Last month, California’s Cold War Kids returned to the scene with their amazing new album, Loyalty To Loyalty— the follow-up to their 2006 critically acclaimed debut, Robbers & Cowards. Recently, The Aquarian had the opportunity to speak with lead singer and pianist, Nathan Willett.
Hi Nathan. Can you tell me a little bit about how the band formed?
Yeah, we’ve known each other for years and were just all fans of music—through different schools and different friends, we just got together. Beyond that, we really didn’t have a lot of intention of touring, or doing things on a major scale.
So it sounds as if you guys all gravitated together very naturally.
Reflecting a bit on your influences, if the four of you sat down in a room and started talking about music, what would some of the key threads be?
Um, probably Tom Waits and The Velvet Underground—they would be some of the big ones, and people like Nina Simone. But we’re just all over the place in terms of style.
Were you personally very engrossed with music from an early age?
Yeah, you know, my mom was in a lot of different folk groups, and we had a piano in our house. Growing up in southern California, I had a lot of friends that were in punk and hardcore bands—just stuff that I really wasn’t interested in—so I didn’t really figure I had much of a place for playing, or meeting like-minded musicians around where I was. I didn’t actually end up playing with people all that much until I met these guys. I had recorded this tape of Elvis Costello covers that I done, and some of the guys heard it and wanted to do something.
And how did the name Cold War Kids come about? I always thought that was such a classic name.
It came from our bass player, Matt Maust. There was this park in Europe, near Budapest, that had fallen statues of Communist, cold war-era leaders, that kids would literally play on, and we liked that whole aesthetic.