“London blew my mind at first – there were so many radical freaks here…”, Nathan Howdeshell from Gossip
Nathan Howdeshell, founder member and guitarist with Gossip since 1999, dropped by the Spotify office this week to DJ in the Soundrop room. Sat surrounded by notes scribbled with ideas for tracks, bottles of cold beer and water and a softly-humming laptop, Nathan plays a Jacques Renault remix of New York’s Midnight Magic, some Danish no-wave from Iceage, the spaced-out dub of Wisconsin’s Peaking Lights too and the Anglo-German singer-songwriter, Anika.
“There’s so much cool stuff on Spotify,” he laughs. “I do a little record label of my own and I’m finding things on here that even I’ve forgotten about…”
The Gossip formed in rural Arkansas, how did underground music reach you there?
Mostly from pen pals writing to each other. That’s how Beth and I found out about Riot Grrrl and that’s what really got us started. There were a lot of mixtapes going around and I set up a show for Calvin Johnstone’s band when I was still in high school.
Was alcohol really banned in your home town, Searcy?
Yeah – it was a shitty-ass town! You’d have to drive 30 or 40 minutes just to buy a bunch of wine. As you can imagine, London blew my mind when I first came here – there were so many radical freaks. Nowadays most of my friends are scattered throughout the world, but the British were the first people to accept The Gossip, so it does always feel a bit special here, especially for Beth. We felt like those free jazz cats going to Paris in the 60s. England always had their hands out, ready to accept us.
You clearly enjoy DJing…
Oh I really do. I play a lot of records at parties – but I’m a selector. I play at a honkytonk dive bar near me and it’s all old country records. Doc Boggs, Skip James, Johnny Cash – I want people to dance and have fun. My dad’s a hillbilly who only listens to country music and I find myself loving it more and more. At home on the farm I fix fences and take care of cattle and country is the soundtrack to my life.
What five records made you the person you are?
The No New York compilation of late 70s downtown NYC bands is way beyond punk, it’s so cool. Suicide’s first album is amazing – they called themselves punk in 1972, before anyone had ever used the phrase to describe a sound. The first Stooges album is an incredible record as is Charles Mingus’ Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. And, of course, the first Ronettes LP.
Does anything link all of them?
Minimalism. I like primitive sounding music and they’re all very primitive! I like the spirit of rebellion that you can hear in them.
What’s the greatest record ever made?
Well, everything came from blues, so it must be a blues record. That’s a hard question. That first Suicide album I mentioned already is one of my favourite records ever, it still sounds futuristic, that’s pretty amazing. But then, Jackie Brenston’s song Rocket ’88’ was probably the first rock and roll record back in 1951, so that’s kind of important too!