Nash Kato Comes Around to Our Way of Thinking [classic article]

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Chicagoan Nash Kato is the rangy and pallid 34-year-old former lead singer of Urge Overkill. His albums include Jesus Urge Superstar, Americruiser, Supersonic Storybook (includes a brilliant cover of “Emmaline”), Stull (featuring a version of Neal Diamond’s “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon,” which provided the soundtrack to Uma Thurman’s coke segment in Pulp Fiction), Saturation and Exit the Dragon.

One frigid night about 12 years ago, Nash showed up to see a fellow Chicago band (this site’s namesake, in fact) at the Uptown, a groovy bar and eatery in Minneapolis. The band had heard about a post-show party at the home of a fan. Nash, then known as Nate, asked if he and “King” Roeser, then known as Ed, could tag along. Certainly. They insisted that the van stop at an all-night store, where they bought 40-ouncers — a good year or so before NWA introduced malt liquor to suburban hipsters. At the party, Nate and Ed huddled around the stereo and played the same ZZ Top side (this is when music had sides) over and over and over. They wouldn’t relinquish the stereo, and they finished each other’s sentences, often injecting phrases that only they understood. That night, they were the strangest and coolest gentlemen in Minneapolis, and possibly the world.

Kato’s latest is his first solo effort, Debutante, released on Loosegroove/Will Records. I spoke to Nash on his cell while he waited for service in a restaurant. His publicist hadn’t told him that Bankrate is about money, so he was a little thrown by all my financial questions. But he was cool with it, even before I explained. That’s how he is.

GREEN: So, what kinds of things are you doing to promote Debutante?

NASH KATO: Well, I’ve toured a few cities … Kansas City, Tucson, San Diego.

You display many musical styles on your CD; are you hoping to appeal to a broader audience?

I don’t know. I don’t have an audience in mind. I compose for my own amusement. I had no time constraints, no preconceived notions.

How did you first find out that “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” would be used in Pulp Fiction?

They just called and asked. I got to go to the pre-screening in Los Angeles. It was pretty cool.

What kind of money was involved there?

I wouldn’t know. It’s stupid money, really amazing in Hollywood. I’ve had a couple of walk-ons, Wayne’s World, singing the National Anthem in Kingpin. It’s unbelievable, the money.

After that experience, is it tempting to cash in on a very commercial market and aim for just soundtracks, backgrounds, etc.?

I like doing soundtrack work. I’ve done tracks for Me, Myself & Irene, the Jim Carrey movie.

Did you always know that you’d be successful?

No. There’s never a guarantee. I don’t know what success is. I guess my definition is that I’m still doing it 15 years later … the one job I’ve never been fired from.

Did you take music classes as a kid?

No. I had some guitar, but I wasn’t disciplined. I wasn’t that good … that hasn’t changed.

Do you manage your own money?

No. I have an accountant in L.A. That’s standard. All bands have an accountant.

Do you have any investments?

No. I was never an expert, never much of a gambler. Is this a money magazine or something? What’s with all the money questions?

Yeah, we’re all about money. Well, what’s a splurge for you?

I have pretty stellar soirees at The Bank, parties where you can’t recall the evening’s events. I do Christmas parties every year. I used to do a barbecue in the summer. I go crazy with threads, shopping. It’s hard for me to shop, I grab two of everything.

What’s something you would not spend money on?

CDs. There are so many bad ones.

Do you feel that you live the “star” lifestyle?

I’m a regular Joe. I try not to let it go to my head — I’ve grown out of it. I’m sensible. You never know when it’ll all go away. You’ve got to enjoy it.

So, when you left Touch and Go Records for Geffen, was that hard? Any problems?

No. It was a natural graduation. We simply outgrew the resources of any indies.

Steve Albini wrote an article analyzing the financial advantages of independent labels vs. the majors. He concluded that nearly every band that signs with a major winds up hosed. What’s your opinion on the different types of labels?

It depends on the artist and what they’re trying to accomplish. I sing the praises of either.

Throughout your years of playing, have you been able to save any money?

I’d like to say “yes,” but I’d be lying. I don’t bank on the future. Enjoy it now.

Why did you part ways with “King” Roeser?

The band burned out. We needed a break. It wasn’t even discussed. We’d been together for over 10 years, most marriages last 6 years. It was the one thing we could agree on. Hey, my steak just arrived. It’s got blue cheese on top.

Are you involved with any charities?

I do a benefit show here and there. I can’t farm out any money to charities. My favorite charity is me!

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