Vail music: Nathaniel Rateliff of The Wheel answers 7
VAIL, Colorado -First place isn’t always best. At least not if you’re Nathaniel Rateliff, who brings his band to Vail, Colorado Friday. Rateliff, the main man behind indie band The Wheel, was satisfied with second best last week when the Denver Post ranked The Wheel as the No. 2 top “underground band” in Colorado. “I was kind of glad we weren’t first actually because it seems like most bands that get first in that have broken up in the past,” Rateliff said during a phone interview this week. “Last year we were 16th or 17th or something, and in years before I don’t think we really even made the list. It’s nice to have a little bit more attention to what we’re doing.”Rateliff returns to the Sandbar in West Vail tonight to open for the band Akron/Family. He took the time to talk about some of the record labels that have recently been courting the band and why money isn’t everything. VD: You just signed with High Road Touring, the same agency that books bands like Wilco, Old 97s, Feist and others. Tell me what that feels like?NR: I’m pretty excited about that. A lot of people who are working with great labels can’t find great agents and we’re lucky enough to have everyone at High Road excited to work with us and help further what we’re trying to do as musicians. Vail Daily: You’re playing with Frank Black at the Walnut Room in Denver later this week. Are you looking forward to that show or are you nervous?Nathaniel Rateliff: I’m not really nervous. It’s exciting as well. He’s had a pretty good run of things and influenced a lot of great people. I like his stuff and it’s nice to feel like we’re at a point to play with people who are pretty well known and then when we meet them, they treat us like their peers. VD: I’ve talked to other musicians who say the old sign-with-a-record-label, release-a-record ways are disappearing. Do you think that’s true? Have you considered alternative ways of making it big?NR: What we’re really trying to do is make a reasonable living at this so I don’t know about making it big. I don’t ever expect to be a multi-plantinum selling artist. But we’re trying to have a real honest approach at what we’re doing, and reach a lot of people that way, and if we do become multi-plantinum selling artists, that would be a real blessing. I do think that some of the older ways of people getting signed for hundreds of thousands of dollars, that’s definitely over with. There’s definitely new avenues to get your music out there, and we’re trying to do some of that too, but we’re not opposed to working with anyone who might help us along the way. VD: I heard that record labels have been courting you the past six months and you’ve had multiple offers. Is that true? Are you close to signing with a big label?NR: We have talked to a few different labels, and even turned down a really nice offer from a label that didn’t make sense, even though it would have made sense financially. There are some other interests and we’re just taking our time. We want to make sure what we’re doing is exactly what we want to be doing musically and artistically, it’s not a matter of money.VD: It’s refreshing to hear that it’s not about the money.NR: We’ve been really smart and retained a reasonable lifestyle where we don’t have very many bills… I live a really modest life and so does Joseph, (Pope III, the band’s electric guitar player) and we try to keep our priorities in the right places so we don’t get caught up with a lot of money that has to come from somwhere. VD: Are there any upcoming tours you can talk about?NR: There are upcoming tours, but I can’t talk about them right now because they haven’t been released. But we’re doing two shows upcoming shows with Delta Spirit, in Aspen at the Belly Up on Aug. 27 and Aug. 28 at the Boulder Theater. They’re really great musicians and they’re friends of ours so we’re excited to have some dates with them. VD: You just did two sold-out shows with Bon Iver in Boulder and Denver. Does it feel like you’re turning a big corner and about to make it big?NR: With those shows, and more coming up, and also working with High Road, things are going to take a big step up I think. High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or email@example.com.