Home Lifestyle Entertainment ‘Getting back onstage is like my drug’

‘Getting back onstage is like my drug’

Nathan Carter told David Hennessy how good it is to be back on the road and why his current single, written in tribute to his late friend and mentor Nicky James, is raising funds for a children’s hospital very close to his heart and that of his family.

After more than a year of inactivity due to the virus, massive country star Nathan Carter is glad to be back on the road.

The Irish World chatted to Nathan last week. Currently promoting his Wings to Fly single, Nathan headlines the Craic by the Creek festival later this month and has a tour coming up later in the year.

He told us it feels good to be getting back to normality.

Nathan told The Irish World: “I’m like a new man, to be honest.

I definitely did struggle a bit the last 16 months going from doing so many gigs and being so busy to then having it all taken away and literally nothing happening.

“The live gigging is like a drug. You get addicted to it and to have it all this stop overnight was pretty weird.

“The music industry was the first to close and it’ll be the last to open again really.

“But there’s light at the end of the tunnel, we’re now doing interviews and planning gigs and I’m down to rehearse the next few weeks hopefully for gigs up ahead.”

His current single means an awful lot to Nathan. It was penned last about the passing of his friend and mentor Nicky James who was also a musician and promoter who helped Nathan launch his career.

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He has now released it as a charity single in aid of Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, a hospice that is very close to the heart of Nathan and his family.

“Nicky passed away the start of last year. He was one of my best friends, closest friends who I chatted to every day on the phone.

“I decided to write the song in memory of him.

“When I put the video up online, I got loads of people messaging to say they could relate to the song and it’s helped them: People who’ve lost friends and family as well that have heard the song and the song has helped in some way.

“So I said, ‘I think we need to do a bit more with it’.

“So I decided to release it last week as a charity single in aid of Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool and the NHS.

“We’ve had a lot of dealings with the hospital, our family. through the  years.

“My cousin was diagnosed with cancer as a kid and we used to go and visit him in there.

“My second cousin, she passed away last year, she was a nurse in Alder Hey.

“So the place, the hospice, means a lot to us as a family.

“And the NHS and the staff, they’re just unbelievable.

“And especially in the last 16 months, they’ve just gone above and beyond to look after us all.

“If we can raise any money through the power of song and the power of music, I think it’s going to go to a fantastic cause.”

Now an ambassador for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Nathan was filming a BBC interview outside the hospital last week when he got to interact with some of the staff who have gone ‘above and beyond’.

“BBC Northwest interviewed myself and me Nan and a couple of the staff and the nurses and the doctors were on a break at that time. A good few of them were from Ireland actually. They were up looking for pictures: ‘Can you send this to me Nanny in Cork? And my granny in Wexford?’

I was doing videos for them all and sang a couple of songs. It was great to see them smile, because they have such a tough job.

“They have been snowed under the last 16 months, but they’ve never done anything different to what they have done for God knows how many years.

“In my opinion, they should be paid more and they should be respected a lot more for the work that they do.”

Nathan was saddened to hear of the death of Irish World founder and MD Paddy Cowan last year.

One of the first awards Nathan has picked up in his impressive career was the Irish World award he picked up for Best Newcomer in 2007.

“When I was 17, Paddy brought me up to the Galty to get my newcomer’s award.

“The Irish World Newcomer’s Award opened a lot of doors gigs-wise and introduced me to a lot of people.

“Paddy was a good man. He was one for encouraging new talent.

“He was a man who stood beside me and we stayed in contact through the years.

“Even though I lived in Ireland, he rang every few months.

“He was just one of those guys that you meet. He was a huge help to me and a good friend.”

Nathan returned to the Irish World awards in 2017, this time at the Novotel in Hammersmith.

“My band did the backing for all the acts that night. There was Tony Christie and Foster and Allen, Dara O Briain. It was a fantastic night.

“I wish we could have more of them right now to be honest.”

Other performers have told The Irish World about the encouragement they have received from Nathan. These include Claudia Buckley and Kezia Gill.

Nathan sees it as important to lend support to those who need it just like he was supported.

“People were there for me, like Nicky. I wouldn’t be here without him.

“So if I can help anyone at all in the music industry, it’s what needs to be done.

“We all need to look after each other.

“It’s too small of a scene and a business to not extend the hand.

“So if you can help in any way, I believe you should.”

How has the last year been for Nathan? How has he kept himself busy when gigs were off the agenda? “I’ve done a good bit more writing of songs.

“Obviously I’ve written Wings to Fly and I’ve written probably about seven or eight brand new tracks. I’ve recorded most of them actually.

“And I’ve been in the recording studio a lot more than what I normally would have.

“But apart from that, I’ve had to try and find different ways to keep the mind occupied.

Nathan Carter. Photo: James Connolly

“I’ve been out exercising. Walking and learning how to play golf.

“Because I’m not one for sitting at home, the mind has to be active. I have to be doing something all the time.

