Spirit Adrift’s Nate Garrett Talks New Album Plus Metallica

Search through Decibel’s backlog of articles, blogs, metal white papers (wait, they don’t exist), and pontifications, and you’ll find Arizona doom outfit Spirit Adrift occupying a large portion of your search results. To wit, a Best New noise feature (HERE), a song premiere from new album, “Curse of Conception” (HERE), an interview from “Chained to Oblivion” (HERE) and a scheduled appearance at the second annual Decibel Metal and Beer Fest (tickets here). That’s all by design. Since 2016’s anti-barn stormer “Chained to Oblivion” (Prosthetic Records), we Decibelians have formed an almost unhealthy appreciation for the Nate Garrett-powered band.

That affair, as it were, continues on new Spirit Adrift full-length, “Curse of Conception.” Written over a year by Garrett, Spirit Adrift traveled great songwriting lengths to improve upon last year’s excellent “Chained to Oblivion.” With songs like ‘Earthbound,’ ‘To Fly on Broken Wings,’ ‘Spectral Savior,’ and ‘Onward, Inward’, the album is a natural extension of and a reach beyond classic American doom metal. For certain, the trail was blazed by Trouble, Solitude Aeturnus, Revelation, While Heaven Wept, Confessor, et al., but Spirit Adrift are taking the saddest and slowest of metals to a new generation of long/short hair. They belong to the next wave. Acronyms unneeded — OK, NWOADM — Spirit Adrift will rightly upend the decades of derision or apathy towards doom metal from the United States. Consider us finally on par with Europeans from 1986.

Let’s all drift away with Nate Garrett.

“Curse of Conception” comes quickly after “Chained to Oblivion.” A year, basically. Are Spirit Adrift quick writers or was the material across the two full-lengths amassing over a longer period of time?
Nate Garrett: I wrote the “Spirit Adrift” EP in a few weeks and “Chained To Oblivion” in a few months. It just took them a while to come out. On the other hand, I worked on “Curse of Conception” in some capacity every day for about a year, not counting actual studio time. So I’m a pretty fast writer, but I really made sure this album was perfect. The other guys helped a lot with that.

How would you compare “Curse of Conception” to “Chained to Oblivion,” musically?
Nate Garrett: “Curse of Conception” is better. It has everything great about the previous releases, just better. Plus a bunch of new stuff the others didn’t have. My riff writing, songwriting, playing, singing, compositional focus… everything is better.

You’ve expanded the lineup on “Curse of Conception.” What’s it like working with Jeff [Owens; guitars, vocals], Chase [Mason; bass], and Marcus [Bryant; drums] after working the material for “Chained to Oblivion” by yourself?
Nate Garrett: It’s much more fun and less of a task. Having those guys involved brings it to another level and gives me a ton of confidence.

Spirit Adrift have an interesting musical diversity. There’s the traditional doom elements, some funeral doom elements, and some rather death metal elements. How do you make it all work cohesively?
Nate Garrett: It’s everything I love filtered through the lens of my personal and musical experiences. This album is the most me thing I’ve ever made. It’s honest. And I’m surprised you caught the death metal riffs, I thought I hid them pretty well. I guess there’s a fine line between Rwake harmonies and Morbid Angel harmonies.

Who are some of your influences compositionally? I know you have a laundry list of non-metal players you admire.
Nate Garrett: Metallica. Sabbath and Priest are close behind.

How do you separate Gatecreeper from Spirit Adrift creatively? I would think there’d be some good cross-pollination happening between bands.
Nate Garrett: I just recently began writing for Gatecreeper, and so far it’s been really easy to keep them separate. The cool thing is that Chase and I have a solid understanding of one another’s roles in each band, because our roles are basically reversed.

Lyrically, where is Spirit Adrift’s center? The band came together as a coping mechanism, so I understand it.
Nate Garrett: The lyrics are all deeply personal. My goal when writing lyrics is to come up with a metaphorical story that allows me to exorcise some stuff in a universal way. The subject matter is personal, but delivered in broad enough terms that it can resonate with everyone who hears it. I like using sci-fi, psychedelic type imagery. And death.

How did the Joe Petagno cover art come to be? He’s fairly high profile.
Nate Garrett: I emailed him and asked him to do it. This was way before I even finished writing the album, but I had the whole theme and idea for the cover figured out in my mind. He killed it. That guy is a legend.

He’s usually a reds and oranges color guy. Did you give him guidance on what you were looking to communicate?
Nate Garrett: He wanted to do this one green, but for some reason I thought of the Jimi Hendrix lyric “blue are the life giving waters taken for granted, that quietly understand.” I asked him to do it blue instead and he obliged.

Doom metal is gaining in popularity. In the US, bands like Pallbearer and Khemmis are getting a lot of attention. Pretty different compared to the days when Solitude Aeternus were out and nobody cared. What do you make of it?
Nate Garrett: I’m not totally sure. I’m just glad good bands are getting recognition. I want Spirit Adrift to go down in history as one of the best to ever do it, and I think now is a good time to make that happen.

** Spirit Adrift’s new album, Curse of Conception, is out now on 20 Buck Spin. Order CD and LP (HERE) or pose like it’s 1996. We’d rather you click the link, ’cause 1996 wasn’t a good year for doom metal.

** Spirit Adrift are also featured in Decibel’s December 2017 [#158] issue. Click HERE.