Interview: Nathan Arthur (formerly Arthure)

I had the opportunity to chat with progressive extreme metal solo-artist, Nathan Arthur, formerly known as Arthure. We discussed his project's history, his love for Extol, the name change, and his faith, among other things. Enjoy!

Introduce yourself for those who might not be familiar with you.

Nathan: Hi, I’m Nathan Arthur: guitar player, songwriter, engineer, and producer. I work out of my little apartment in Chicagoland.

What is your musical background and how long have you been making music professionally?

Nathan: I started playing acoustic guitar when I was about eight years old. I played songs from Nickelback (Maybe I shouldn’t start the interview off with that) and Christian Contemporary music. At the time I remember playing “Grace Like Rain” by Todd Agnew on repeat. I eventually got into heavy metal when my friend showed me “Before I Forget” by Slipknot in our public library because that was the only place you had fast internet back then. Of course, after hearing of all the cool sounds I could make, I saved my money up and purchased my first electric guitar. I then found Extol. I spent my formative years unintentionally focused on ear training. I learned both guitar parts and every solo to the entire Extol discography from Burial to Synergy. I went to college for music performance, was trained on guitar classically, then decided to pursue audio production after finding a passion for recording, mixing, and producing.

I don’t know if I would call it “professional,” but I’ve been writing and recording ever since I found out that DAWs existed, which was around 16 years old I guess.

Who is your biggest musical influence?

Nathan: Extol for sure. I absolutely love everything about every album. The creative darkness of earlier albums like Burial and Undeceived, and the twisted insanity of Synergy. I also attribute a lot of my writing from Meshuggah and David Maxim Micic. I love “balls-to-the-wall” sorts of heaviness (Vild Hjarta, Car Bomb, etc), but I’ve never been much good at creating that sound. I’ve always thought of my music as “trying to be heavy, but not quite getting there,” and also “trying to be musically mature, but not quite getting there.”

Recently I’ve been mellowing out my musical tastes. As a producer, I’ve found the most likely places to find work are pop and singer-songwriter-type clients. Groups like Oh Wonder, Lydia, Valley, and Flor are regular listens for me now.

Why is Ole Børud such an influence on you?

Nathan: The man does it all. He composed most of Extol’s early music alongside Christopher Espivol. He also birthed the insane child that is Synergy. During his time in Extol, he was also slowly building a completely different fanbase in the pop-funk scene. He is now a funk legend in Norway (check out Ole’s discography if you haven’t yet). He also wrote all the music for Fleshkiller, one of the heavier movements in his current musical career. Everything he has a hand in mixing and producing sounds incredible. Having coffee with Mr. Børud someday is definitely on my bucket list.. I don’t live near Norway though, and international travel is kind of out of the question.

Where are you based out of and what is the local music scene like there?

Nathan: I’m based in Chicagoland. Unfortunately because of the pandemic, the music scene is pretty dead. But generally it’s an extremely diverse area musically speaking. Any sort of music you want, Chicago’s got it.

What’s the history of this project, how did you get started?

Nathan: Talking about the “Arthure” project, I just started recording myself at a young age. The only goal was to write music that I enjoy.. and it still is. If others enjoy it, that’s a huge plus.. but I’ve always known my ideas are not especially palatable to the average audiophile. If you’re one of the very few who enjoys what I’ve released, thank you from the bottom of my heart for listening. It means a lot.

You recently changed your stage name from “Arthure” to “Nathan Arthur”, could you discuss the reasoning behind this decision?

Nathan: I felt stuck in a rut for a long time. Idea-wise, I felt much more freely creative when I was young. My first full length album “Frail” was by far the most horrible sounding thing I’ve ever created, but I still take a listen once in a while and feel a sense of pride for such unadulterated, wild music. I feel the same with Dichotomy.. but when I began to try to develop my own “style” with my EP “A New Journey” and with singles like “Thrice,” I really feel like I traded interest and fantasy for maturity. Rebranding as “Nathan Arthur” is a fresh (albeit slow) start for me. I don’t want to conform to any specific type of music. I want to express myself musically. And yeah, it will look like metal most of the time. But I plan to release other non-metal genres. The switch to Nathan Arthur symbolizes musical freedom.

How would you describe your overall sound and how has it progressed since your debut album “CAPSUL”?

Nathan: I would call project Arthure a hearty, healthy mixture of thrash, prog, and death metal, mixed with djent and a touch of classical and jazz. My mindset was to write heavy, crazy music, and the mashing of genres has always been fun to me. “Capsul” was more of a way for me to get the hang of mixing and mastering. Frail was my first attempt at palatable music, most likely taking form Extol’s Synergy album and an insane concept album by the band “Twisted into Form.” Dichotomy was my attempt to emulate the dark, epic, brooding sound of “Undeceived,” and most of my Meshuggah inspiration happened on this album. “A New Journey” was my rehashing of prog metal, and remains my personal favorite album. I mixed it really well and I love the vibe. I also had some incredible guest artists collaborate with me on that one. “Thrice” was my attempt to turn the sound of “A New Journey” into something a little heavier.. and then Arthure ended. I had tens of musical ideas that fell flat. I actually have five or six “Arthure” songs that are pretty much finished, and album artwork to boot, but I just don’t like them enough to publish them. Maybe I’ll make a rejected songs demo album. Not sure if people would enjoy that or not.

