Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Life is short - be stoked on yours": NORTH

Interview for Hails & Horns Magazine
Kim Kelly

"Life is short - be stoked on yours": NORTH

In a time when the word “NeurIsis” can be tossed off to describe nearly every band that’s coming out right now (that, or “deathcore”), it’s refreshing to see a bunch of dudes who, instead of writing music that aims to emulate a certain sound, came together with the honest intention to play some rock songs. It’s not their fault that somewhere along the way they stumbled across something that many will find familiar, but will also realize is quite a bit more interesting. The soft-loud-soft dynamic - pioneered, revered, then watered down in the space of a few decades - rears its coy head once again here, but yet – something’s not quite right. Something’s different. At first glance, you hear a band steeped in distortion and gently haunting melody, gliding along at an oceanic pace, until the vocals come crashing in – desperate bellows that drag you down to the center of the earth through a tunnel lined with glass. Looking past the distortion, the shimmering peaks and the crushing valleys, and the almighty riffs, you realize - North’s music isn’t boring. Its sludgy, breathy, post-rocking tendencies don’t feel derivative, and it keeps pulling you back, with soft little paws and sly little claws that keep you just spooked enough to come creeping back for more. “North” is a fitting moniker indeed for a band who that keeps looking forward with every chord and every release.

Can you give me some background info on the band, for those who haven't yet heard about you guys? When/where did you form, current lineup, how you all came together, trials & tribulations, past releases etc?

North was originally formed as a 3 piece instrumental band (Ty Engle, Evan Leek, and Zack Hansen). As time went on, and things got a little more serious, we decided to find a 2nd guitarist, and that’s when Matthew Mutterperl joined the team. The 4 of us put out 2 records, Siberia and Ruins. During the writing and demoing of our 3rd release, What You Were, we felt that we needed more tools and people to properly create what we had in mind. Our good friends Kyle Hardy and Pete Ridgeway were more than happy to give North a shot, and things have been working great since.

How have you seen the band develop over the years? What was your goal when you started the band, and how has it changed now, if at all?

Other than the obvious developments that come with playing in a band for as long as we have - I definitely feel that we have a much clearer understanding of what exactly it is we’re trying to do. It’s an unspoken understanding that we’re not necessarily trying to fall into and succeed in a specific genre. Our only real goal is to possibly bring fans from different varieties of musical taste and show them that music doesn’t have to be something specific to be enjoyable.

Is there any special meaning behind the name "North"?

There’s a really uninspiring story as to how the name came about, but like most things we do, we like to leave it up for interpretation.

Tell me about What You Were, your new album on Cavity Records. How did you come up with the concepts behind the songs, and how do you go about writing the songs themselves?

We usually like to write towards a common theme. In the case of What You Were, I suppose we all had some sort of fixation with life and death, and all the ideas surrounding those topics. WYW is more or less the collection of our feelings and interpretations of living and dying.

How did you end up working with Cavity? Do you feel that they're a good fit for you?

Jason White and Dan Phillips contacted us through email one day. They just happened to be fans of what we were doing, and wanted to work with us. They’re really some the coolest guys on the planet. It was a little odd at first – being on a label ran by two guys whom we’ve never met – but that quickly changed. We’re really lucky to be working with people who are true fans of music and everything it encompasses.


What sort of topics do you address in your lyrics? I assume the subject matter is about as dark and emotional as the music it accompanies.

The lyrics on WYW, like I said earlier, deal with our feelings and ideas of living and dying. It would be safe to say everything we do is very intentional.

Who did the recording where, and why did you choose to work with that particular engineer?

WYW was recorded at The Panda Studios in Oakland, CA and Sam Pura was the man behind the magic. Sam had done our previous release, Ruins, in one very rushed day. Even though the schedule wasn’t what we were expecting, he helped us create a record we’re still really proud of. So when it came time to choose someone to work with on an extended basis, Sam was an easy choice. He’s the kind of guy that becomes your best friend in a matter of minutes. We are so stoked to have worked with someone with as much knowledge and natural talent as him.

The “NeurIsis” sound is everywhere, but I feel that North transcends that neat little pigeonhole and has something a lot more interesting going on than your typical “soft-loud-soft” dymanic. It’s undeniable though that bands combining doom/super-heavy music with introspective, complex melodies are really catching peoples’ interest right now, What is it about this music that appeals to you so much, and why do you think more people are finally beginning to realize its merits?

It was never really our intention become a heavy band. Things like our gear-geekiness probably play a bigger role in our overall sound more than being fans of bands we could share a bill with. I think music fans are slowly realizing that there is A LOT of music out there. The radio and TV are only a chunk of what artists have to offer, and since the internet is basically a tool that can get you any music you could ever want to hear, attitudes and tastes are changing. It’s very cool if you ask me.

What is it about heavy music in general that draws you to it? How did you first get into this stuff?

This is always hard for me to answer. Nothing else in my life is loud, intense, interesting, emotionally driving, sonically pleasing, etc. all at the same time. I especially love the physical feeling it can create in a live setting. Music in general is great.

What's next for North after this record is released? Can we expect to see you guys out on the road anytime soon?

We will definitely be all around the country this next year. The most immediate tour coming up is this January with our friends Long Live The Smoking Gun. We’ll be visiting most of the west coast.

The name of the album seems a tad self-explanatory, but is there anything you'd like to say about the songs and the ideas behind them?

Life is short, be stoked on yours.

Any parting words or last thoughts?

Thanks for setting this up! We really appreciate it. Please pick up What You Were and Ruins LP/CD it helps us see more of the road. Thanks, and GO VOTE!

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