Nate Mendel

Nathan Gregor Mendel (born December 2, 1968) is an American musician for the bands Foo Fighters, The Jealous Sound, Sunny Day Real Estate, and The Fire Theft. In 2015, he announced he is the singer, songwriter, and guitarist for his new project, Lieutenant.

Nate Mendel
Mendel playing with the Foo Fighters in Adelaide, 2011
Mendel playing with the Foo Fighters in Adelaide, 2011
Background information
Birth nameNathan Gregor Mendel
Born (1968-12-02) December 2, 1968 (age 52)
Richland, Washington, U.S.
GenresAlternative rock, post-grunge, grunge, hardcore punk, punk rock, indie rock, post-hardcore, emo
Occupation(s)Musician, singer, songwriter
InstrumentsBass, guitar, vocals
Years active1982–present
Associated actsFoo Fighters, Sunny Day Real Estate, Juno, The Fire Theft, The Jealous Sound, Lieutenant, Christ on a Crutch, Brotherhood, Galleons Lap, Diddly Squat

Life and careerEdit

Mendel was born on December 2, 1968, in Richland, a mid-sized city in southeast Washington. His first instrument was the violin. As at the age of 13, Mendel started to get interested in rock music and joining a band,[1] a friend who played guitar suggested him to play the bass.[2] Mendel stated that "as I picked up that bass I went on a 20-year detour into punk", helped by his town usually having concerts of DIY punk bands such as Scream.[3] This led to a "pretty limited musical education", as despite taking some lessons with a bassist from a local band, Mendel mostly taught himself to play, and "it was all hardcore punk rock, like Minor Threat, Black Flag and Bad Brains. Instead of studying the bass playing of someone like John Entwistle, which would have given me a foundation of how to play. I just wanted to play a lot of notes really fast."[2]

Mendel began his musical career in the hardcore band Diddly Squat, which only recorded a 7" single but did a national tour during the 1988 summer vacation. After Diddly Squat ended, Mendel moved to Seattle, where he spent four months on the straight edge band Brotherhood. Afterwards he joined the band Christ on a Crutch, which included bandmate Glen Essary and lasted until 1993. In 1992, Mendel and his University of Washington housemate Dan Hoerner decided to form a band, and invited drummer William Goldsmith to form the group that would end up being named Sunny Day Real Estate.[1] Mendel added that SDRE was an attempt to "play more intricate, interesting music".[2] While Mendel toured Europe with Christ on a Crutch, Jeremy Enigk jammed with the remaining members and eventually became a full-time member of SDRE.[4]

Just prior to Sunny Day Real Estate disbanding in 1995, Mendel and Goldsmith were invited by Dave Grohl to join his band, the Foo Fighters, during the week of Halloween in late October 1994. He has remained a bandmember ever since, being one of the only original members in the Foo Fighters current line-up along with Grohl and former Nirvana live guitarist Pat Smear.[5] Although Sunny Day Real Estate reunited for two more albums (How It Feels to Be Something On and The Rising Tide), he stayed with the Foo Fighters, in Sunny Day Real Estate, he was replaced by Jeff Palmer, and Palmer was replaced by Joey Skyward, when Skyward left the band, Jeremy Enigk (lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and keyboardist) moved to the bass. After Sunny Day Real Estate disbanded once more, he joined with other Sunny Day Real Estate members Jeremy Enigk and William Goldsmith to form The Fire Theft, who released a self-titled album in 2003.[2] In 2001, he played with Juno.

He scored a role in the indie movie Our Burden Is Light, in which he also played a minor role as the main female character's best friend's boyfriend and bassist. In the movie, Mendel plays in a band named Bleeder, consisting of himself, Jessica Ballard, and Taylor Hawkins.

In June 2009, it was confirmed that Sunny Day Real Estate plans to reunite again, with Mendel back in the fold.[6][7] The band toured in 2009, confirming a new album in the works.[8] However, recording sessions proved to be unproductive and by 2013, the group had broken up once again.


