INTERVIEW: Chris (lead singer/guitar) and Nate (drummer)-Brothers from Svelt
By: Alex Steininger
Alex: First off...what are some of your musical influences?
Chris: My main are the Beattles, Mission Aberma (A Boston band), Devo, Husker Du, and Minute Men.
Nate: Mine go from Husker Du, to Devo, to Screwdriver.
Alex: Any modern day bands you like, but don't influence?
Chris: Yeah...Sterolab a lot, Beck, and um...uh.
Nate: Guided by Voices, Screwdriver, and Drifters.
Chris: Yeah...Drifters sounds good.
Alex: What are your band goals for 1997?
Nate: Um...Break even!
Chris: There you go...lose no more money! Put a new album out. People are still picking up the new album (Souvenir). Also, every year we do this Christmas tape for friends and people who have helped us out! Maybe record a single or an EP with Tony Lash.
Nate: Also, we are going to be touring a lot, and possibly a tour to Europe.
Chris: Truckadero/Rough Trade is our label in Europe, so we will probably be doing a tour in Europe.
Alex: On the road, what do you guys do for fun?
Chris: That's a good one.
Nate: Smack each other on the back of the head!
Chris: We go to a lot of amusement parks. We are getting ready for a tour down in California. We are going to go to Magic Mountain and Disneyland!
Nate: We don't have Gameboys yet. We play license plate games for fun. That lasts for about twenty minutes. Um...Travel bingo. A cow...OK...Barn...Bingo! That is pretty much my fun. Also, I like to look at the road side attractions.
Alex: What's your favorite city to play, and why?
Chris: Boise...Newport. We used to play the X-Ray when we were in Sprinkler. The X-Ray was fun!
Nate: Fav city? Newport...the most amazing light shows...Theatrical of lights...it was a Judice Priest show!
Alex: What's your guys favorite album of all-time?
Chris: Oh...well...my favorite of all time? There are some pretty good ones. There just flashing in my head.
Nate: I know...it hurts!
Chris: Get your Ya Yo's out by the Rolling Stones. Freedom of Choice by Devo. Also, all the Beattles albums!
Nate: The opposite for me on the Beattles. That is too early. First Nazareth...they are the best!
Alex: What goes into good music making for you guys?
Chris: I don't know. Nate and I playing for 10 years. There's the weird element in terms of working together. Watching each other evolve from bare bones. Everyone has ideas to bring in. It's not like a normal band setting. (A few things were said, but for some odd reason, I didn't record these parts down.) Also, shake your butt too, if you can line dance!
Nate: Now those kids are doing the Macarana.
Alex: What do you guys like about the business, and what do you hate?
Chris: On...the thing I like is, in Portland there are opportunities...like a Monday show at the Satyricon. Outside of the Monday...there are a lot of people involved! That is why we are self-managed. We don't like publishers, A & R, and labels. I also don't like the fact that there are so many people that would like influence. It isn't so simple.
Alex: If you guys could change anything in your musical careers, what would it be and why?
Nate: Chris' hair do from 1996 or 1995. It was when you shaved your hair.
Chris: That was like a year ago. We get to meet Devo on the California tour. They are our heroes. Hero worship with no meeting. For our video "Satisfaction", we did a shot by shot re-creation!
Nate: Relentless how we did the video the same.
Alex: How did Svelt get it's name?
Nate: Oh...it was...
Chris: Backtracking a bit...
Nate: Go ahead.
Chris: The worse experience a band will ever go through is getting their name. We decided...I decided...it was a weird lasting vow! We wanted something different. The normal word is with an e at the end. We didn't want to go to a show and have it say Svelte headlining and have people pronounce it Svelt-e. So we decided to drop the e. I think it looks better without the e.
Nate: Everyone comes up with a name. Five months in the band and the person who fronts the band picks a name...dust midget! You get to go to a show and go who the hell is "Dust Midget?," and the person that picked the name looks at you and says, "We are!" It's pretty bad, you go to a show and find out your in a band called, "Mustache!" Then right when you grow into it, you break up.
Alex: What are the highest and lowest points of your guys musical career?
