," exclaims a still-disappointed Threatt. "If we ever get to do a video for that song, I gotta get her and Tina Yothers to be in it."

"And Michael J. Fox," chuckles Bonar. "So we can kick his ass around a little bit."

 

-- AL MUZER