Natural Child's Van Is Such A Disease.
Behind every great band is a great van. And when these former church vans, daycare buses and plumber's work vehicles have racked up enough miles on the road, they eventually start being thought of by the band as another member of the team. Hey, we get it: It's hard to spend so many hours with bandmates (both human and machine) without a few things getting broken, a few good fights taking place and lots of great memories being made. We hope that, by exploring these stories, we might get to know some bands from both North Texas and beyond on a more personal level. Check out this feature's archives here.
Southern-flavored Nashville garage outfit Natural Child is certainly in it for the love of the game. It's got to be — because, when not making records that the whole world can boogie to, the band is always on the road.
That's a good thing, too. Because with each release — as evidenced most recently by 2014's Dancin' With Wolves — the boys' sound only grows stronger.
The band's van, on the other hand, isn't holding up as well after eight to 10 months of the year spent on the road for three years running now. To hear Natural Child tell it, as they did to us just before rocking Three Links a couple weeks back, the band's van currently exists in a constant state of deterioration.
And yet the boys still love it. I guess the more time you spend with something, the more attached to it you'll invariably grow.
Band Name: Natural Child.
Van Name: Van Buren.
Year/Make/Model: 1998 Ford Econoline E150 V8.
Mileage: “We've put him through a lot…”
How did you come up with your van's name?
Seth Murray (Guitar/ Vocals): “I don't know! Steve made it up. But he's not here.”
Seth: “Steve's our other guitar player. But he's not on this tour. He's got some other shit going on for a couple months. But Steve named him. We've only had this van three years — and he only got a name about three months ago.”
Zack Martin (Drums): “Well, he doesn't even deserve it.”
Seth: “No, he does deserve it!”
Then how did Steve come up with the name?
Zack: “Van Buren is the name of a small-town president, Martin Van Buren.”
Wes Traylor (Bass/Vocals): “Let's see: 'Van' is in there.”
Seth: “That's where it all came from.”
Wes: “It's a good name.”
Seth: “It works because you can be like, 'Van Buren's a sonofabitch!'”
Zack: “Yeah, but it's a fucking piece of shit on tour, y'know? Like 'Van Buren's being a real ass today.'”
Seth: “'Where's Van Buren today?'”
Wes: “'Yeah, where's Van Buren today? Anybody seen Van Buren?'”
How'd you acquire Van Buren?
Wes: “We bought him from our friend Noonan.”
You gripped it from Sean?
Seth: “You bet. For not that much money! About a few hundred bucks — a couple months of free rent. This tour, he's [Van Buren] been a real bitch. Yeah, he's got some problems right now. The alignment's been really bad and he kind of shakes. You get to going about 70…”
Wes: “Or like 30 or 20… It shakes all day. The A/C cuts out if you accelerate too hard.”
Seth: “The rear A/C blows cold and hot at the same time.”
Wes: “And there's one seat in the van that is really hot.”
Zack: “It's called 'The Hot Seat.'”
Seth: “We don't really call it that.”
Zack: “Y'know why we call it that name?”
Zack: “Because it's hot.”
Seth: “So far this tour, Van Buren's had maggots, a flat tire, a screw that fell out from underneath the steering wheel. The alternator died. The fuel line had issues.”
Wes: “We had to fix the fuel line.”
Seth: “Two dead batteries.”
Wes: “We were out West and pushed it to the AutoZone.”
Zack: “We pushed it into a parking lot. We were really close and then the van was barely hanging on and died — about 200 feet away. Yeah, luck has been on our side.”
Sounds like it! So why have you kept hanging on to Van Buren, then?
Seth: “We need it. I'm not sure what keeps us loving her.”
Wes: “We need her. We want something bigger and new. If anybody wants to give us any deals, we could trade or blow her up. But for now, we need her. We love her 'cause we need her.”
Seth: “Him. Van Buren's a him.”
What's been the most fun part of touring with Van Buren?
Zack: “A new alternator was pretty fun!”
Seth: “Me and our friend Jono in Denver installed that on a day we were supposed to be driving to Seattle. Also, the thing that keeps the spare tire underneath the car fell off when this place was replacing a tire for us. That was pretty cool, I guess. We had maggots. We knew we had maggots, but we left and it took us two days before we could vacuum them all out.”
Wes: “Those maggots almost made it out to Denver.”
Seth: “It took us a few days get 'em.”
Zack: “Those maggots almost made to Denver.”
Wes: “They actually might have been from Chicago food. Those Chicago maggots almost made it to Denver.”
Sounds like you guys could have started a whole new disease.
Wes: “If you bring maggots from Chicago to Tennessee to Denver, you might a have new disease.”
Zack: “A new kind of fly! We also fixed the gear shifter.”
Seth: “Yeah, that's right!”
Wes: “A screw fell out in Montana and hit Zack's foot.”
Zack: “I was driving and screw fell on my foot. I was like, 'Oh. A screw fell out. I'm not sure what this is.' So I just kept driving, and then we pulled over, and when we tried to leave, we couldn't put it in reverse. But we fixed that pretty quickly.”
Seth: “We stopped somewhere and crawled up in there and put it all back together. It's working now.”
Who does most of the driving?
Zack: “We all drive.”
Benny Bailey (Guitar/ Keys): “I drive the fastest.”
Seth: “Yeah, Benny drives the fastest.”
Is there anything else you'd like to add about Van Buren?
Seth: “It's a really a good van that we've somehow got to work. It's a real sonofabitch. But the more we do to him, the more I like him.”
Wes: “The more he lets us do to him, the more I like him. Van Buren's probably really happy right now that he's getting this much attention.”