The riddle of Nathaniel is whether it is his music or his resolute spirit that gets him through such things as the childhood diagnosis of Muscular Dystrophy, which taught him to live beyond the pain, fatigue and weakness of his disease, to the lung cancer he survived in 2016. Music and the abiding need to create it, paired with his stubborn will to thrive in dire circumstances work symbiotically to keep both the man and his music moving ahead.
Nathaniel’s voice cuts through the music with a natural quality and sensual darkness. He carved his sound from an intricate plethora of styles and influences, creating songs that are melodic and catchy without the music feeling forced.
“The songs lead me to where they want to go. I’m really just a slave to the music.”
In May, 1977, Nathaniel Roland Wycoff was born into a musical family; his late father was a brilliant guitar player and his mother, a beautiful singer.
After his father passed in 1990, he soon reached for a guitar, and by 1994 he was writing and performing songs live with a group of friends that would soon become the band Captain i. They had a tight and punchy rock sound and played many shows around the Minneapolis/St. Paul and Western Wisconsin areas. They released their only album, Sooner Than Now, in the summer of 2000. By 2003 the band members had moved on to other pursuits, though they remained very close friends.
Nathaniel never stopped writing, releasing music under the name Dogshow following the Captain I years. While the music was mostly instrumental and definitely on the conceptual side, his sensibility in songwriting was growing, as was his ability to mix and record the music by himself.
Still working on his music on the side, he joined a couple of cover bands in 2005 and was gigging heavily for the next several years. His Radiohead and U2 tribute bands were well received, even appearing on the cover of Minneapolis’ City Pages as “The World’s Most Ambitious Cover Band.”
Unfortunately, tragedy was just around the corner. In 2011, he lost his good friend and former singer/drummer of Captain i, Jason “Ozzie” Oswald. Then, in 2012, when his Muscular Dystrophy was slowing him down significantly, he made the difficult decision to retire from playing live.
He had been on prescribed pain killers since 2002 and after some struggles with depression and anger, he chose to stop taking the pain medication in 2014. His mood and quality of life improved and his creativity was infused with new life, as well.
In the midst of working on writing new songs and covering some of his favorite material, the lung cancer diagnosis in 2016 came as a shock, but he didn’t succumb to despair. After a double lobectomy he made a full recovery and started working on new music immediately. Later that fall he released the instrumental album “Prairie Dogs Have Plague” under his nickname “Nater.”
That next spring, Nathaniel opened Bailey Park Studio, in Baldwin, Wisconsin, where he would write and record the album “Phoenix of Tragedy”. The title song speaks to the pain and struggles he faced and his rising up to overcome them. This album has been described as “fearless” and “if Pink Floyd and Johnny Cash had a baby.”
Nathaniel is currently promoting “Phoenix of Tragedy” and producing/recording other artists in his recording studio an hour east of Minneapolis. He lives on a small farm in Wisconsin near his studio and is happily married to the woman who inspired the song “Just a Kiss” and many others.