Mendel in 2009

Mendel at first considered the bass a melodic instrument, and thus liked to input more personality in his bass parts. Bass Player described Mendel's style in Sunny Day Real Estate as "heavy-handed and fleet-footed, rooted in punk rock but prone to melodic flights that encircled the band's airy arrangements", and Mendel added that in his first years of the Foo Fighters he tried "to make these songs as complicated as I could and put as much bass on there as possible". He eventually changed his priorities to the more traditional bass style where the instrument acts as "the bridge between the melodic element and the percussion", saying that he "alter[ed] the way I play bass so it works in this band, so I can support Dave's songs as best as possible." The priorities he learned to take with his playing was to "play tight and lock better with the drums"[2][9] adding that when Grohl and drummer Taylor Hawkins decide to redo the drum tracks, at times Mendel would have to remake his whole basslines.[10]

Mendel is known to use a pick almost exclusively. His preferred style was alternate picking, but on the fifth Foo Fighters album, In Your Honor, he started to employ downpicking because "with this kind of music, you need the consistency and percussive sound you get from playing with downstrokes." For the acoustic shows, Mendel played fingerstyle.[2]

Nate is rarely seen singing. However he sang backup with Chris Shiflett on Monkey Wrench at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia in 2000 while supporting There Is Nothing Left To Lose. He and Shiflett sang the outro backing vocals ("fall in, fall out"). He is also seen doing backing vocals on "I'll Stick Around" at Bizarre Festival in 2000.[11] Also, he sang backing vocals at Bucknell University in 2000 on "Monkey Wrench".[12]


Mendel's main set-up consists of Fender Precision Basses with GHS strings, played through Ashdown amplifiers.[2] Mendel described the Precision as "iconic" in both its looks and its sound. The bassist's preferred P-Bass is his first, a 1971 model sold to him by the lead singer of Christ on a Crutch which Mendel adapted to be easier to play.[9] Mendel also plays Lakland basses, particularly the Bob Glaub Signature, one of which was employed on the Foo Fighters' seventh album, Wasting Light. He uses a Fulltone Bassdrive pedal, though Mendel downsized the usage of effects pedals as the Foo Fighters rose its number of musicians – "Now that we have three guitar players, there's a lot of distortion going on, so I try to keep it clean and stay in line with the kick drum. That way, I know that even if we're playing a big echoey venue, at least the bass will come across with some bite and precision."[2]

Mendel is seen playing the Lakland Bass in the video for "The Pretender". He used a Gibson Ripper bass in the "Best of You" video and in the "Long Road to Ruin" video he is seen playing a Red Fender Jazz Bass with a black pickguard. He also uses a white and pearloid red Fender Jazz Bass in the "Monkey Wrench" video. He occasionally also plays a Gibson Thunderbird bass.

Mendel uses JHAudio JH16 in Ear Monitors.

Nate Bass Rigs


Fender, Precision, red, 1972 (OG)

Fender, Precision, Nate Mendel Signature Models

Fender, Highway One, white, 2003

Rickenbacker, Maple Glow, 1972

Gibson, The Ripper, 1976, black


Fat Jimmy, Bass Odyssey

Ashdown ABM 900 & BTA 400

1970’s Ampeg SVT


Boss, TU3

Darkglass, Vintage Ultra

Fulltone, Bass Drive (Mosfet)

