Fortissimo—Nate Utesch Speaks

I’m sitting across from Bradley Thachuk (associate conductor at the FW Phil and conductor/arranger of all things tremendous in Fortissimo) at Fort Wayne’s favorite English football pub (one might argue it’s actually an Irish Pub, but I have yet to take advantage of that side of its accommodations)—we had just watched Real Madrid beat Barcelona 1-0 in the Copa del Rey tournament—and he turns to me and says, “So…can Metavari sightread?” Half pretending my mouth is still full of medium-well ground beef, seared to perfection, I didn’t answer. “Nate, do you guys read music?”

Oh Lord, this is going to be quite an experience.

Not only can we not read music. We don’t write out or notate any of our music. On a good day, we play it exactly the same twice. And everything is synced to laptop programming. When we write, it’s a massive spill of emotion in a noisy basement. We’re lucky if we get a shard of salvageable material because most evenings we’d rather stare at each other’s faces and talk shop.

I think I said, “I can tell you where a C is if you give me a second.”

Metavari has spent about a half decade staring at each others fingers and taking pictures of chord positions so we don’t forget them. Fortissimo will stretch us to play in stricter parameters than we ever have. And we’re excited to see how close we can come to messing that up.

In the Fall of 2006, a couple of my best buds and I started making music in my basement. It was an exercise in combining laptop programming with a bunch of old instruments we had collected over the years. No vocals. No drums. Just melody, experimentation and electronics. But by the time the snow melted, we had turned into a full-fledged band with a full-fledged ambiguous band name. Metavari. Drums, bass, guitar, keys, programming…and live visuals. We cobble together found moving pictures from online sources and old recordings and sync ’em up along side interactive elements during our live show—doubles as a distraction to keep the audience from looking at us while we’re playing. We’ll be editing live visuals for our performance with the Philharmonic custom for Fortissimo. And pending a response from a regional filmmaker, these visuals might actually be really extraordinary.


In the context of our small worlds, Metavari has been such an incredible ride the last few years (prepare yourself while I sling proud factoids…feel free to skip to the last paragraph. It won’t affect the read). In 2009 we signed to two record labels—Crossroads of America Records in the US and Friend of Mine Records in Japan. We released our debut full-length album, “Be One of Us and Hear No Noise” and an extended version for distribution in Japan. I think we’re up to 6 tours now, from short stints in the Midwest, to several week jaunts across the US and Canada. In 2010 were lucky enough to have been able to showcase at the South by Southwest music conference in Austin, TX and sold out our first show ever in Montreal. We’re currently writing for a forthcoming record for release in 2012 and another US tour in September.


The most beautiful part of being in a band is the deep friendship that it inadvertently creates. We’re constantly cooped up with each other. We fight. We laugh. We drink till we can’t bike home safely. There are seasons where we see each other more than we see our loved ones (one could argue we actually see each other naked more than we see our loved ones). To be able to take part in a collaboration like Fortissimo with people like Bradley Thachuk and the Philharmonic is truly special. We hope that Fortissimo is an organic evening full of surprises and mistakes and gorgeous moments that fill the room with a sense that what is happening is unlike anything that’s happened in Fort Wayne. And makes us proud to be here.