Nathan Carter: “Who’s Drake?”

"Who’s Drake" asks Nathan Carter
“Who’s Drake” asks Nathan Carter

Nathan Carter hasn’t the same taste in music as most other twenty somethings, he tells Fiona O’Brien

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Liverpool-born Nathan Carter is celebrating his fourth No.1 album in Ireland, beating competition from the likes of Beyonce and Drake.

But although his peers and friends may be huge fans of the pair, the singer songwriter was slightly in the dark when comparing himself to his chart rivals. “I was really lucky to get the number one actually, because the week that my album came out, Beyonce and Drake had only released theirs as downloads,” he says.

"Who’s Drake" asks Nathan Carter
“Who’s Drake” asks Nathan Carter: Of course I know who Beyonce is!

“When their hard copies came out then their sales went up and they just went ahead of me. “All my friends were laughing at me though because I had no idea who Drake was!”

Drake, by the way, is a Canadian rap artist who has sold millions of records worldwide, and Nathan Carter and his friends could be considered to be in his target audience.

“Of course I know who Beyonce is though,” he says, but Nathan is not your typical 25- year-old lad, having been reared on a diet of country music since taking up the accordion at the age of four. And it is his refreshing modern take on country, which has endeared him to fans of all ages both here and in Ireland. As a result he is credited with being a dominant force in the country music revival on both sides of the Irish Sea.

“It is quite a daunting prospect, stepping out onto that stage which is so well known around the world”

This week Nathan has been preparing for one of the biggest shows of his life, his debut at the London Palladium this Sunday. His 26th birthday is the day before, but it will be spent rehearsing and practising, not celebrating. He describes his Palladium gig as ‘daunting’.

"Who’s Drake" asks Nathan Carter
London Palladium

“Last year we were so excited to announce that I would be playing the Shepherds Bush Empire, but as it came nearer to the time it became clear that they wouldn’t have finished the roof in time.

“It was disappointing as I didn’t want to let my fans down, and I knew that there were a load of people travelling over from Ireland especially for it.

“So we made a few calls and found out that the Palladium was free and they were willing to let us move it there for the same night.

“But it is quite a daunting prospect, stepping out onto that stage which is so well-known around the world.”

It is a far cry from the pubs and clubs scene that Nathan started out gigging as a teenager, but he has had his share of notable concerts too in recent years. One of Nathan’s first big gigs was the Irish World Awards, at the Galtymore where he warmed up for Big Tom. He says it was one of the biggest things to have happened to him, and a great experience to have played that legendary Cricklewood venue.

"Who’s Drake" asks Nathan Carter

“I used to travel to London quite a lot, in fact when Seamus Moore had the Castle pub in Child’s Hill I had two Saint Stephen’s Day gigs there in a row. Me and mum travelled down.”

What has been his most daunting task since making the ‘big-time’? “Well I play the Marquee in Cork for their festival season in the summer every year.

“It holds 5,000 people. Last year I was on in between the likes of Lionel Richie and Christy Moore. That took some beating.” Just a few weeks ago, Nathan entertained 8,000 fans!

“We have an annual event at the INEC in Killarney, where I play Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Friday night is more of a traditional show, the Saturday night then tends to get the younger crowd in on their night-out vibe and then the Sunday is really special, it’s like a family day.

“All kids get in for free and then its a nominal charge, like a tenner or so for the adults. It’s really important to me, those family days, because I remember as a young lad being brought to the Liverpool Irish Centre and listening to the likes of Philomena Begley and other country acts like that, and it really shaped my musical choice.

"Who’s Drake" asks Nathan Carter
Philomena Begley

“So I’m glad that we can offer that day to families who would like to do the same.”

And on the Sunday, Nathan was joined on stage by his granddad. “It was so special actually, we sang an Elvis song that he introduced to me when I was a kid.

“He’s in his eighties now, but he still thinks he’s a teenager.”

Nathan’s family have long accompanied him on tours. “My nan, who is from Co. Down, still comes to all the shows and sells the merchandise at the back of the halls. When we are on the tour bus she comes with us and sleeps upstairs.”

Does that mean they make Nathan eats well and is tucked up in bed early? “It’s very hard to stay healthy when you are touring, it’s very often Chinese takeaways and things like that but my nan is well up for a party, she’s the one getting the gin and tonics out after a late night!”

“If I hear Wagon Wheel one more time I’m going to break that stereo”

Last week, Nathan hit the headlines when his famous song Wagon Wheel was seen to be the cause of an attack in Coleraine. ‘Man snapped over Wagon Wheel’ was all over the news after 53-year-old Stephen John Leighton appeared in court accused of attacking his neighbour because he played Nathan’s song so often.

"Who’s Drake" asks Nathan Carter

He was quoted as saying “If I hear Wagon Wheel one more time I’m going to break that stereo”, and pleaded he had been subjected to ‘some sort of psychological torture’ as the court imposed a prison sentence and ordered compensation for breaking his neighbours’ windows. Social-media savvy Nathan, who does all of his own online marketing, took the story with a pinch of salt.

“You have to laugh at it really don’t you. I mean I’m sure anyone would get fed up with hearing any song on repeat over and over again, and you can’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

“My phone has been going crazy from newspapers and radio and television wanting to know what I think.”

Nathan, knowing the value of publicity, uploaded photos onto his Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat accounts of him in front of news stands with the story emblazoned on the front pages.

“I’ve come out and said we’ll give the victim free tickets to a show, so hopefully that will cheer him up a bit.”

A few weeks ago Nathan rec appeared on The Late Late Show in Ireland, the same week that the 1989 Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough were finally deemed to have been unlawfully killed. All of the Carter family are Liverpool fans. “On my new album, there is a track called Liverpool, and it mentions the 96 victims on it.

Click on the image to watch the video of Liverpool live on the Late Late Show:

"Who’s Drake" asks Nathan Carter

“The Late Late Show were doing a special on it, so they got in touch. That was actually also extremely daunting, I opened the show, and it was just me sitting there with a piano on my own. “Kevin Keegan was on the show too, who is obviously a huge Liverpool legend.

“He was such a nice man. I’m more of the Stevie G era, but he’s my dad’s hero and my parents were delighted to get pictures with him backstage afterwards.”

His new album, Staying Up All Night, sets out to a more contemporary, ‘radio-friendly’ work than his earlier ones.

"Who’s Drake" asks Nathan Carter

“It’s the one that I put myself under the most pressure for, as they are nearly all new songs. I wrote eight of them. Skinny Dipping, is a nice fresh summer fun song which is getting great reactions from our shows.

“I then have written Thank You, which is to give something back to the fans as I am so grateful for all their support over the years.

“There is a Dubliners cover on there, and a few more traditional ones, so I hope there’s something there for everyone. I’m really proud of it.”

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