JHS, 4 Wheeler

Tech 21, VT Bass

Empress, ParaEq


FAMC, Liquid Foot JR+

FAMC, Liquid Router A16

Kemper, Profiler Rack


Audio-Technica, AEW R5200

Audio-Technica, AEW-DA550C

Power Supply

Kikusui, PCR 2000M

Personal lifeEdit


Nate Mendel met Kate Jackson, co-founder of independent public relations firm Grandstand Media, in 2009 while she was director of marketing and publicity at Sub Pop Records and Mendel was touring as part of a reunion of the original lineup of Sub Pop recording artists Sunny Day Real Estate. After dating for several years, Mendel and Jackson married on October 11, 2014, in an intimate and private wedding ceremony in Los Angeles attended by close friends and family including Nate’s Foo Fighters bandmates.[13] On July 19, 2018, Mendel took a one-show leave of absence from the Foo Fighters’ Concrete & Gold tour, with Jane’s Addiction bassist Chris Chaney filling in for him for one night at at the at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, as he chose to be with Jackson as she gave birth to the couple’s twin girls.[14] Mendel has one other child, Noah from a previous marriage.

HIV/AIDS denialEdit

Mendel has expressed fringe views on HIV & AIDS. In January 2000, he organized a sold-out concert in Los Angeles to benefit Alive & Well AIDS Alternatives, an HIV/AIDS denialism group.[15] In April 2000, MTV News reported that "The Foo Fighters have gone on record advocating Alive & Well, an alternative AIDS information group that questions the link between HIV and AIDS."[16] Sandra Thurman, then director of the Office of National AIDS Policy commented:

For the Foo Fighters to be promoting this is extraordinarily irresponsible behavior. There is no doubt about the link between HIV and AIDS in the respected scientific community and it's quite unfortunate that a band reads one book and then adopts this theory. To say [that HIV does not cause AIDS] is akin to saying the world is flat.[17]

Responding to coverage of the Alive & Well benefit in Mother Jones magazine, Mendel wrote,"I am not a medical professional, and I am relatively new to these questions, but I am convinced that those who have tested HIV positive and those sick with AIDS are being done a disservice by not having all the information available to them."[18] The Foo Fighters no longer list Alive & Well as a supported charity on their website as of 2008.[19]


Sunny Day Real EstateEdit

Foo FightersEdit

The Fire TheftEdit

The NightwatchmanEdit



  1. ^ a b Grubbs, Eric (2008). Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore-1985-2007. iUniverse. pp. 71–72. ISBN 978-0595518357.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Fox, Brian (August 4, 2011). "Mendelian Genesis". Bass Player. Archived from the original on December 19, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
  3. ^ "The Quiet One – Nate Mendel: My Story". Metal Hammer Presents...Foo Fighters. 2005.
  4. ^ Grubbs (2008), pp.74–76
  5. ^ Moll, James (director) (2011). Back and Forth (documentary). RCA.
  6. ^ [1] Archived June 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Leor (March 17, 2009). "Sunny Day Real Estate Reunion in 2009? | Perfect Lines". Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  8. ^ "Sub Pop Records". Archived from the original on August 22, 2011. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  9. ^ a b Foo Fighters Nate Mendel on the Fender Precision Bass
  10. ^ Passarelli, Marco (February 2006). "Honor Roll". Bass Player.
  11. ^ "Foo Fighters Monkey Wrench Live". YouTube. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  12. ^ "Foo Fighters – Monkey Wrench (Live in Bucknell University 2000)". Youtube. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
  13. ^ "Foo Fighters' Nate Mendel Marries Longtime Girlfriend Kate Jackson" Published November 10, 2014; Accessed December 8, 2020.
  14. ^ "Watch Jane’s Addiction’s Chris Chaney fill in for Foo Fighters bassist Nate Mendel at recent concert"
  15. ^ Talvi, Silja (February 25, 2000). "Foo Fighters, HIV Deniers". Mother Jones.
  16. ^ Odiaga (April 4, 2000). "Foo Fighters Question Link Between HIV, AIDS". MTV News.
  17. ^ Denizet-Lewis, Benoit (July 2000). "Cause Celeb". Spin. Vol. 16 no. 7. p. 52.
  18. ^ Mendel, Nate (March 10, 2000). "Foo Fighter Fires Back". Letters to the Editor. Mother Jones. Archived from the original on September 9, 2005.
  19. ^ Staff writer (2008). "Causes". Archived from the original on July 5, 2008.