“From the musician who won the 2012 48 Hour Music Video Project award for Best Music Video and the Audience Choice Award for best song, comes indie folk rock singer/songwriter Nathan Marshall’s first ever EP album entitled What Ships Are For. Set for a worldwide release on Tuesday, July 22nd, What Ships Are For takes us into the eccentric and inventive mind of a man who found his soul in the mountains of Tibet, found his humor on the stand-up comedy stages of New York City, found confidence from his time on movie and television sets, found wisdom from his years as a public educator, found humility from his belief in God, and found his music in the world surrounding us all.”

Nathan Marshall’s debut EP ” What Ships Are For” drops today and you can pick it up here. There are contributions from Jim Avett and R.J. and Karen Dietrich of Essential Machine on the music and I want to thank Nathan for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?

I was eleven and I won a candy bar sale contest in school. Therefore, I won a CD player. Went to the local Hills department store (now bankrupt…), and I bought a spin-off album of the movie ‘Lion King’ called “Lion King Rhythm in the Pride Lands”, and my mother got me a “Herman’s Hermits Greatest Hits” album. Looking back, spending my days jamming out to “I’m Henry the VIII, I am. I got married to the widow next door, and she has been married seven times before…” and waking up to “The Circle of Life” every day during my fifth grade year might seem like a strange introduction to music to some (more like the musical background of a guy like ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic instead of my musical style). However, it was my introduction to music, and I have loved it ever since. So, I guess it turned out alright.

Your last album bought?

Panic at the Disco “Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!” I really was excited about this album, so much so that I even went as far as to not even previewing the album on iTunes. I just picked up the CD, put it in my car, and was extremely saddened to hear all the audio filters they put on Brendon Urie’s unique and amazing voice… It was a choice that really makes me sad that this was the last album I bought. It now has a permanent home in the CD archives of my house. I literally didn’t even put it on my computer. That is how disappointed I was in it.

Favorite album of all time?

As with every album, even some of the greats like Johnny Cash, not every song on the album can be as strong as some of the other songs. Even albums like greatest hit albums often lead to the listener to hit the skip button once in a while. There are literally two albums that I can tell you right now that I don’t skip any song when they come on, and that is The Avett Brother’s album “I and Love and You” and Fun.’s album “Some Nights”. These two works are not only amazing works, but I have also been fortunate enough to see them play these songs live, and that even adds a new element of enjoyment to these already great albums.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?

Currently, the Panic at the Disco one I mentioned before. I know the band has had creative differences and have been on again and off again and members going one way or another, but the Panic at the Disco that appeared in their album “Pretty Odd” was my favorite. They were inventive and unique and they were making music that was not like all the other stuff out there. Their lyrics were also super great and memorable in that album. As you can tell, I’m disappointed… Hahaha!

First concert attended?

Barenaked Ladies. I would say the country musician Sawyer Brown, when I was in second grade, but I fell asleep during it. Evidently, I was not that impressed, ha-ha! I just remember lots of lights, a fog machine, homemade signs asking for Sawyer Brown to marry them, extremely tight jeans (literally, they are the reason country musicians in the 90’s just moved side-to-side when they danced on stage, because they really couldn’t even bend over…), cowboy hats, and the back of my eyelids. Anyways, we will go with Barenaked Ladies. My great friend Bobby Greiner got tickets (he might have won the tickets from the radio). I wasn’t a super huge fan at the time (remember, I was a junior in high school and I grew-up listening to Herman’s Hermits and “Lion King Rhythm in the Pride Lands”, ha-ha), and my mother was leery to let me go because the band’s name. Anyhow, I went and had one of the greatest nights of my young life. We had ‘freedom”, we got the autographs of a side stage band called the Candy Butchers (who we swore would be “bigger than The Beatles”. Of course, that never happened…), and I got the phone number of the high school girl of my dreams. I guess the music was alright that night too, but I was in high school, I was more worried about the social aspects of the concert going experience at the time.

Last concert?

The Avett boys. I have come a long way in my music going experience since Barenaked Ladies, ha-ha! To this day, I believe there is no more fun, unique, exciting concert going experience than listening to Jim’s boys. They are consummate entertainers, and they bring it each and every single night. There literally is not a harder working band or a more entertaining one on the road today. This and the constant attention to detail that the boys put forth is extremely impressive. They are putting on a clinic as to what it means to have a successful band.

Favorite concert ever?

The Avett Brothers show at Capitol Music Hall in Wheeling, WV. What that venue lacks up in the confines of theatre type seating, it makes up for in history, ambiance, and just a great place to have a rock concert. We walked out of the show that night with our mouths open in amazement at the show we had just seen. I would argue that anyone who was there that night would list this concert as their favorite as well.

Least favorite concert?

Obviously, Sawyer Brown, hahaha! However, I do remember sleeping like a baby, so maybe it wasn’t as tiresome as I remember.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh? Wow. I love everything about this city. It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son… Wait, sorry, that’s Lebron James letter announcing his return to the Cleveland Caviliers… I thought that sounded familiar, ha-ha! All joking aside though, I have been fortunate enough in my life to go to many, many cities from Venice to Beijing to London to Hollywood to New York City, and I can tell you honestly, there is no greater city than Pittsburgh, PA! I learned here, I grew up here, I became the person I am today here. As an artist, I sometimes feel like a fish out of water here, because I feel there is only so far you can make it here before you have to move somewhere else to get to that next level, but what it lacks in big artistic opportunities it makes up for in family, great friends, and a million other things that are more important than fame. Often times, as an artist, you are humbled by the realities and current limitations of this city, but humility isn’t a bad thing. We all need a little more humility in this world. Other than that, favorite experiences?

  1. Pittsburgh Pirates games – Most notably, being at the Wild Card playoff victory last year. An amazing day to be a Pittsburgher.
  2. Coming through Fort Pitt tunnel and seeing all the adventure and beauty that awaits you in the labyrinth that is our city.
  3. The South Side! As a young man, this was a little slice of paradise. All the shops, the live music, the art that is so alive there, and the youth that this area promotes, makes you glad to have spent a majority of your life here.
  4. Acting – I ever dreamed as a young man that I would have ever been on TV. Pittsburgh afforded me more times to be on that box than I ever imagined was possible. Through commercials, news stories, and even movies, I became a Screen Actor’s Guild member, and I have lived out my wildest dreams, created new wildest dreams, and then lived them out too. It has been a great cycle.
  5. The fact that there is always something interesting and very much alive happening in the city. I have no clue how anyone could ever say they are bored in our city. Some of the best memories I have are stumbling into some unexpected event and staying for hours. The city does a great job of keeping things lively.
  6. Getting my stand-up comedy start at the Funny Bone when it was at Station Square. This start took me to perform on professional stages all over (from New York City to Hollywood) with the likes of Chris Rock, Judah Friedlander, Harland Williams, Jim Breuer, Dave Attell, Jay Mohr, etc. Again, without the opportunities in Pittsburgh or the support of Pittsburgh, this never would have been possible.

Thanks, Nathan. I have really been enjoying this EP. You sure do have some really talented folks helping you out for sure!