London’s Loose Music record label has brought us some excellent albums through the years; their claim to be ‘Europe’s premier Americana and alt country record label’ is no idle boast. Even though they’ve recently issued an album of classic country with Sturgill Simpson’s debut ‘High Top Mountain’, the Loose album that really hits the mark each and every time is American singer-songwriter Israel Nash Gripka’s third album ‘Rain Plans’.

‘Rain Plans’ is that album that you just can’t help retuning to. Although thought-provoking, its nine tracks are all instantly accessible. Yet every time it’s like hearing the songs again for the first time; there is just so much to discover. Extensive touring, especially in Europe, has resulted in Nash building up quite a following, and the extra attention his latest collection of songs has gained through Loose Music is going to widen that audience even further.

We are not going to be the last to pick up on the Neil Young and Crazy Horse feel that some of the songs on ‘Rain Plans’ display, but that’s just a small part of Nash’s overall sound and attraction. Nash is one of those songwriters whose lyrics paint little snapshots in your head; one who takes you on his journey while the musical landscape always developing behind his vocals is constantly captivating.

Nash’s music has developed over his three studio albums (there is also a live album, ‘Barn Doors Spring Tour, Live In Holland’ from 2011); how much of this was due to Nash changing his surroundings was but one question we had hoped to put to Nash at some point; Nash originally hailed from Missouri, but then spent some years living in New York City before taking residence in Texas.

Nash is currently touring Europe promoting ‘Rain Plans’, but still found time to answer some questions so we could learn a little more about his background and how he came to record what is shaping up to be one of the best Americana albums released in the past few years.


PB: ‘Rain Plans’ your third and latest album, maybe due to the glowing reviews it received and a new record label, was the introduction for many to your music. Can you tell us a little about how you started in music and about those first two albums?

ING: I’ve been playing in bands since I was a teenager, and started working on the solo project, and decided New York City was the place to be. So, I moved there after receiving a couple grand from the insurance company after totalling my car. After getting my feet on the ground, I recorded my debut album, ‘New York Town’, in Manhattan at the Magic Shop.

After that process, I really started thinking of alternative places to make records. I really just grew tired of the formality of the studio. So for ‘Barn Doors’, I rented a house named ‘Harvard Farm’ in Upstate New York, in the heart of the Catskill Mountains. I got together gear and a trailer, and we recorded in the barn on the property with the doors wide open the whole time. I have since been sold on this idea of getting away and being submerged in the recording process. It’s an amazing way to make albums.

PB: ‘Rain Plans’ is the first album recorded after your move to Texas. Did your new surroundings influence the music on this album?

ING: Without a doubt! I never knew how much my music could change with the move. But coming from New York City to Dripping Springs, TX was a needed change in my life. I find that once you encounter personal life change, your art will follow suit. It’s about progression, moving forward. Look for tomorrow in your life, but make today count as well.

PB: It’s very much a band-sounding album. Have you played with the musicians on ‘Rain Plans’ before?

ING: Yes. I had met the core of the band in New York and they were originally Texas guys. Joey (guitar), Aaron (bass), and Eric (pedal steel) were on ‘Barn Doors’ too. Now we all are down here under the Texas sun. But these guys are my best friends off the stage as well. That makes a difference. So much is about the talent of the players, the songs, etc., but environment may be the most important aspect of all. Comfort in the ones around you lifts life and art to a new level.

PB: On your current tour are the same musicians featured or do you have a separate touring band? Maybe it’s more of a solo tour?

ING: I was recently out supporting Midlake with Eric, my pedal steel player. We were doing the duo thing. But generally I prefer to play with the band. That’s how these songs were written, with a band in mind, and more specifically, the band that I chose. Joey plays lead guitar for Midlake now. So unfortunately, he’s been out for this tour cycle. But everyone else, they’re all ‘Rain Plans’ personnel.

PB: ‘Rain Plans’ is a classic guitar album. Maybe that is one of the reasons Neil Young and Crazy Horse have been cited as influences in the reviews. For those train spotters among us how much of that amazing guitar work is yours?

