Interview: Nate Garrett (Spirit Adrift, Gatecreeper) on 'Divided by Darkness'

New heights have been reached.

Photograph by Mark Valentino

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past year, then I'm sure you're familiar with the work of Nate Garrett, who has obliterated eardrums and leveled stages with both Gatecreeper and Spirit Adrift. The latter, however, does so in a different manner.


Spirit Adrift commands with soaring vocals, technicality, melody, and powerful lyricism, exemplifying some quality doom metal. Their sophomore outing Spectral Savior blew me away upon first listen and I'd say it was one of the best records released that year. Seriously, this record is profound and glorious in every aspect of the word.


We had an opportunity to chat with the always busy Nate Garrett back in November regarding their now announced album Divided by Darkness:

‘Eyes Were Not Alive’ was released as part of Decibel’s Flexi-Disc series and it is fucking incredible. There’s definitely some classic Ozzy vibes on this one. Is this track a sign of the direction Spirit Adrift is taking for the next album?


Nate: Thanks! The biggest indicator of what to expect on the next album is the improvement in my singing. I’ve become exponentially more comfortable with and aware of my voice. I’ve been working my ass off every day with vocal warm-ups and that sort of thing. At some point there was a noticeable physical change, and now I can sound exactly how I want to within a given moment. I’m not sure the song itself is indicative of the next album, though maybe it is a little. The next album is heavier for sure, more of just a straight up metal album.


I wrote Eyes specifically for the Decibel Flexi Series, probably 6 months before we even got the offer. If we never got the offer, that song probably would have never been recorded. I’m a firm believer in visualization.


It’s been a year since ‘Curse of Conception.’ How’s the creative process coming along for the next one?


Nate: The next one is already demoed and ready to go. It’s my favorite stuff I’ve ever written. In many ways, it’s objectively better than anything else I’ve written. I can’t wait to get in the studio.


Will the next record be as emotionally driven as ‘Curse of Conception?’


Nate: Great question. The answer is yes. But the emotion is different. I’ve been telling people, 'The last album was sad, this album is angry.' There’s still plenty of melody and dynamics, but for the most part it’s pissed off and violent. Catharsis is the common thread.


‘Curse of Conception’ was definitely a standout record for me in 2017, a huge leap from the stellar ‘Chained to Oblivion’ in my opinion. Musically, where do you go from here?


Nate: Thank you! Believe me when I say the leap between Curse of Conception and the next album is an even greater leap.


‘Starless Age’ is one, if not, my favorite track on ‘Curse of Conception’ for its emotional opening minutes with soaring guitars, switching pace, and wondrous solo. It reminds me a lot of ‘Children of the Damned’ by Iron Maiden, which starts off slow and ends on a faster pace with a similar tapping solo. Was traditional heavy metal a big inspiration in writing the record?


Nate: Absolutely. I don’t really draw inspiration from newer bands at all anymore. Pallbearer was and always will be a huge inspiration to me, and being around them was a catalyst to get Spirit Adrift going, but musically we are worlds apart at this point. Either way I always feel obligated to mention them because they’re very special to me. But as far as bands that directly influence my songwriting, it’s all older bands. Bands and songs that have stood the test of time. That’s the key. I want to make something that lasts, despite the current climate of instant gratification and vapidity. I pretty much only listen to old music at this point, so I can study it and pinpoint what makes it timeless.


You work with 20 Buck Spin, who have a stacked lineup of artists, with the likes of Khemmis, Tomb Mold, Extremity, and Scorched to name a few. Does this inspire you in any way?


Nate: 20 Buck Spin is one of my favorite labels ever, and it’s such a joy to work with someone who is so passionate about music. I talk to Dave at 20 Buck pretty much every day or every other day. I love everything he’s about. He believes in me and I believe in him, so that’s inspiring, yes.


Also, shoutout specifically to Deadbird. It’s a full circle moment in my life and a great source of pride to be labelmates with a band that was so influential and important to many aspects of my life.


You played Psycho Las Vegas over the Summer. What does it feel like to have Spirit Adrift be a part of such an incredible lineup and iconic festival?

Nate: It was great. Our set time couldn’t come fast enough. I was pacing the floor in my room at the Hard Rock, fucking pumped. I felt like I was about to get in a fight that I knew I was going to win. Lots of adrenaline. We all went up to our band cabana, watched EYEHATEGOD, got even more pumped, and played our guts out. The crowd was familiar with the songs and super appreciative, and that always feels good.


You’ve also played Migration Fest and Decibel’s Metal & Beer Fest in Philadelphia, which had Carcass, Mayhem, At the Gates, and Pallbearer. Are there any bands you’d like to play or tour with in the future?


Nate: I want to tour with Metallica, Ozzy, or Judas Priest. Some might say that’s unrealistic, and to that I say fuck you. We’d also love to tour with Ghost, Uncle Acid, Deafheaven, Power Trip, High on Fire, and Yob.


What are Nate Garrett’s favorite bands or songs at the moment?


Nate: I’ve been on a huge Gram Parsons kick on this tour. I’ve been listening to the first Flying Burrito Brothers album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo by The Byrds, and Gram’s solo album Grievous Angel. The dude was an actual wild person and a monster musician. I listen to Ralph Stanley every night.


As far as current stuff, my favorite albums of the year are the new Hooded Menace, High on Fire, Deadbird, Varathron, Mournful Congregation, Tomb Mold, Windhand, Turnstile, and Outer Heaven albums.


Any updates on new material? Or interesting projects in the works for the coming months?


Nate: The new Spirit Adrift album will be out next year. Gatecreeper is doing a new album next year too. We’re on this tour with Genocide Pact right now and I’ve been talking to their drummer Connor about doing a band that sounds like Trouble but only the double kicker parts. Connor is a beast. We’re both super busy but hopefully we can make it happen eventually.

The band recently announced their latest effort Divided by Darkness, set to arrive on May 10th, 2019 via 20 Buck Spin Records. The question is, how do you top Spectral Savior? Well, tune into the latest single Hear Her below and find out how.


Cover art by Joe Petagno

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