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Nathan Howdeshell – The Collapse Board Interview

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What were you like growing up? You grew up on a farm right?

Yes. I was very hated by the kids in my school … oh, what can I say about that? That’s a really long story [laughs]. That’s like the longest story. School was really horrible for me. It was an interesting place because it was this town that was run by Christians – I grew up Christian as well, I went to church – we couldn’t get MTV and … first of all it is a dry county and you can’t by alcohol there. It’s like a mafia that runs the town but it’s a mafia of Christians. There’s a college there called Harding College, it’s a Christians college and before I graduated, between the ages of 16 and 19, I worked at a Burger King there – which is hilarious by the way! [Laughs] So I worked at a Burger King in the college and they ran the town, nothing was allowed to be in there, you couldn’t even buy Gossip CDs in the shop there because we were considered a gay band and that was considered devil worship. It’s a weird town so living there made me feel weird, like outsider-ville.

I’m imagining a town like in one of those movies like Children Of The Corn, something like that.

[Laughs] Kind of like Children Of The Corn mixed with Footloose, does that makes sense?

Yeah kind of [laughs]. On your blog you have a picture of your dad and wrote underneath the photo that he is a ‘southern badass gentlemen’; what can you tell me about your folks?

Once again that’s also a mystery to me. Families in the South are interesting. What can I say about my dad? [pauses and thinks] He wanted to be a poet and wanted to be a physicist but he ended up digging ditches most of his life so that’s pretty interesting. It’s a long tale or hard work. Certain people are born in certain places maybe they shouldn’t have been born in I think. You can be a victim of your location.

I was just thinking about that this morning when I was journaling. I was writing a gratitude list of things I am thankful for like: clean water, food, a roof over my head and the fact that I live where I live and that I can go to my cupboard and have so many choices of what to eat — a lot of people don’t have that and they can’t help that sometimes, part of it has to do with where they’re born.

Exactly. I always think about that because in Arkansas … the history of the South is so twisted, there’s inbreeding and if you think about it like a 100 years ago we didn’t have cars, we didn’t have a way to go anywhere, we had a farm and we had our neighbors … it’s like how did they find people to date? It’s so interesting, the slowness of the city and the growth. There’s a lot to be said about the South and all that.

What is your first music-related memory?

Church for sure.

The hymns?

Yes the hymns were really amazing! Me and Beth both went to the same kind of church so we had the same songs we’d always sing and because we grew up as Southern Baptists which is the real strict Christian religion, all the songs are dark. Power in the Blood is one of the songs [sings the first lines of the song]. Now that you look at it and analyze the lyrics you realise they are so dark. The songs were very simple it was just organ and vocals.

How did you gravitate towards the punk scene and punk rock?

The only reason that I ever heard punk music was because I started skateboarding. I started skateboarding in 5th grade. It was right before skateboarding became popular, it was at a time when skateboarding was still punk. I got a hold of a Thrasher Magazine, I also had a cousin that was like punk for a week. He was a skateboarder as well. He was this guy that was really into hunting and shooting deer with arrows. I remember hanging out with him and he made me a mix tape with The Germs, Black Flag, Huggy Bear, The Velvet Underground and I listened to it and it scared the shit out of me. I also had Metallica tapes and my grandma burned them and ripped them up because they were satanic. The punk music that I heard I felt like it was outrageous. I keep that tape around forever and that’s what got me into punk music.

All the way down here in Australia it was the same kind of introduction for me. My parents have owned skate stores on and off since the 80s and I got into punk rock via my big brother who skateboarded and listened to punk rock.

Yeah skateboarding was like the gateway to punk for a while. Punk used to be anti-macho; skateboarding was anti-jock at one point, heavily anti-jock. There were American punk rock bands that were made of skateboarders and dedicated to making fun of football. There’s that band called 7 Seconds and they have that record called Sports and the whole fucking record is like [sings] “I’m a fucking stupid jock”, yelled over and over again. Nowadays skateboarding is very popular. That was one of my main things in middle school – I was a skateboarder that had a bowl cut that was long on one side, kind of angular, like an electro-clash girl haircut.

