For singer-songwriter Israel Nash, his tour stop in Columbia at Mojo’s will hold more sentimentality than most artists who blow through town. Nash, who’s scheduled to perform Tuesday, spent his younger and more vulnerable years attending MU as an undergrad and graduate student, becoming heavily entrenched in Columbia’s local scene.
The Neil Young-esque rocker, with a grainy voice that sings of finding love and living in solitude, found his way in the CoMo scene. Since leaving school, he has released three albums while extensively touring the U.S. and Europe. In preparation for his concert, Nash spoke with MOVE about music in relation to his beginnings in rural Missouri, his times at MU and his current residence in the country outside of Austin, Texas.
MOVE Magazine: How did growing up in Missouri shape your life, musically?
Israel Nash: I grew up around the Ozarks. Coming to Columbia was my first time really around a metropolitan area. My dad was a pastor, so small churches in Missouri and places where people just sang and didn’t care. But being in small towns, you don’t know what you’re supposed to do if you want to really pursue music. So, coming to Columbia, that’s when things really started happening in my musical career.
MM: Who were your biggest musical influences growing up?
IN: I grew up on my dad’s collection of classic rock. I got into Creedence (Clearwater Revival), Zeppelin, the Stones, all those rock bands. Those groups really defined what it was to be in a band with guys you knew forever and worked so well with.
MM: When did you realize you wanted to pursue music professionally?
IN: It wasn’t so much when I knew, because I knew for a while, it was more of the idea of what I could do. The first time I thought about it was when I was 14 years old. When I was in Columbia I went through different transitions where I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do.
MM: Were you a regular at Mojo’s while you went to MU?
IN: Absolutely. I especially loved the local scene, and I was in a group while living in Columbia. That was my first when I got interested in going down a singer-songwriter path.
MM: You seem to have a somewhat rural, “traveler’s blues” kind of sound on your most recent album. Did that have anything to do with you living outside of Austin?
IN: That album really shows the most recent chapter of my life. I have a house now outside of Austin with almost 15 acres in the country. I can channel the solace of isolation in the country into my music pretty easily.
MM: You have a somewhat similar musical style to Neil Young. Do you identify with him at all?
IN: I do, definitely. One thing Neil brings to the table is that he’s a true artist. I love artists who follow the mentality of doing whatever you want, as long as it’s what you love.
MM: What was working with (former Sonic Youth drummer and producer) Steve Shelley like?
IN: Steve just has an incredibly broad taste in music, and an especially strong love for traditional folk and songwriting. So he was a cool guy to bounce ideas off, since he has such a great perspective.
MM: What’s your favorite part of life on the road?
IN: The guys who are in my band are my best friends, so we just have such a great time together. Also, it’s rewarding to play on the road and have fans seek us out to thank us for our music. When I say that, I mean real thanks, real, honest gratitude for what we do. It’s nice to know some people are listening.