He is a divorcee, a father, a substitute teacher, a super good bud to all, and the songwriter behind one of Portland’s most esteemed bands And And And. The notorious five piece play a basement bred, orchestral, power-pop charged rock that is moving to listen to and always one of the most fun shows to watch live.
It is clear that Nathan (songwriter/guitarist/vocalist) has been through the ringer. And And And’s songs tell his story of devastation. Of going through both a divorce and custody battle, moving around to live near his daughter, and commuting to work and to rehearse and play shows with his band. But despite that period of bleakness that Nathan navigated, a crushingly beautiful debut full length album emerged. Aptly titled The Failure in an externalized jab of self deprecating humor, the album was released on Party Damage Records.
In a series of low-budget, cell-phone-filmed dirtball tomfoolery, And And And just premiered a second music video for The Failure on Vice. The video is chock full of Willamette River meat induced bouts of projectile neon vomiting, backyard surgery, ghostbusting and space-time travel.
To get inside the musical mind of the man behind the band, I met up with Nathan at his favorite record store in Portland, Crossroads Music, to dig up some of his favorite records and discuss their personal significance to him. For those not familiar with the shop, Crossroads is one of the city’s most unique record stores with a massive assortment of eclectic collections from over thirty five dealers, offering selections from bargain bin must-haves to in-your-dream rarities.
But without further adieu…
Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother (1970) and The Wall (1979)
“These are my two favorite Pink Floyd albums. I listened to The Wall obsessively as a 15 year old kid. I remember going on a trip to Yellowstone that took like three weeks driving around in a car, and all I did was listen to this album. And I got real into it, I’m still into it. I love it forever, always. Atom Heart Mother is one of my favorite earlier albums of Pink Floyd. It’s got this one song that’s the whole entire side (the self-titled track “Atom Heart Moon” at 23:44 playtime), and it’s just an instrumental thing and it has this awesome brass band symphony stuff that’s really cool. You don’t hear that kind of stuff that often, it’s very, very, very good.”
Rush – Hemispheres (1978)
“Ryan (Wiggans – guitar player of And And And and bff band Surfs Drugs) and I were very very big Rush fans in late middle and all through high school. Ryan used to learn all the guitar parts. Hemispheres is probably Ryan and my favorite Rush album. It’s got another one of those songs that takes up the entire side of the record, “Cygnus X-1, Book 2: Hemispheres,” it’s eighteen minutes and seven seconds long and it’s really cool. I was very taken by these long prog rock songs as a kid and I still like them.”
The Rolling Stones – Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967)
“Their Satanic Majesties Request is my favorite Rolling Stones album. If you like psychedelic music, this is the bible for it in my opinion. I don’t really like that much psychedelic but this one specifically is very very cool. The songs are really abstract and great and there are some heavy hooks in there too. And you gotta thet the record with a holographic cover. Mick Jagger is wearing a really cool wizard hat on the front, and there is a maze on the inside.”
Tool – Undertow (1993)
“Stop laughing (giggles)! I learned how to play this entire album on guitar when I was 16, and I saw them live at the Hult Center (in Eugene) in like 2002 maybe. I used to play along to this whole album in my room… I’m pretty sure my dad was just ready to kill me (chuckles), I did not stop.”
Bim* – Kid Full of Dreams (1975), and Anything You Want (1982)
“These are two albums by my best… one of my best friends Bim (Ditson – drummer of And And And)… I don’t want to hurt anybody else’s feelings by calling him my best friend. He approaches it often and sometimes he becomes my best friend… most of the time he is. But anyway, he’s got these two solo albums that have kind of been lost by time, Kid full of Dreams and Anything You Want, and they’re just real good. That’s all I can say about it, you gotta check it out. He’s a great songwriter, It’s all acoustic music, super cute stuff.”
The Clash – Sandinista
“By far my favorite Clash record. It’s got 36 songs. An extremely diverse collection of songs. Some of the most like anthemic punk rock, and straight up reggae, really just pushing the boundaries quite a bit. Also, this album was a gift to me from a friend from Eugene named Ryan who introduced me to a lot of my favorite music, and actually, we drove up here and he showed me this record store, Crossroads Music. I haven’t talked to him in years and that makes me a dick and I miss him, it’s stupid. I think about him all the time when I look at my records, I gotta hit him up.”
More photos from our day at Crossroads Music with Nathan Baumgartner.
*Editor’s note: Truth be told, Roy Forbes is actually the man behind the music of Bim, rather than Portland’s beloved Bim Ditson of And And And which whom Nathan refers to.