Oh I know the one!

[Laughs] Yeah. I had that haircut and was a skateboarder so everyone would call me a “skater fag” and I was like “Whatever! Fuck You! I don’t care” and listen to Suicidal Tendencies and The Germs which was so fucking weird now that I think about that. I then got concussion and stopped skateboarding. I had a near death experience which was really scary.

Wow! What happened?

That may have been one of the most terrifying moments for me. I had this skateboarding friend and his name was Bucky Carter which is an amazing name!

Ha! That’s exactly what I was thinking as you said it.

[Laughs] He was a friend who was this crazy white trash kid who was the only other skateboarder – his dad was this Californian white trash skater dude – and we used to skate a lot. I went to his house one day and there was this gigantic hill that we found, it was ultra-steep. He was like “Let’s bomb this hill!” like skateboard down it. I thought it looked kind of sketchy; it was like half gravel at the bottom [laughs]. Anyways, we skateboarded down this hill and I was going 50 fucking miles an hour and hit a rock and flew off my skateboard and rolled down the hill head over heels. I woke up and had a hallucination of fire and werewolves and was throwing up. He called 911 and I went to the doctor. My mum came and met me there. The doctor told me I had concussion and that my brain was swelling and not to go to sleep ’cause “if you go to sleep you may not wake up”. That terrified me. I stayed up for five days straight because I never wanted to go to sleep because I thought I might die. I had all these hallucinations of the walls catching on fire because of the wallpaper at my parents’ house, it was like this wood grain stuff. Terrifying, really terrifying!

When the brain swelling went down and things returned to normal did you notice if the incident had changed the way you thought or felt about life?

Maybe, this is an interesting conversation because it ties into a lot of things. I’m really interested in hallucinogenic drugs as just some sort of conscious of spiritual tool. I’ve never done acid. I’m terrified of acid. I would never do acid. I’ve done mushrooms and it’s been ultra-spiritual. When I had these hallucinations it really opened up my mind to the power of the mind. To be able to see something that’s not there, to be able to feel something that’s not there. Isn’t that a real powerful flexing of our minds?

Definitely. In my experience there are other dimensions and the best I can describe it, the easiest way I guess I can describe things, is that there’s like a network of train lines connecting everything and in certain states you can hop on these trains and ride the lines and go anywhere in the universe — possibilities are infinite. Everything is there we just have to learn how to tap into these things, if that makes sense?

Yes! That is actually exactly what I believe. Scientifically they’re saying that our brain only captures one one millionth of the images that are flashed before our eyes, our brains can only process what they’re allowed too. The amount of information that passes before our eyes and our brains are so disproportionate to what we get that it’s one one millionth of what we’re seeing and what we’re existing in. It’s amazing to think about. There’s all these other dimensions and realms and because we don’t think that we can see them they aren’t really there to be witnessed.

For me they are there and I know they exist.

Yeah absolutely, I think both of us are pretty awake to the fact. I think at this moment in time people need to understand consciousness, love and forgiveness. We’re in an interesting almost hippie-ish moment in time — it’s important. I think something interesting is really happening. People are able to see that more and more all the time.

You’d hope so.

Yeah, you would hope so.

Another thing they talk about in relation to 2012 is that there is going to be this big shift in global consciousness.

Oh exactly, it absolutely makes sense as well. Don’t you think that everything is going to change after a while? Things aren’t just going to stay the same forever. We’re not just going to be humans that just depend on physical connection. It only makes sense that things are going to be upgraded or there is going to be a change. There’s no way that time continues forever and there is just these same bland moments.

Like we were talking about, all the natural disasters happening worldwide, I think people are beginning to take a step back from things and take stock of what is really important and things are inspiring people to be more conscious.

Yeah, whenever there is a natural disaster … the kind of moments that happen in the media, I always try to understand that if we can create a moment that opens people’s consciousness, how do we do that? I think you can do it with being really loving and forgiving or being sweet and tender.

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