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Nate Grover of Love is Chemicals

The Icing on the Cake

The buzz surrounding Love is Chemicals has settled to a din lately, but the San Francisco band recently reached two major milestones. A year after the band self-released its sophomore album, Song of the Summer Youth Brigade was re-released by SF-based label Three Ring Records. It also recently completed its most extensive tour to date -- a weeklong trek around the Pacific Northwest. But don't expect any great changes with the group. Nate Grover (vocals/guitar) is content juggling band duties and his multiple day jobs. He spoke with SF Station during a phone interview from his cubicle during a break. Love is Chemicals performs at Bottom of the Hill on August 16th.

SF Station (SFS): Why donít you have a cell phone?

Nat Grover (NG): Iím kind of a Luddite. I do e-mail, but I donít have a cell phone and Iím not very involved on the internet. I donít know why that is; it just turned out that way.

SFS: What have you been up to with Love is Chemicals?

NG: We did a weeklong tour in the Northwest and weíve been kind of wiped out, so we havenít done a lot lately. The dates were in conjunction with the re-release of Song of the Summer Youth Brigade by Three Ring Records.

SFS: Are you going to have national distribution now?

NG: Yeah, when I initially called them up, all I wanted was a little bit of help with distribution. But, they really liked the album and ended up doing the whole thing. We were really happy with that.

SFS: Are you working on new material?

NG: We have almost 20 news songs that we have in part, but we havenít been able to get together to work on them. We are trying to take a little bit of a break to give us some time to put the songs together.

SFS: You are in the band with you wife, Courtney (bass/vocals). Does it consume a lot of your time together?

NG: It does, but it is what we like doing. Our parents harass us about having kids and we say, ďYouíve seen the CD, havenít you?Ē This is kind of our baby and what we enjoy and want to do.

SFS: Did you meet through music?

NG: No, we met through friends a long time ago. I actually taught Courtney how to play bass. Weíve been doing this a really long time. It started out with four-track recording in our bedroom and has moved onward and upward as we added more people.

SFS: Are you where you want to be with the band at this stage in your career?

NG: Yeah, I couldnít be happier with the way things have been going with this latest CD. I grew up driving to San Francisco to see shows at places like Bottom of the Hill. I always thought that is where I want to be. Last year we had our CD release show there and it was almost full of people. There was great crowd reaction and we were playing with lots of friends that we made here that are in other bands. It was exactly what I had planned, so everything after is just going to be frosting on the cake.

SFS: Was there anything else that pulled you from your hometown Cupertino to SF?

NG: Originally, I wanted to be a scientist and I moved up here to go to school. I was a really bad scientist and kept on breaking the glassware. I was always the last one to leave the lab and my experiments never worked out.

I dropped out, but I was already living here. Eventually I went back to school and got an art degree, which is more fitting to my personality. Once you move to the city, where else could you go?

SFS: You also do some writing. What do you write about when you are not working on songs?

NG: When I was in grad school, I wrote a short-story collection. I write kind of surreal stories that are really hard to describe. There are a lot of monsters and kids getting hurt and falling off roofs. I write a lot of fairytale-type stories, but they are kind of messed up fairy tales. There are usually a lot of religious overtones to what I write.

SFS: Is there any interplay between that type of writing and your music writing?

NG: I used to not think so, but lately I feel like the subject matter of what I write about and what I write music about are joined together. I feel, at least with lyric writing, you get a lot better the more you use words. When you are trying to write a line for a song, it helps to have the experience and vocabulary of writing stories.

SFS: Is the instrumentation of your new songs any different than the last album?

NG: Itís a lot darker than it was before. People generally call us a kind of a sun-shiny, California band. We are still that, and itís hard for us to do anything without being a little bit cute about it, but the new stuff is quite a bit darker. We have a new drummer, and every time you change somebody in the band, everything changes. But, Iím not sure why it got darker. Maybe I got bored of writing happy songs.

The way the band is working together now is really good. Everyone is more focused and itís really had a positive effect on the music. Everybody is more interested and putting more heart into it, which I think is really exciting.

SFS: Are you aspiring to make the band a full-time endeavor?

NG: I donít know. It would be fun to do for a little while, but I can't say the goal we are aspiring toward is quitting our jobs. I know that is what every band dreams, but I guess I've been doing this long enough that it fits in my life in a way that works for me. I don't see any reason to change it.

SFS: You don't want to go on a wild and crazy tour?

NG: I'm married, so the groupies are useless to me. My wife is on the stage, so what can you do? Touring is fun and it's great to take your music in another town. It's something I like to do, but full time, it might get hairy.

Love is Chemicals performs at Bottom of the Hill on August 16th. Tickets are $8 and the show starts at 8pm.