TV show bangs on the drums all night

University alumni help TV sketch ‘Nate on Drums’ go weekly

by Tatum Fjerstad

After waiting outside a conspicuous office building at 9 on a sticky night in Minneapolis’ warehouse district, David Harris, one creative mind behind “Nate on Drums,” Minnesota’s own entertainment TV show, opened the door for me.

Harris punched in a series of codes to use the elevator. We imagined what building could be so important as to need codes just to navigate the elevator.

“Maybe Gov. (Tim) Pawlenty works here or something,” Harris said with a chuckle.

Harris led me into Jagged Edge, a Minneapolis post-production editing studio, where Motion Price (he keeps his identity hidden from the public) and Joe Martin were editing an episode of “Nate on Drums.”

Martin, the show’s editor and producer, has worked at Jagged Edge for five years. After work hours, the “Nate on Drums” staff invades the studio.

That night, Martin and Price, creator, director, writer and actor, sat in a dimly lit room with brick walls and dark paint. They looked at two sets of keyboards and computer screens and edited an episode from the second season of the show.

They worked with animation, scenes of character-driven comedy and a new, local soundtrack.

They mumbled to each other about fluid transitions and cuts and pressed buttons while watching their show take a cohesive form.

David Harris sat behind Price and Martin, peering over Price’s shoulder and watching the clip they were editing. Harris laughed at himself and Price on the tape as they performed now-classic “Nate on Drums” physical humor. I cannot reveal exactly what shenanigans were taped because, like Price’s name, it’s part of the mystery.

“I love that shot,” Harris said.

After watching a few cuts and clips, I settle in with Linnea Mohn, Harris, Price, and Caleb Rick around a tall table with a handsome bowl of candy as a centerpiece.

“Nate on Drums” stars Mohn, Harris and Price, three attractive, Minnesota-born-and-bred twenty-somethings. Harris and Price were roommates while at the University and graduated in 2001. They are also former Minnesota Daily employees. Mohn graduated from Augsburg College.

They began the show in 1997 on public access television and got picked up by KSTC-TV Channel 45 in February 2004. The show aired the first Sunday of the month, and after a successful first season, has been beefed up to weekly episodes on Sunday nights.

“We’re the kids that did the funny videos when we were young,” Harris said.

“Nate on Drums” won the 2004 Minnesota Music Academy’s award for best audio-visual production.

So, we’ve gone through the major introductions. But who’s Nate? Where is he?

In the first season, Nate was, well, playing drums. He also hosted the show. There were hints at the elusive “Nate” leaving the show, and his bio even spoke of his reluctance to be a part of the production.

“He’s still a part of it,” Price said.

“There are no hard feelings; I had breakfast with him last week,” Harris said.

While the cast and crew never expected the show to make it as far as it has, they don’t want to come across as oblivious goofs that are flying by the seat of their pants through each episode, Price said.

“There is a lot of thought that goes into the music and comedy,” Price said.

Along with the fun and success, the show does present challenges, as they each have their own day jobs.

“We don’t have a shortage of ideas, but finding the common time and common resources is our biggest concern,” Harris said.