Spotlight of the Week: Nate John Herlache

Nate John Herlache is a singer-songwriter hailing from Port Washington. Finding himself increasingly into playing guitar and writing songs the last few years, Nate has kept it consistent with gigs this year and has been preparing to release his debut record for some time now. A warm and friendly dude, he’s very approachable after shows and is eager to keep meeting people in and around Milwaukee.

ME: To start, tell me about how you got involved with Wisconsin Music Ventures.

NATE: So, actually it’s a crazy story. Like a lot of musicians, we cycle guitars like they’re trading cards (laughs). We think we’re buying our lifetime guitar and end up selling it and buying something else because something shiny catches our eye. Well, I was selling one of my old Martins on Facebook Marketplace to this older gentleman from Sheboygan named Craig, and when he came into my house we started swapping music, swapping stories, playing, talking crap, and just hanging out. When you meet a fellow musician you just feel that passion and feel like you’re friends right away. I was telling him about my music and some of the gigs I had coming up and recording I was working on, and he told me that he found this really cool new page called Wisconsin Music Ventures and that they feature up-and-coming young artists like myself, get them gigs, build websites, and help them promote, and I really had to look into that. I DM’ed the Ventures page saying that I was interested in their services if I fit their mold or criteria, and I talked to Allison a bit with a few Zoom conferences, and she listened to some of my stuff and decided she wanted to work with me, and I haven’t looked back since. It’s been quite a fun journey these past couple months.

ME: Hell yeah man.

NATE: And I made money off that guitar while learning about Wisconsin Music Ventures on the same day, so it was a successful sale in the fullest form.

ME: Double-whammy (laughs).

ME: That’s wonderful. So I’ve got a couple fun questions for you. I know that you hail from Port Washington – tell me about Fish Day. What’s it all about?

NATE: First of all, it’s the largest one-day fish fry I believe in the world. COVID kind of knocked it down lately; we had it again this year in full force and it was glorious. Basically, it’s like a Christmas Day for townies. If you’ve lived in town your whole life like I have or if you moved away out of state, everybody all comes back and converges and drinks and listens to music and eats fried fish and chips. That’s literally it. There’s a parade and you see everybody that you don’t usually see, and yeah – you pretty much just drink in the sun all day long. It’s great (laughs).

ME: Man, that sounds like a real good time.

NATE: I wish there were two of them a year.

ME: I found out about Fish Day from browsing Port Washington on Wikipedia (laughs). Have you played it before?

NATE: I haven’t played it; I got a couple gig offers on that Saturday – like private kegger parties people were doing – but in all honesty, as much as I would’ve loved to play for those people, there’s just something about cracking a beer at 7:30AM and just seeing where the day takes you, not having a care in the world. I cordially declined and just enjoyed the day.

ME: Hey man, as long as you’re enjoying it on one side of it whether you’re playing or just getting drunk and eating fish.

NATE: Playing on Fish Day and having a crowd is kind of like that backbone Port Washington artist resume. I had the offers to do it but I was just too excited to indulge on the day. Maybe next year I’ll reframe my attitude (laughs). But I had a damn good time.

ME: Right on man. I want to go next year.

NATE: Dude, you should! There’s always something going on. Come on down. If you go once, you’ll probably go every year because it’s just that kind of event.

ME: So, you’re also a goose hunter. How would you describe the way goose tastes?

NATE: Well, goose by itself in the most broad, over-arching way to describe it is gamey (laughs). It tastes like meat but it’s got that little tinge of bitterness at the end. What you’ve got to do is take it into a butcher who really knows what they’re doing and I’m not really at this point yet; me and my brother are trying to be sausage connoisseurs but we don’t quite have the touch yet. But you’ve got to take it into a place where they can combine it with pork and seasonings and spices and then make it into a brat or hot dog or sausage sticks. It’ll taste like any other cured meat – it’s fantastic. But goose straight-up – if you throw it on the grill with a little butter, flip it over and try to eat it – it’s not gonna be that great. You’ve got to get a little saucy with it.

ME: Okay, well you know what you’re doing, so I’d love to try it.

NATE: Trust me, next time we hang out you’ve got to remind me to bring you some sticks. I swear you’ll like them.

ME: Hey, I’m cultured. I could do it.

NATE: Good, you’re in. I’m gonna remember that. You’ll be on a goose-only diet any time now.

ME: You just find me foraging in a park for geese hiding in the bushes (laughs).

NATE: You’re in a Ghillie suit (laughs).

ME: Back to the music, so you’ve played a decent amount of gigs this year so far. What’s been your favorite venue you’ve played?

NATE: It’s been a really busy summer, first and foremost. There’s gigs every week, which I’ve never had before; it was always a little more spotty. But this year it’s been super consistent as I’ve gained a little bit more notoriety, and actually the gigs from Wisconsin Music Ventures have been my favorite because the people that have been attending those events are there to see original music and up-and-comers. I would say they’re a little more attentive with the listening process. My favorite venue this year was at the Sharon Wilson Center. Everybody showed up right at show time and we had like 75 people there all in lawn chairs out in front of me. Nobody talked during a song; everybody listened to every one of my lyrics and people came up to me after the show to say they resonated with my songs. I really felt like a songwriter after I played there, and for that, it’ll forever be one of my favorite gigs of all-time. It was unforgettable.

ME: Man, that’s wonderful. It’s got to be really empowering as a songwriter who doesn’t have that much out yet on streaming platforms, to have that kind of warm reception.

NATE: Exactly. You know, it doesn’t take much to make our day as a songwriter. We just work so hard and pour our heart and soul into this stuff, and when somebody resonates with one little detail, you think about it for a long time.

ME: Love that. Good for you man!

ME: My last question for you is what we expect for the next few months? What are you working on?

NATE: Let’s see. I’m playing in Door County in August, Beanies in Port, plus a few other gigs. That album we’ve talked about in earlier interviews is more of a four-piece EP of songs I’ve written in the past year. I’m looking to announce that in the next week or two. I’ve got everything mastered and ready to go; Hit or Miss Studios knocked it out of the park as they usually do – shoutout to Mr. Jackson Fricke. I’ve got artwork all set and I’ve just got to get it submitted and announced. I’ve been working with Will Pfrang to get a little promotional campaign going and I’ll have a release show too. This will all be going on in the next couple weeks. Keep your eyes and your ears open because these are gonna be some good songs; we’ve got some fiddle, banjo, and good bass. They’re some of my favorite songs that I’ve ever written and they mean a lot to me.

ME: Hey man, give me all of that you’ve got.

Nate John Herlache – singer/songwriter


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