If you get knocked down, you must get back up. And if you get knocked down again, you HAVE to get back up. Perseverance is paramount to achieving your goals. Failures make you an expert, and experts succeed.
As a part of our series about Nashville’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Nate Bass with Country trio Essex County.
Soaring melodies, irreverent guitars and searing family harmony form the heartbeat of British brother country trio Essex County. Comprised of Nate, Mark and Kieran Bass, the band launched in March of 2020 with their hard-driving, reflective mid-tempo “So Good.” Country fans and streaming services quickly embraced the group, and its debut song crossed 1 million streams eight weeks later. Essex County’s video for the song was in the Top 12 on CMT for 12 weeks. The trio’s debut EP, also called “So Good,” was released in June and became the first to also launch as a video EP on CMT with four new videos in simultaneous rotation. The video for the group’s second single “Love at First” debuted on MTV, and members’ inventive cover of “Last Christmas” accumulated more than 800,000 streams in December. Essex County capped 2020 — nine months after the trio launched — with 3.5 million streams. The brothers are currently songwriting and song-searching for new music in 2021, effectively setting the stage for country music’s first British invasion.
Essex County’s new song “For You,” and a video compiled from a live performance and touching personal footage submitted by their family and fans, will be released Feb. 14.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/ec57855e5f803e281c79f28a50a1d845
Thank you so much for joining us in this series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?
Well, it all started with our middle brother Mark winning Guitarist of the Year at Wembley Stadium when he was 11 years old. It sounds far-fetched, but it really is the truth.
After six weeks of playing a cheap Fender Strat copy, Mark found himself copying such guitar legends as Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, Allan Holdsworth, etc., as these were just some of the artists we loved and were listening to.
When Mark enrolled in the Guitarist of the Year competition, he met four guitar legends as judges in front of him on the stage — Brian May, Steve Vai, Eric Clapton and Jan Cryka.
He performed a song that he composed himself named “Stephen’s Wood,” dedicated to our dad’s brother, who passed away many years before.
To our entire family’s surprise, he won!
This marked the very beginning of our career. Soon after, we found ourselves performing at guitar seminars around the UK. I was playing drums, and by this time, Kieran had picked up the bass.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
In 2015, we found ourselves working on the Disney Cruise Line in Florida, where we met two people who invited us to stay with them in Nashville. We played for John McBride and Dan Huff, which was the beginning of our Music City journey.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
We made a spontaneous trip to Nashville merch company Richards and Southern to speak about printing some caps and T-shirts to sell at shows. We always carry guitars with us wherever we go. We decided to play a setfor Terry Cologne and his staff at the company. Halfway through our set, Terry said, “Have you got a manager?” I said, “No, we haven’t.” Terry said, “Give me one second, I’ll be back.”
He went into his office and made a call to his friend Rob Beckham, who at the time was co-head at WME. He came back into the room and said to expect a call from Rob.
I immediately knew who Rob was and how important he could be to our career.
The next day, we played one song for Rob in his office, and the rest is history.
Can you share with us an interesting story about living in Nashville?
We witnessed the 2020 tornado rip through our entire section of East Nashville, where we are living. It was horrendous. The homes and businesses that were destroyed were very sad.
Can you share with us a few of the best parts of living in Nashville? We’d love to hear some specific examples or stories about that.
Because we’re Brits, we walk everywhere. We love walking. People think we’re mad.
But we will walk the entire city mostly every day, and soak in the city. You can really take it in when you walk as you have time to see things you wouldn’t see if you just drove past at speed. It’s full of history like London is, but it’s from a musical background.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I don’t know that it’s funny, but all you can do is laugh at this point. We just found out that a manager we had several years ago borrowed a large amount of studio equipment in our name without telling us and didn’t return it. We just reached out to borrow more, and the company asked about the entire stage set up we borrowed years ago, and we have no idea what they’re talking about. Luckily, the company believed us and let us borrow from them again.
We don’t work with that manager anymore. And, we definitely learned to pay closer attention to what people are doing in our name.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
It takes an army to win a war. There’s never just one person who can achieve success for you in whatever you do. Just the opportunity to share this story with you and your outlet is just a step towards achieving success.
Rob Beckham is our biggest believer. He has taken a chance on trying to make three British guys a success in America in the country genre. He has put an entire team around us full of wonderful and very talented people we are truly grateful for.
But it all goes back to wonderful friends and believers who have let us sleep on the couch and had a spare room or gave us a lift to a show or a supermarket.
Without family, there’s no possible way this could have ever happened.
Without their push, it’s impossible.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
We are writing a lot at the moment, finding new songs and just building a catalog of great new songs for recording this year. Due to the pandemic, all there is to do is write new material and get in the studio.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
1. Whatever you choose, drums/guitars/vocals, etc., learn your skill, practice hard and learn from others. You can pick out bad habits and iron those out for yourself.
2. Getting inspired by your favorite artists is important to your growth as an artist yourself. You have to be excited about what you do. Would you want to watch you? What makes you want to listen to you? If you love what you do, others will follow and love you, too.
3. Find a great lawyer, someone who can guide you through the bushes of the industry. The creative should never be connected to the business side. It then becomes work and just kills the creative spark. A great attorney will navigate you through these waters of opportunities that come your way.
4. Find believers, people who absolutely 100% believe in what you are as an artist and as a person. Without these believers, you don’t have much chance.
5. If you get knocked down, you must get back up. And if you get knocked down again, you HAVE to get back up. Perseverance is paramount to achieving your goals. Failures make you an expert, and experts succeed.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Be kind and humble.
First and foremost, we are all people who just want to connect. We are all hustling in this world, and no one likes desperation. For me, it doesn’t matter if someone is a janitor at a label or the CEO. I love to make friends and have common ground. If you can hang with your boss and laugh hard, you won’t burn out together.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
There are so many things, but if I could trigger a movement, it would be for everyone to stop using or buying food in plastic.
I remember when I was a little boy, and we had electric milk floats that delivered glass milk bottles that you used and then recycled to be refilled and then consumed the milk again.
We were already there!
I just would love to almost see that come back but see that rolled out for other products, too.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up again. This is our lifelong dream. You can’t chase your dreams in the music industry and NOT get knocked down. But we’re still here, still growing, and even in a pandemic, 2020 was our best professional year yet.
Is there a person in the world or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Yes, our manager Rob Beckham. It would mean we were back on American soil. We could sit at Cracker Barrel and talk about how to take over America with our music 🙂
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