How is your writing and recording process?

Nathan: Step 1: Play guitar for months. Don’t come up with anything and get super discouraged. Step 2: Program a drum beat and write some sludge riff over it. Pretend it’s good enough to make it on a record. Step 3: Find inspiration one morning while I sleep and write and arrange the whole song in two or three hours. Step 4: Listen to the trashy recording a few hundred times to internalize the guitar parts. Step 5: Re-record guitar. Step 6: Don’t re-record bass because I was always too lazy. Step 7: Write lyrics as I track vocals for the song. Step 8: Mix. Step 9: First mix sucked, mix again. Step 10: Second mix sucked more, mix again. Step 12: Realize it will never be as good as I want it, so master it and chuck it on Spotify.

As an artist, I feel a sense of pride that my music comes with difficulty. It brings meaning to the albums and singles I’ve worked on in the past. If musical ideas came easily to me, I feel like I wouldn’t relish the hard work I put in to each album.

What’s the concept behind your album “Dichotomy” and why did you pick that name?

Nathan: The themes in my music are always focused on highlighting the darkness in humanity and the glory of God. Google’s running definition of a dichotomy is this: a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different. So the word “dichotomy” is kind of like my calling card. It’s what I liked to write about, especially in 2018.

Who are some of your favorite bands in the Christian metal scene?

Nathan: Funnily enough, I don’t listen to a whole lot of Christian metal. Most of the metal I listen to is either atheist or agnostic. I do draw the line with anti-christian bands, bands that promote or support violence, and satanic bands. That being said, Extol (obviously), Fleshkiller, Mantric, Benea Reach, Chorder, Love and Death, Becoming the Archetype, and Twisted into Form were big ones for me. I also listen to Demon Hunter and Devil Wears Prada when I’m feeling metalcorey. I’m always open to new suggestions.

How did you come to faith in Jesus Christ, and how do you remain centered on Christ as a musician?

Nathan: One night, I was sat at a campfire, totally fixated on my bag of Reeses’ Pieces, and completely not paying attention to the words my AWANA group leader was saying. I did notice that some kids were standing up out of the corner of my eye, so naturally, I stood as well, because I wanted to look like I was paying attention. Next thing I knew, I was in a small round of students accepting Jesus into our hearts for the first time. I remember very vividly standing there, thinking “I’ve already accepted Christ as my Savior.. guess I should have paid more attention.” That is one of my first memories. Unfortunately, I was a bit too young to remember the time I accepted Jesus for the first time. But over the years, through trial by fire and deceit, and life’s woes and hardships, I can affirm that I have come to Jesus in surrender to my best ability.

Often times, I find myself more broken than not: less centered than I would hope. Music is often the tool that I use to center myself to Christ. Whether it be playing guitar, doing AVL for church production in my area, or producing my own music. I find music a large part of my reconciliation and perpetual repentance to Christ.

In your own words, what is the Gospel?

Nathan: We’re all eff’ed up. Like really, really messed up. Our actions too often directly oppose God’s desire. We’ve all had thoughts straight from the pits of hell: things that scare us, and drive us into deep, dark caverns. Fortunately enough, there is a way out. Jesus’ death on the cross allows us to continually renew our minds and our souls, and to find refuge from the darkness trapped in our minds. Most importantly, Jesus offers His hand to us, and upon taking it, we are entered into a New Order; a Kingdom that forever dispels darkness. And on the throne sits The King. A loving King who cherishes every subject like His own inheritance.

Have you been reading or listening to anything lately that has spurred growth in your life?

Nathan: Recently, I have not found anything. Any suggestions are much appreciated.

Favorite book of the Bible and why?

Nathan: Ecclesiastes. Life is meaningless apart from the Father. It’s a great reminder that everything is pointless unless done with a Kingdom focus. It’s very freeing to realize that nothing I do will never amount to anything. Relieves the pressure of needing to be some big shot. I can just focus on being me and working for the Kingdom.

What’s the status of the band? You haven’t released anything in a while.

Nathan: I wish I was releasing music all the time. Unfortunately, it takes a lot longer to write something that inspires me. A few life changes also got in the way: I got married, I spent a lot of time moving into our new place, and my entire recording studio changed. Also covid. That being said, I currently have a song or two that will make it on to the Nathan Arthur pages very soon.

Where can your music be found and how can fans support you?

Nathan: My music is found on any streaming platform. I suggest Spotify. I expect no money for my works. The best way to support is by spreading the word. I hope that if you, the listener, like my music, there are others out there who might too. My Facebook page is NathanArthurOfficial (opens new window), and my Instagram page is NathanArthurMusic (opens new window).

I am also working on an official Nathan Arthur Production website, found at NathanArthurProduction (opens new window). I will have a bunch of free goodies, tips, and tricks for music producers, musicians, and music fans alike. Feel free to stop by if you’re interested.

Thanks for taking the time to do this. Anything else you’d like to share?

Nathan: Thanks for having me. And thanks to everyone who gives my music a shot. It truly means a lot to me.