“So yeah, I’ve been doing as much as I can to try and keep busy because, as I say, the onstage thing and the gigs, they are a drug. You get addicted to them.

“The fact that they are coming back now is great, we have a load of gigs planned for later this year.”

Nathan tours the UK and Ireland from September/ October and is already looking forward to playing London next February.

“The UK tour finishes off on the 26th of February in the London Palladium. For me, there’s no better venue to play in the whole of the UK.

“I think it’s probably my favourite venue. Standing backstage, you see all the people that have played it from The Beatles to Johnny Cash. It’s just mental.

“So we’re really excited now to get back, to think people are going to come out and enjoy some live music again and see a smile on their faces.”

And after being so productive in lockdown, Nathan will also have a new album out before the year’s end.

“I’m going to get an album out for the end of the year. That’s the plan.

“And it’s going to probably be 90% stuff that I’ve co-written throughout the last 18 months with different writers in Ireland and across the UK and a couple of lads in Nashville as well over zoom.

“Some brand new material is going to be out for the end of the year and hopefully onwards and upwards for everyone in the music industry.”

Nathan will be joined on the bill of Craic by the Creek by Lisa McHugh, Kezia Gill and Mike McGoldrick as well as many more.

Nathan is excited about his brand new Irish festival for the Manchester area.

“That’s our first one back in a couple of weeks’ time now, we’re not too far off.

“That’s the first time that Irish festival has been run in Manchester.

“And I know the lads well who are running it, Donal and Matt. It promises to be great. They’ve sold out all the tickets: A couple of thousand people coming for the weekend. It’s great for the Northwest to have a proper Irish festival.”

The Irish World caught up with Nathan the day after England’s European Championship victory over Denmark.

But he admits he wasn’t watching himself.

Nathan Carter roads lead London Palladium

Not a football fan, he knows what a peculiarity that makes him for a man originally from Liverpool.

“I must have been the only man in England not watching the game last night. I was out walking.

“I came back from London yesterday. We had done seven days of interviews around all the BBC stations. I did 25 BBC stations in five days.

“I got back. I said, ‘I need to go out, have a walk, clear my head’.

“I got back in and it was on the 30th minute of extra-time so I watched the end of it then. Fair play to them, they did very well.

“I must have been the only man not watching the game. There was no one on the street.

“I must be one of the only men who don’t follow football from Liverpool. I’ve never been interested in football at all.

“It’s always been music for me.”

It is almost a decade and a half since Nathan relocated to Ireland and his career really took off.

“I’ve been in Ireland now half my life. I’ve been living in Enniskillen the last eight years and I was in Donegal for three before that.

“It will be 13 years, 14 years this year. Time has completely flown by.

“I never dreamt when I was playing the pubs and  clubs around the northwest of England that I would ever play the 3 Arena twice, it just wasn’t on my radar.

“Things just kind of progressed. I was offered TV shows by RTE and I did them and collaborated with different acts from Westlife to Billy Ocean to Mel B From the Spice Girls.

“It’s been a whirlwind.

“We just built and built. We would get a bit of success, and then something else would happen and someone else would offer something and then you do that.

“Different gigs would come along. Singing for Pope Francis in Croke Park, that was amazing: Just random stuff that you never imagined you would do.

“They’re just stuff that was never on my radar, I didn’t think would happen.

“I mean, I think I was on directly after Andrea Bocelli and then Riverdance were on after me

“It was crazy stuff, a ‘pinch me moment’: Standing in front of 60,000 people in Croke Park, I just didn’t think that would ever happen.

“But I do believe that you create your own luck as well, you’ve got to work hard at it.

“I say that to anyone who asks me about getting into the music business, ‘You’ll create your own luck if you work hard enough. Things will come your way’. I believe that.”

Like many other performers in lockdown, Nathan got his fix of the ‘drug’ of performing by playing live streams for his fans but he admits these did not even come close to performing in front of an audience.

“The power of social media is amazing. I’ve been on Instagram most of the time. I did a live stream event on Facebook as well a couple of times and that was good but for me there’s nothing like the live gigs.

“No matter how many people are tuned into a little camera online, you just can’t beat the live gig.

“I kept saying that to fans, ‘I’ll do a couple of these live streams but for me, we might as well wait and it’ll be all the better for whenever we do get going again’.”

After so many false starts and there being such uncertainty for some time, Nathan admits it is still a case of crossing fingers until the gigs actually go ahead.

“I’m still really crossing my fingers. We’ve got this gig in Manchester later this month but none of us really know for sure.

“You’re kind of 90 per cent sure that it might happen but there’s still a slim chance it could be postponed like so many other gigs.

“Fingers crossed it’ll all work out for the best.”

Wings to Fly is out now with proceeds going to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

Craic by the Creek runs 23- 25 July.

Nathan tours the UK and Ireland from September/October and plays the London Palladium on 26 February 2022.  

For more information, click here.

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