Tipping Point Out Loud: An Interview with Nathaniel Rateliff
We are fortunate to partner with Another Planet Entertainment and bring successful artists to perform for our community. In October, we welcomed nearly 500 guests to The Independent for a memorable Tipping Point Out Loud featuring Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. The sold-out show raised more than $130,000, every penny of which goes directly to the 45 organizations in our portfolio. We sat down with lead singer, Nathaniel Rateliff, and guitarist, Joseph “Joey” Pope just before they took the stage.
TPC: Your music has such soul and authenticity. How do you describe the sound?
Nathaniel: That’s what we set out to do. We started writing out of discouragement. We wrote to get that feeling of working music — music that gets you through it. The same stuff that we’d make dinner and play cards to as well.
Joey: We’ve gotten feedback that it’s just nice to hear real music — we’re not the only ones doing it, but we are doing something straightforward and guttural.
TPC: We know you’ve always valued giving to others, especially people who may not be as fortunate as you. Can you tell us about that and where your desire to help came from?
Nathaniel: I learned it from my Dad. When I was younger, I remember seeing my Dad care for people who were struggling. I saw him buy food and clothes for those who didn’t have anything. So taking care of others has always been a thing I’ve cared about a lot. When I first moved to Denver, we worked with an organization that served a lot of homeless people.
Joey: The biggest thing I’ve learned from our experience is people who are homeless need to be treated like they’re humans. A lot of times being in poverty means you lose all dignity and you don’t get treated like a person. It shouldn’t be that way.
Nathaniel: And a lot of those people are veterans, and they’re out there on the streets because they’re not getting the help they need; they could be living totally different lives if they had gotten the proper care.
TPC: You’ve both spoken about what it feels like to hold down multiple jobs to make ends meet. Tipping Point exists to serve low-income people, many of whom are grinding it out every day, doing whatever they can to create an opportunity for themselves and their families. Do you have any advice from that time in your lives?
Joey: Growing up in Hermann, Missouri, there was not much to do. We both worked in a plastic factory. And to put it in perspective, I was painting houses as my source of income up until a year ago. A year later, we headlined at Red Rocks.
Nathaniel: It’s crazy. We used to ride our motorcycles up to Red Rocks and say we’re going to play there some day. We have a bit of a feeling of guilt from having money. We’ve worked a lot in the past 18 months and we both do the best to help our family out because a lot of our family lives in poverty.
Joey: We’ve been at this really hard; it’s been tough on our families, but being able to do something like this tonight that supports such a need in the community means a lot. We were able to do something similar recently with Farm Aid, an organization that brings people together through urban gardens and teaching people how to cook with vegetables and maintain a healthy way of eating. Breaking the cycle of poverty is tough, but sometimes seeing hope or possibility of change can be restorative, more than even money can be at times.
TPC: Music brings people together. It’s one of the reasons we put music at the center of several of our events. What do you think music does for a community?
Nathaniel: I always feel like music and food bring people together. You put a lot of heart into music, and if you like to cook, you do the same thing. Those are always the best times sitting in the kitchen playing songs, waiting for a meal to get done. That’s community.
I want people to be more involved in our communities. The culture we live in now, everyone is somewhere else because of their phones. There’s a sense of instant gratification that we can all get whatever we want, whenever we want, and that’s a real drag because you forget to appreciate and be present. Music helps you be present; it helps you be in the moment.