By David Menconi
In the universe of Triangle musicians, Nathan Golub stays busy as one of the leading local pedal-steel guitarists – and if you go hear an Americana-leaning act in a club around here, chances are good you’ll see him onstage. Golub’s steadiest main gig nowadays is backing up country singer John Howie, Jr., but his resume is wide-ranging. He has also played and recorded with acts including Mandolin Orange, Jake Xerxes Fussell, Kamara Thomas, Michael Rank, Spider Bags and Katharine Whalen’s post-Squirrel Nut Zippers band The Fascinators.
But Golub’s contributions go beyond sound to visuals, too. As the in-house graphic designer for Yep Roc Records, the Grammy-winning label based in Hillsborough, Golub more than anyone else is responsible for Yep Roc’s look, feel and visual vibe.
After a decade in a similar role at Indyweek and a year or so in the full-time-parent trenches, Golub came to Yep Roc in 2014. He works out of a small ground-floor office in Yep Roc’s building on Hillsborough’s Churton Street main drag, using both computers as well as old-fashioned painting and drawing materials.
Golub’s responsibilities encompass pretty much anything you can look at. Most prominently, that includes album-cover and overall package design for Yep Roc’s releases, from local stars like Mandolin Orange (who recently became the label’s top-selling act) to Texas country-soul godfather Alejandro Escovedo, Nashville surf-rock band Los Straitjackets and other national acts.
He’s also responsible for logos, advertising and even some aspects of Yep Roc’s videos, like drawing the cartoon illustrations in the California power-pop band The Rubinos’ “Honey From the Honeycombs” video. You can see a bit of Golub at work in “Trombone,” the latest video by legendary British pub-rock icon Nick Lowe, doing a time-lapse sketch of the record cover.
“I do the whole package for albums, front and back and whatever’s inside,” Golub says. “Sometimes I’ll do paintings for covers, too. And I do all the visual stuff for ads and logos. Some artists have very clear ideas what they want and I try to accommodate that. When you’re creating an album cover, there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s just what the artist thinks is most appropriate. From the musician’s side, I know how important it is when you’re putting something you have to live with, how it’s received.”