"A band with complex, rich and often velvety melodies... Schellin's vocal stylings bring to mind such greats as Bono and Richard Ashcroft...guaranteed to take-up prolonged residence in your CD player." (The Album Network)
"Lush, emphatically beat-based music that relies on sharp melodies and existential poetry to get over... addictive, architecturally sound..." (The Daily Page / Isthmus Weekly)
"A confident, eclectic coolness." (Songwriter's Monthly)
"Great songs, classic sound... one of the best pop albums... utterly enchanting, ultimately endearing... stronger than most bands' greatest-hits collections."(American Reporter)
"One song was enough to draw me in... high levels of musicianship... I was happy to run across this CD!" (MusicMatch)
These are just a few of the ways reviewers described Outerstar's debut album.
And radio, fickle as it can be, caught-on immediately. Outerstar's first single, "You Love It When It Rains" -- described by one reviewer as a "timeless... absolutely perfect" pop song -- reached the top of the radio charts, and spawned commercial offers from none other than The Gap.
And there is the story of two life-long musicians behind it all...
"It was one of those times when you feel an instant connection," explains Chris of the first meeting with Nat. "We pretty much started working together right after that."
Soon after they set up in Chris' home and quickly fleshed out and recorded one of the first songs Nat had written in his teens. As they listened to the playback, looking out from the hilltop house above Los Angeles, they realized they were onto something.
On the surface, the pairing of Nat and Chris seems unlikely, given that they came from disparate backgrounds. Nat was born to hippie-movement parents in Baltimore, MD and raised in Miami, FL. His parents divorced when he was young, and Nat grew up living a split-life between the two households. His mother provided structure and discipline during the week; his father offered a party-time weekend escape. Nat cherished the time he spent listening to music with his father and his eccentric group of friends. "My dad would let me turn the stereo way up and I would just get up and sing one song after another till I was too tired to sing another note. I was obsessed. I loved it." It was an environment that created and encouraged the music artist and the absolute dreamer in Nat.
As he grew older, Nat's love of music developed further, drawing from some of his father's favorites such as Bob Dylan, The Beatles and Beethoven, and finding his own heroes in bands such as U2 and singers like Tom Waits and Frank Sinatra. By this time other people started discovering his voice, and the encouragement and attention from his family and friends led him to pursue his talent.
Nat auditioned and was accepted into The New World School of The Arts, where he was classically trained in an intensive voice study program. Though the school had nurtured him as a singer and had exposed him to music from around the world, in time he began to feel artistically stifled by the rigid program. "I had been in the school for awhile, and I felt like, 'OK, I've been given a great foundation; I've learned the structure, and now I need to break it.'" It was then that he began writing his own songs and searching for his own voice. After graduating, Nat decided to move to Los Angeles to attend the USC School of Music. However, after three years at The New World School, he felt "schooled out," and left the university after a year. He joined a handful of bands, but each situation left him dissatisfied… until he met Chris.
As Nat was experiencing the hippie lifestyle with his father in Miami, Chris Martin was being raised on the opposite coast in the conservative environment of Orange County, California. His parents both had a love of music - classical, 50's music and The Beatles were regulars on the stereo. Early on Chris developed an ear and a talent for music. From age four into his teens, Chris studied classical piano, and while in high school he began to soak up all kinds of music, from rock to jazz to pop and new wave and punk. His desire to break out of the conservative mindset of Orange County only fueled his dream of writing his own music and pursuing a music career in Los Angeles.
Throughout high school and college, Chris played in several groups, beginning on piano, switching over to keyboards, then to bass and eventually to guitar. Like Nat, he found himself in bands that never quite gelled, and ultimately fizzled. Just before meeting Nat, Chris was in a group which he thought showed promise; but one day their drummer left the band, and without finding a compatible replacement quickly, the band fell apart.
When Nat and Chris started to work together, they decided that they worked best writing and recording songs as a duo rather than collaborating with a band. While Nat provides the vocals, lyrics and melodies, and Chris plays multiple instruments, they work together to write the instrumentations.
Operating under the "there are no rules" philosophy, they worked relentlessly to develop their sound. They experimented by incorporating a variety of traditionally non-rock instruments as well as electronics into the basic pop/rock foundation, creating a blend of modern and organic sounds. "As artists, we want to grow, to keep trying new things and allow the music to evolve," says Nat. "For example, the standard rock guitar solo has been done, and it's just not interesting to us to redo it. To satisfy ourselves, we wanted to take what we've learned from our influences, and change it up a bit: create something new, something we can call our own."
During the recording process, Nat and Chris tend to become reclusive, keeping distractions and outside influences to a minimum. Nat and Chris see it as a simple approach to making music. "We do what gets us off. Period," declares Nat. "Regardless of what happens, I think people can respect that we've made the record we wanted to make - one we made without compromise."
Now, with the recording process complete, they are ready to share their music with others. "It's like we've been holding onto this thing, breathing in as much of it as we can into our systems," he says. "Now it's time to pass it on - to let others share in our experience. Hopefully, they'll enjoy the trip as much as we have."