Nathaniel (Nate) Walcott (born March 6, 1978) is an American musical composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist. He has composed the scores for four feature-length films, including 2014's The Fault in Our Stars. He is a member of the band Bright Eyes, and has played in Conor Oberst's Mystic Valley Band and with singer/songwriter M. Ward. He has also toured with the likes of the James Mercer and Danger Mouse-led group Broken Bells, Rilo Kiley, and the Glenn Miller Orchestra. In the studio, he has performed on the albums of such artists as She & Him, U2, Beck, Jason Mraz, Maroon 5, and the Shins and has contributed arrangements to artists such as First Aid Kit, Jenny Lewis, Rilo Kiley, Pete Yorn, Cursive, The Faint, Eleni Mandell, Harper Simon, Maria Taylor, Rachael Yamagata, and The Concretes.
Nathaniel Clifford Walcott was born on March 6, 1978 in Albany, New York. While a young child, his family moved to the Central New York village of East Homer. When Walcott was 8, his family moved to Lincoln, Nebraska.
While a high school student in Lincoln, Walcott played in several Lincoln-based bands, including Kid Quarkstar, with longtime friend and future Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine. He also met musicians Mike Mogis, A.J. Mogis, and Ted Stevens of Lincoln-based band Lullaby for the Working Class, with whom he recorded and toured.
After graduating from high school in 1996, Walcott went on to attend DePaul University in Chicago, majoring in jazz performance. He took time off from his studies to tour both with the renowned big band The Glenn Miller Orchestra and Lullaby for the Working Class.
After university, Walcott engaged in freelance recording, arranging, and performing work with a very wide variety of artists including the Chicago-based groups Las Guitarras de Espana, the Mighty Blue Kings, and Pinetop Seven. He was also active in the improvisational and “experimental” music scene, performing with the likes of David Boykin, Mike Reed, and Keefe Jackson at such places as Fred Anderson’s Velvet Lounge, the Hungry Brain, and the Green Mill, and also led his own group, the Nate Walcott Octet. While living in Chicago, both in college and after, Walcott remained connected to Nebraska, working as an arranger and player on records being produced by Mike Mogis for artists such as The Faint, Rilo Kiley, and Johnathan Rice.
While still a student and collaborating with musicians in the vibrant Lincoln and Omaha music scenes, Walcott met singer-songwriter Conor Oberst of the bands Bright Eyes, Commander Venus, and Desaparecidos. Walcott joined Bright Eyes on its tour in support of 2002's album Lifted or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground and also on most subsequent tours after the “Lifted” tour. Walcott played on 2005's studio recordings I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and the live album Motion Sickness.
In 2006, in preparation for writing and recording Bright Eyes' next album, Walcott, along with producer and guitarist Mike Mogis, was named a permanent member of the group. Cassadaga was released on April 10, 2007. Walcott co-wrote "Coat Check Dream Song." Following a five-month tour of the United States, Walcott wrote the arrangements for the band's appearance at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.
Walcott followed up the Cassadaga tour by collaborating with Oberst (along with Nik Freitas, Taylor Hollingsworth, Macey Taylor, and Jason Boesel) on his solo efforts, 2008's Conor Oberst and 2009's Outer South. The group came to be known as the Mystic Valley Band as a nod to the location of the 2008 recording, a villa named Valle Mistico in Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico.
In 2010, Walcott toured as music director and multi-instrumentalist for Broken Bells, an innovative collaboration between James Mercer and Danger Mouse. Later that year, he returned to the studio with Oberst and Mogis to record the next Bright Eyes album. The People's Key was released on February 15, 2011. Walcott co-wrote the song "Approximate Sunlight." Highlights of his time with Bright Eyes over the years include numerous tours of North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, and performances at such venues as New York City's Radio City Music Hall and London’s Royal Albert Hall.
In recent years, Walcott has done extensive freelance recording and arranging work, including with She & Him, U2, Beck, Jenny Lewis, First Aid Kit, Rilo Kiley, the Shins, and Maroon 5. He has also maintained a busy freelance performing schedule with the likes of M. Ward, Eleni Mandell, The Living Sisters, Jonathan Wilson, Harper Simon, and Zavalaz, a new band led by Cedric Bixler-Zavala of The Mars Volta. Walcott has continued to occasionally join Conor Oberst during his recent solo performances, including his November 2013 performance at Carnegie Hall.
Walcott has composed scores for three feature-length films with fellow Bright Eyes member Mike Mogis:
- 2014's The Fault in Our Stars, a film adaptation of 2012's critically acclaimed novel by John Green, directed by Josh Boone and starring Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, and Nat Wolff.
- 2013's Stuck in Love, written and directed by Josh Boone and starring Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Lily Collins, Nat Wolff, and Logan Lerman.
- 2008's Lovely, Still, written and directed by Nik Fackler and starring cinematic luminaries Ellen Burstyn and Martin Landau.
Selected album appearances
- She & Him - Classics (2014 · Columbia Records)
- Beck - Song Reader (2014 · Capitol Records)
- U2 - Songs of Innocence (Deluxe) (2014 · Island Records)
- Jenny Lewis - The Voyager (2014 · Warner Bros. Records)
- Conor Oberst - Upside Down Mountain (2014 · Nonesuch Records)
- First Aid Kit - Stay Gold (2014 · Columbia Records)
- Broken Bells - After the Disco (2014 · Columbia Records)
- Stuck in Love Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2013 · Varèse Sarabande)
- Rilo Kiley - Rkives (2013 · Little Record Company)
- First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar (2012 · Wichita Recordings)
- Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band - One of My Kind (2012· Team Love)
- Bright Eyes - The People's Key (2011 · Saddle Creek)
- Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band - Outer South (2009· Merge Records)
- Conor Oberst - Conor Oberst (2008 · Merge Records)
- Bright Eyes - Cassadaga (2007 · Saddle Creek)
- Cursive - Happy Hollow (2006 · Saddle Creek)
- Tilly and the Wall - Bottoms of Barrels (2006 · Team Love)
- Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning (2005 · Saddle Creek)
- Bright Eyes - Digital Ash in a Digital Urn (2005 · Saddle Creek)
- The Faint - Wet From Birth (2004 · Saddle Creek)
- Rilo Kiley - More Adventurous (2004 · Brute/Beaute)
- "Nate Walcott Octet". Retrieved 2014-02-20.
- "Bright Eyes". Retrieved 2014-02-20.
- "Bright Eyes Set For L.A. Philharmonic Concert". Retrieved 2014-02-20.
- "The Fault In Our Stars". Retrieved 2015-01-29.
- "Stuck in Love". Retrieved 2014-02-20.
- "Lovely, Still". Retrieved 2014-02-20.
- "Song One". Retrieved 2015-01-29.
- Nate Walcott
- Bar/None Records
- Team Love Records
- Saddle Creek Records
- Nate Walcott on AllMusic
- Nathaniel Walcott on AllMusic