Nathan Carter is coming to the UK this month, on his first ever major tour over here, having enjoyed huge success in Ireland where he is bringing country music to new followers.
The fresh faced singer has droves of teenage fans flocking to follow his tours in Ireland, and a new record deal with Decca sees the 24-year-old setting his sights on crossing over into the UK market.
“The last couple of years have been fantastic. My last two albums went to number 1 in the mainstream Irish charts, which is something I never thought would happen,” he says.
“I just thought that that was out of reach. I couldn’t imagine at this time that an album with country and folk songs could be next to the likes of pop stuff like One Direction, Ellie Goulding and Ed Sheeran.
“The same week we were in, Michael Buble was in the top 10, and Pharrell Williams’ Happy had just come out so it was a dream come true.
“Now I have a record deal with Decca, there’s a new album coming out in the UK on May 4, and the dream eventually would be to hopefully get an album into the top 10 in the UK.
“It’s my first major tour of the UK, we’re doing 12 nights and playing all over the place, all the big cities. It’s also my first time playing properly in London, so hopefully it keeps going so I’ll be able to keep coming back to play bigger and bigger venues, which is what we’ve done in Ireland, so we’re just trying to replicate it over there on a bigger stage.
“It’s a really exciting time, I’ll be in England a lot over the next few months and hopefully all the hard work will pay off.”
Liverpool-born Nathan started playing the accordion at the age of four, inspired from his Co. Down grandparents’ love of music, and at ten won an All Ireland Title for Traditional Singing.
Reared by the music blaring out of his family home, Nathan’s love was always country music, but was not always something his school friends understood, especially when aged 18 he moved to Enniskillen to concentrate on his music career.
“But I’ve seen such a change in the people that come to the gigs over the past couple of years in terms of age groups. It’s such a big thing compared to when I first came out, there’s so many more young people coming to the live shows, people in their 20s and even teenagers.
“It’s a great change. I suppose now that my friends can see they see young people coming out they see it’s a bit cooler.”
And on top of being proud of the young star’s achievements, are his family proud that he seems to be leading a revival of the country scene?
“They are really proud. I grew up listening to it as a kid. Johnny Cash and the likes would always be on in the background.
“I used to get brought to shows in the Irish centres all the time to see the likes of Joe Dolan, Brendan Shine and Big Tom, and I took a lot from that. So the family are very proud, they just love the music.”
And Nathan’s getting comparisons to Joe Dolan himself, not least because of his popularity amongst his female followers who are known to throw their underwear on stage at him.
“I normally just go bright red,” he laughs. “I only really get put off when they land on my face, but I don’t mind the attention at all!”
Nathan’s looking forward to playing his homecoming gig in Liverpool on St. Patrick’s Day.
“That gig should be great fun, I was delighted when the tickets got sold out for that. I’m off the next day which is a bad sign, I’m sure there’ll be a few drinks afterwards!”
He is also relishing the opportunity to playing the capital on March 23. He plays the Union Chapel, a venue which aside from being an entertainment hub is also a working church and charity drop-in centre for the homeless.
“I can’t wait to play in Islington, it looks amazing and it’s got so much history and everything as well so I’m really looking forward to that.
“It is selling really well as well, there’s less than 300 left. We’ve already sold about 600 tickets and that’s with a lot of press and media stuff coming up too so it should be a great night.”
Nathan’s upcoming album for UK release will have a few brand new songs that he co-wrote as well as old favourites like Wagon Wheel and Caledonia.
“It’s a mixture of new and stuff that’s been successful in Ireland. That’s just because a lot of people in the UK won’t have any knowledge of my stuff at all and we just want to show them what I’m all about.”
Playing to new audiences is a task that gives Nathan huge satisfaction.
“I love playing to new crowds. I just love gigging and I’ve been very lucky that I’ve been able to do that.
“During the summer we travel around Ireland on the festival circuit and it’s great, such a busy period.
“Last year we were at the Rose of Tralee festival, and it was incredible to be playing on the street to over 12,000 people which was incredible.
“We also did the Marquee in Cork, which happens every summer, the week before Dolly Parton was there. We’re doing it again this year and Lionel Richie is on the line-up too. It’s great.
“But with a crowd that hasn’t really seen you before it’s a bit different. I suppose it’s the same as coming over to England soon as it won’t be to the same audience that have maybe seen me a couple of times in Ireland.
“I love introducing people to my music and meeting new people. Sometimes, not that you get complacent in front of your loyal fans, but when you meet new people it’s like you have to almost sell it more and I look forward to that challenge.”
One of Nathan’s first ever gigs came after winning an Irish World award as a teenager back in 2008 for best newcomer. His parents and grandparents came down for the event which kickstarted a huge opportunity for the emerging star.
“I was 18 when I came down to the Irish World Awards at the Galtymore. I was so lucky because off the back of that, I got invited back to support Big Tom to close the Galty, and that is something I’ll remember all my life.
“I am just so grateful for that gig, as it allowed me to be a part of history.
“I was just this kid stood up on stage with a keyboard in front of two or three thousand people and it’s through the awards that I got to do that. It was a really good night and I’m delighted I got to be a very small part of it.”
In terms of future ambitions, what would be the ultimate dream for Nathan? With country star Garth Brooks selling out five Croke Park shows last year, albeit they were never played, and Ed Sheeran playing there twice this summer, would that be the ultimate goal for Nathan, a mix of country and youth himself?
“Oh definitely. That would be a massive dream to have my own show at Croke Park! I’ve actually bought tickets to Ed Sheeran so I’m looking forward to that gig. It should be good fun.”
Nathan himself was due to support Brooks for half of the Dublin tour before his gigs were cancelled last year.
Known as the fresh faced pin-up bringing country to a new audience, Nathan is more than capable of writing music, and is an accomplished musician on the accordion, piano and guitar.
“It’s great to see that country is appealing to all ages and different types of people and I really do love being ‘the singer’. But to be honest, the reality is that playing traditional music is my first love, I was going over to Fleadh Ceoil for years.
“I often wonder if, God forbid, something were to ever happen to my voice and I wasn’t able to sing, I’d still be able to play in a band whether it be piano, accordion or guitar or whatever. I never look for recognition, you just keep your head down and hope for the best!”
And does he ever get embarrassed when family party favourite Wagon Wheel comes on and he has to get up and dance with everyone else?
“To be honest, I don’t get to many weddings because I’m gigging. I get invited but I never get to go! But Wagon Wheel has turned out to be a really good tune for weddings and christenings to get every one of all ages!”
“I’ve been welcomed so unbelievably well here, I suppose because there’s so many Irish people in Liverpool as well. And whenever you mention Liverpool over here the first question you get asked is what football team you support! They’re football mad. I’ve been accepted unbelievably well and I couldn’t have wished for anything more.
“I’m only ever here about three nights a week, the rest of the time I’m be on tour, or the studio or something. The people are lovely and it’s very picturesque, I’ve a boat that I get to take out on the lake every now and then.
“I don’t get to Liverpool much but my family come over here a lot and come to gigs when they’re free. They’re always at the airport for getting the plane over!”
- Nathan Carter is on his UK tour now. Visit www.nathancartermusic.com/dates for more info.