“It’s less a question of ‘why now?’ and more ‘why only now?’… That’s how I feel now the ball is finally rolling and these songs are finally starting to get out there.” For Nate Mendel, bassist in Foo Fighters and revered first-wave emo pioneers Sunny Day Real Estate, a solo career is something “I’d always wanted to explore but the timing was never right.” Then a realisation struck him. “There’s never a right time!” he tells NME. “Schedules are always packed. There are always other commitments. So it was important I just bit the bullet and did this. Or maybe I never would.”
There’s a similar feel of now-or-never to the urgent, affirming ‘If I Kill This Thing We’re All Going To Eat For A Week’ – Nate’s first solo album, released under the name Lieutenant US next week. An impressive marriage of Sunny Day’s intimate soul-purging and Foos’ powerful guitar heft, it’s a masterstroke of understated college rock that, from the deliciously fuzzy ‘Rattled’ to sun-splashed, Shins-ish stomper ‘The Place You Wanna Go’, urges you to take life by the scruff of the neck. “It’s a pretty personal album,” says Nate. “I’d never written lyrics before but I wanted it to come from somewhere authentic, somewhere real.”
Spurred on by his Foo Fighters band mates (“Dave, everyone, they’ve all been crazily supportive”), the record is no vanity project, but a serious passion project for Mendel, who’s already beginning to look ahead to the second Lieutenant US album, having made his first daunting steps into the live arena as a solo act recently. “It was pretty nerve-wracking those first shows, because I’ve been onstage a hundred thousand times before, but never in that spotlight, you know? What if people don’t like my voice? What if… well, there are a million what ifs. Thankfully, the response has been pretty overwhelming so far.” Give the record a listen below, exclusively on NME.com.
‘If I Kill This Thing We’re All Going To Eat For A Week’ is out on March 9 via Dine Alone Records.