Chris: The highest for me...the band Sugar were big fans of Sprinkler. Bob Mould listed Sprinklers' album as one of his top ten favorite albums, and Husker Du was a heavy influence for us. So that was a high point for me. Also playing with Nirvana at the Fox Theater the day Nevermind went gold. The last SXSW was also fun! We got to play with Pond. Low points are traveling. The traveling is very grueling.
Nate: The whole meeting Devo thing is a high point for me. The touring thing was very harsh. If we were done playing one show we had to get back in the van and drive to our next show. It was very grueling.
Alex: What's your favorite song you have recorded?
Chris: Um..."My Fool My Friend."
Nate: Me too!
Chris: I really hate forging the gap from now and where we are going. I also like Walt a lot, it is different.
Alex: If you could tour with anyone who would it be and why?
Nate: Think about it, just don't spit it out.
Nate: Come on...
Chris: I know who...Kiss! What we should do is a Portland Monster of Rock Tour. It would be hot. We should do it! Get Hazel, Quasi, and Heatmiser and tour the country! Take over the world!
Alex: Hey, you should do that! I would go!
Chris: Yeah, and have it sponsored by you!
Alex: Is there any road experiences that stand out?
Nate: Thousands! One time we were touring and our horn wouldn't turn off! We were like, "What the hell is going on?" Every time it was replaced and we couldn't figure out what was wrong. Another time we had our tire blow up.
Chris: Your forgetting the best! Remember South by Southwest?
Nate: I was working up to that. OK, so the tire just doesn't blow up, it crunches under the van. Also, at the SXSW (South by Southwest) we got our van towed. We were the only band at SXSW to get our van towed. The truck driver was a freak! A scary Texan! It was Friday and we had Thirty minutes to find a place. We needed to get the van out by Saturday. The van was fixed on time. It was fixed while we were playing!
Chris: Also, we played the Corn Palace. The whole thing was decorated artistically with corn.
Nate: It was Awesome.
Chris: Also, Las Vegas. We lost $300 playing a few games.
Alex: What made you guys want to be in a band?
Chris: My parents. They forced us. They made us play together since we were brothers! We could either get summer jobs or form a band. We were always around music, so we thought why not give it a try!
Nate: Yeah...we were forced! We started off easy, playing hardcore music.
Alex: What are your thoughts on the Portland Scene?
Chris: I think it's pretty cool. There are up and flows of millions of bands, then there are four. With a town this size we are very lucky. It is kinda of easy to get spoiled! There are a lot of good things!
Alex: Do either of you guys have a favorite local band?
Chris: Yeah, I have a couple! There is Pond, Quasi, and the Maroons are great.
Nate: Yep, mines the same. Also Heatmiser!
Alex: Yeah, Heatmiser's drummer Tony Lash produces almost all Portland bands, what's up with that?
Chris: He makes his living. It's his job. He's very good.
Alex: I read something about Capitol Records trying to sign you, but not liking the tape you cut for them. What is the situation?
Chris: Basically, long ago, an A & R guy came into Ozone and they were playing our EP, and he heard the Ditty 45. It was free for us to record, and it was very fun in the studio.
Nate: Yeah, he wanted stuff that sounded like Ditty. Fifty songs that sounded like Ditty. There was a free meal involved, so it was cool.
Chris: Of course, every hand just happens. It didn't work out. So that was that.
Alex: I also read a lot about a love for amusement parks. What is your favorite park and favorite ride?
Chris: I know one that is fun, but not my favorite. Disneyland's Splash Mountain! One deal, hands down the best is Colossus at Magic Mountain.
Nate: Um...there is very few parks in the Northwest. My favorite ride is the Powalla. It's open for three weeks in September and is the only wooden roller coaster in the Northwest. It is so great for how far it is. It tricks you. It looks very wimpy, but there is nothing to keep you from falling out. I took Chris and Sam when we played Seattle. Also, near Salem we have our own little Disneyland, the Enchanted Forest.
Alex: What inspires you guys to write songs? Personal, fiction?
Chris: I don't know! The sound comes before the lyrics. It is very hard to say. We will work on the musical features first, and then the sounds come out of lyrics. If it is a good song, the lyrics are the hardest part. We use all sorts of inspiration. Personal, sometimes fiction. Like Shrunken Head. It was a little more outside of the usual.
Alex: Well thanks for the interview. Have a good day.
Nate: Yeah, you too.