“Punk is different from other genres because it’s not necessarily a genre, it’s a mindset, it’s an attitude,” the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist muses. “I’ve always loved that it was always just as about the message as it was about the musicality.”
It’s that marriage of music and message that informed Nate Parrish’s debut solo album, a group of cultural commentary tracks collected under the title I’m A Wreck. Now, he’s following it up with the next stage through Soul Surgery, digging even deeper into that ethos. He shares, “Punk has also been counter culture by nature, a rejection to the status quo, a rejection of following anything blindly. That has also always appealed to me. I hope my music can inspire the listener to question what they hear, challenge what needs to change and find hope at its source.”
Listeners got their first taste of that fresh challenge with “Religion of Relevance,” a summer of 2021 single that identifies our unexpected and often-denied cultural idols. The societal commentary continues on “Attention Junkies,” an uncomfortable look at the way our souls have been trained to operate.
However, beyond just looking outward, Soul Surgery takes an unflinching look inward as well. “God Knows” uncovers Nate’s own process of digging his way out of a spiritually abusive culture: “You’re Adding pages to a finished book / Keep Building gates around our neighborhood / You’re turning faith into a pyramid scheme / You stay on top, put grace on lock and keep the key.”
“This album also contains some of my most personal and introspective lyrics,” Nate reflects. “The funny thing about the first album is that it was never really planned out as an album. The original plan was to just release singles for a while, but it kind of morphed into an album. This time around I approached it as a complete thought, a more cohesive collection of songs centered around the idea of Soul Surgery.”
That first album, I’m A Wreck, propelled Nate Parrish to surprise underground success— setting listener expectations for the second record high. In addition to strong reviews and some chart momentum, the track “HOPE” left a particular impact on listeners through the challenges of 2020 and 2021.
But Nate has been making an impact through music since well before his solo music became a 2020 sleeper hit. His original path into work as a professional musician started with worship music, and the breakout success of Worth Dying For (now Fearless BND). Touring with Worth Dying For led to Nate’s paths crossing with Kutless, a band he immediately looked up to. Seven years later, he’d be asked to join the band as lead guitarist.
“I’m most proud of the tour we were able to do in Ukraine a few years back, getting to preach the gospel from stage to thousands of people who had never heard that message before,” Nate recalls. “That was an experience I’ll never forget.”
Although his roots in worship music are far reaching, his passion for punk reaches even further back in time. Looking back, he says, “My first musical memory is getting a Talking Heads tape when I was maybe 5. I think I connected with music because it was this perfect vehicle to carry my emotions and ideas. It seemed magical.”
That magic continued to captivate Nate through a childhood soundtracked by MTV greats. “They were singing with such passion, singing about what was wrong in the world, and yet they seemed confident that things could and would change,” he shares, remembering a legendary performance from Neil Young and Pearl Jam during the 1993 MTV Awards. “Then they smashed everything on stage. I looked at my dad and told him ‘that’s what I want to do.’”
“I’m sure he would have preferred it if I told him I wanted to become a doctor or something, but he was supportive anyway, so the rocking commenced!” the singer adds.
That early passion has continued to feed the unique, home-studio-grown approach to Nate Parrish’s solo music. Although he’ll usually call on a few friends to flesh out each track after the bones are there, the majority of each lyric, vocal and instrument is all Nate’s. He admits, “There’s something about putting yourself out there that is terrifying and freeing at the same time. That tension is where I want to live as an artist.”
And if listeners glean a little hope from his music along the way? To Nate’s mind, that’s the best possible use of the power of punk. “I hope as many people as possible can hear my songs and be challenged to pursue truth, empowered to live by faith and be encouraged that they are not alone,” he concludes.