The Sideshow Tragedy is taking a dive into a hazy and deranged hellscape with their latest album After The Fall. Nathan Singleton (vocals, guitar, bass) and Jeremy Harrell (drums, percussion, backing vocals) bring a sombre anguish to your ears through their lively rock sound. The duo’s affinity for pop-rock bubbles to the surface on this album for a juxtaposition of darkness and bouncing light. We sat down with Nathan Singleton to talk about the album, pack animals, creative processes and much more!
OSR: How did the band first get together?
Singleton: Jeremy and I have been in bands together for almost 20 years. When I started this band, he was the obvious choice. Actually, there wasn’t a choice. It just was.
OSR: When the band started, did you know what sound you wanted or has this evolved over time?
Singleton: It’s definitely evolved over the years. I’d say it’s half a conscious decision to sound a certain way and half a product of whatever we’re listening to at the moment.
OSR: Is there a theme or backstory to your latest album After the Fall?
Singleton: (laughs) Sure, it’s basically a chronicle of my marriage breaking up. The songs are all pretty much in some way related to that. I was with my former wife for almost 16 years and we’re still very close, but the year leading up to the split, during which most of the tunes were written, and the year after, during which most of the album was recorded, was a pretty heavy time.
OSR: What was your creative process for the album? Did you start with a concept that you built around or was a single track the foundation?
Singleton: The lyrics are all mine and I still wrote them mostly alone on an acoustic guitar, but I leaned more heavily on Jeremy and producer Kenny Siegal for musical input. Their contributions had a major impact on the way the record sounds. I usually have pretty particular ideas about arrangements and overdubs and everything, but the songs were left unfinished going into the studio, partially on purpose because I knew they would have interesting ideas, and partially because I was having a difficult time focusing or finishing anything. It’s a more collaborative effort. Thank god for those guys, we got back from a month in Europe and were home in Texas for 2 weeks before being in New York for the first session, and in those 2 weeks my personal life sort of caught on fire, so the entire thing was made while I was kinda losing it.
Also, from a nuts-and-bolts standpoint, I consciously tried to write more poppy, major-key stuff. In part, because I love the juxtaposition of dark lyrics with “happy” music and also because of what I was listening to while writing it. I listened to a lot of feel-good music because I was depressed: Iggy Pop’s New Values, Bowie’s Station to Station (arguably a dark record but whatever), Prince, The Stones’ Emotional Rescue, INXS.
OSR: How do you feel After the Fall compares to your previous releases?
Singleton: As I said, it’s definitely more collaborative, less my “vision” than previous records, more of a band thing. Plus, this is the third record we’ve made with Kenny and he kind of feels like a band member at this point. Ditto Matt Cullen, our engineer. It feels like we built a team over the past 7 years working with those guys.
OSR: If people could listen to only one track from the album, what would you suggest and why?
Singleton: Oh man, I don’t know, different answer every day. Today I’ll say the title track because it’s kind of a statement of purpose.
OSR: If the band were pack animals, what would you be and why?
Singleton: Wolves? Jeremy and Kenny coincidentally share the nickname “The Wolf”. Also because it’s the only pack animal I can think of. I don’t know anything about animals.
OSR: There are a few guest musicians featured on After the Fall, how did you connect with them?
Singleton: I met Marc Ribot on a day off on tour in Liege, Belgium at a jazz festival. We had some beers and talked for a bit, and when we got back to the States and geared up to start the record, I reached out to him to see if he’d like to play on it, and he was down. Jeremy and I have both been huge fans of his playing for years, and it was a huge honour to have him on this record.
Ben Senterfit played on our last record, and he’s a total monster. Everything from Clarence Clemons to Albert Ayler, he just nails it. A really nice guy too. The choir, Storey Casey and Cally, killed it. Kenny was the one who said, “we need some singers, lemme make a call”. They’re an essential part of the texture of this record.
OSR: What is the one thing you would like people to remember about your music?
Singleton: I guess if they remember it at all, that’s enough for me.
OSR: What else do you have planned for the next 12 months?
Singleton: Kind of hard to plan for the next 12 months at this point, but hopefully touring! It’s a brand new world we’re living in, isn’t it?