Interview: Mister Heavenly

Mister Heavenly - Photo by Jacqueline Di Milia

Mister Heavenly - Photo by Jacqueline Di Milia

After a combined experience of years and years playing in a variety of bands, the members of Mister Heavenly aren’t looking to be groundbreaking or earth-shattering in what they do.

“We’re at this stage in our musical careers where…our primary motivation is to enjoy ourselves,” said member Nicholas Thorburn (known onstage as Nick Diamonds, the man behind the bands Islands and the Unicorns).

In addition to Thorburn, the band also features a roster of Ryan Kattner (Man Man) and Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse, The Shins), making the three something of a supergroup in the indie rock world. But because they are veterans in a sense, the point of the band is less about people liking them and more about themselves liking what they’re doing.

“If millions of people get into it, that’s great. But ultimately, we’re just trying to have a good time,” Thorburn said. “It’s a very hedonist approach.”

The band appeared on the musical radar after releasing two songs earlier this year and hitting the road in support of Passion Pit. An on tour bassist in the form of Michael Cera didn’t hurt the band’s reputation either. Meanwhile, Mister Heavenly’s debut album, “Out of Love,” was released on Sub Pop in August of this year.

“I haven’t read one negative thing,” Thorburn said of the reaction. “Everyone seems to be on board with what we’re doing.”

The band recently began its first European tour, although a friend is filling in for Plummer, who has prior obligations with the Shins. These kinds of things, often unforeseen, are what Thorburn pointed out as the only real downside to Mister Heavenly.

“It’s really problematic. It’s probably the only negative thing about this, is having to schedule [things],” he said. “It’s always tricky, ’cause we all have active, you know, main projects.”

Regardless, the three do what they can, and Thorburn said that for him, the excitement of playing Europe again for the first time in three years outweighs most everything else. Furthermore, of all the cities Mister Heavenly has played or will play, he admitted Berlin is his favourite.

And while he said crowds all over the globe tend to be somewhat similar in composition, an interesting phenomenon he noted is that the audiences of the more remote locations tend to stand out in his mind.

“I think the general rule of thumb is the more deprived an audience is of your music, the more special it is, the more of an occasion, and the more they appreciate it,” he explained.

And because of the emphasis on enjoying every aspect of the project, Thorburn also shared that touring is one of his favourite things about being in a band. Yet it extends beyond the pure pleasure of it, to practical reasons as well.

“I think touring is the best way to improve as a musician and a performer,” he said. “Nothing is going to make you better at your craft than doing it every night and doing it again and again and again. And yeah, there is a monotony to playing the songs over and over again, but I don’t think there’s any better way to, like, get to know your skill set and improve…than to do that.”

Looking at his projects over the years, Thorburn said the consistently most rewarding part of it is hearing a song he’s written for the very first time.

“When a song is written, when a song comes together, when it feels like a completed song, even before the studio enters the picture, that’s the best feeling,” he said. “‘Cause there’s always a fear that it’s going to stop, you know? The ability to write a song, or write a song that I feel happy with, and so I think that’s the most rewarding feeling, is the writing. It’s the writing and the seeing to fruition, seeing the song come to life.”

Mister Heavenly plays tonight at Privatclub in Berlin. The show begins at 20.00.

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