ING: Unfortunately, I can take very little credit for the incredible guitar work of ‘Rain Plans’. That’s Joey McClellan. I played a lot of acoustic parts and a few insanely delayed harmonics and bends, but Joey really brought the sonic picture of guitars to this work. Hats off.

PB: You self-produced the album. Is that your first time producing? It’s a full, accomplished sound you’ve captured there, but unexpectedly intimate too, it’s almost like the listener is in the room with the band at times.

ING: I co-produced ‘Barn Doors’ and ‘Concrete Floors’ with Steve Shelley and my engineer, Ted Young. That gave me a lot of confidence going into ‘Rain Plans’. I just had really clear direction as to where I wanted to go.

Essentially, I wanted the record to sound like the way the Hill Country looked to me. It was recorded to a 16 track Studer tape machine. The whole band, even the engineer, was in one room together...my living room in fact. I’m glad you can hear the intimacy. I wanted that too.

PB: How complete were the songs and arrangements before you went into the studio and recorded the songs? Tracks like ‘Myer Canyon’ have that loose-but-together vibe that gives the impression that at times the band just went with the flow.

ING: The songs were very complete. I make demos for the songs and go a little crazy with ideas, but get a picture together. Then I send the songs with nothing but me and a guitar to the band so they are not totally led by the demo. You can never live by a demo. You have to be open to change, and that’s the beauty of playing with other musicians. It’s never all about me. It’s always so much bigger than myself. Making a record takes a village. So, ultimately, there is this idea that things could always change, and sometimes they did.

‘Myer Canyon’ was the first track we recorded for ‘Rain Plans.’ At the end, everyone was thinking we needed a jam of some sort. So, like a band, we just played around a bit, and I came up with the music for the ending. I like to say that I build the house, but the band helps fill it with furniture and decor. We all need each other.

PB: How long did recording take? Almost six months on from first hearing the album it still amazes with each listen. The title song alone is one of those songs you can just lose yourself in; a considerable amount of time must have gone into creating that surely?

ING: Thank you so much for continuing your listening experience with this album. That means everything to me.

‘Rain Plans’ was one of those songs that kind of came together very quickly one day when I had some time alone here in TX. I introduced it to the band, and we started playing it live for shows during the ‘Barn Doors’ tour. When we set to record it for the new album, I told the guys that just because we had been playing it a certain way for a while live we could start over and make changes. It went from a four minute song to an eight minute song. Some songs need to be long.

PB: You have toured extensively, not only in the States but Europe and Scandinavia too where your live shows have been very well received. Do you feel that your music is more readily accepted in Europe than it is in the States?

ING: I’m not sure. I love Europe. The fans, the culture, the experience is one of a kind.

PB: Having toured the album for a while now are there any songs you look back on and wish you’d recorded a little differently?

ING: Not at all. I don’t look back much on that kind of thing. I feel like a record is a record, because it’s a record of time. It’s a snapshot of where I was when I wrote it and recorded it. There’s beauty in that I think.

PB: Is there any particular song that you especially enjoy playing live?

ING: I like playing ‘Rain Plans’ from front to back as an album. We did that on the last tour, and I felt it was a great way to present the album.

PB: There’s a common sound running through ‘Rain Plans’. While each song is very much a separate entity all nine songs seem to be vaguely connected in some way. Not quite one long song split into nine distinct sections but they all have an overall sound. It flows brilliantly. Were all the songs written around the same time?

IGN: These songs were all written in a shorter period than previously. It’s a strange thing I’ve encountered, but I thought having a lot of time was the best way to write, but then I became busier and busier touring, which seemed to take away the loads of time to write. But basically, it made me write and made me focus. So, these songs were all written pretty closely together.

PB: With all the touring promoting the album have you found time to write any new songs or made any plans for a follow-up yet?

ING: I am writing new material. I think we’re going to record this fall after festival season.

PB: Finally, with such strong songs on your own album what music do you listen to as you are touring the world?

ING: My recent list includes the amazing Nick Drake’s ‘Five Leaves Left’; Pink Floyd’s ‘Meddle’; and some prog rock stuff too. ‘Tubular Bells’. That’s pretty amazing too.

PB: Thank you.











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