Hmm. How did we miss this one? Did we miss this one? Was it only I who wasn’t paying attention and missed it? Either way, Arizona’s North has a “new” album out. It’s a wall of crushing, psychedelia-tinged post-Neur-Isis mania entitled The Great Silence, though “new” is a bit of a misnomer as it was actually originally released last year. Whatever. In an industry where people are sacrificing their first born for decent first week sales numbers, we’re sure a little promotional nod a few months after the fact won’t hurt. I’ve always said, what would you rather have? A shitload of sales right out of the gate, then being forgotten by most of the public a few weeks later, or a consistent handful of smaller weekly sales over the course of a longer period of time? While you mull that over, here’s an interview with guitarist Matt Mutterperl.
How did North come to be? And how does a band from Arizona come to use the moniker North anyway?
[Bassist] Evan [Leek], [drummer] Zack [Hansen], and our previous guitarist Ty had been in previous musical endeavors for a little while. After their previous band dissolved, Evan “formally” asked to start a new band, to which Zack agreed only if he could drop-kick Evan in the stomach. Evan actually did get drop-kicked in the stomach, who repeatedly stresses that it did not hurt, and they were off in a new direction. Seriously. I was invited to practice one day since I had known Ty through a mutual friend, and had showed him some of my own riffs, and that was that. The three of them had already demoed some material, which I don’t believe I have anymore. It’s floating around the internet somewhere, I think. Our name? From the 1994 movie of the same name starring Elijah Wood. I’m fond of it because it’s simple, not offensive, and not awkward to say: contrast “North” with a canonical example like “Anal Cunt.”
I notice at one point, on your bandcamp page for What You Were it reads “North was…” Was there a break up in there somewhere?
Not a break-up, although we have lost some members. I feel like “North was” is the most accurate way to say it, but it doesn’t matter much.
What was the original goal/philosophy behind the band when you started and how has that changed since?
There wasn’t any kind of specific aim other than to make loud, heavy music, and I think we’ve stayed true to that even if we’re the only ones that may think so. Every time we set out to write, there’s always a new theme/pattern/riff/idea that we explore, regardless of where it goes. As five people who are genuinely interested and invested in making music, we do our best to stay motivated and improve ourselves. That’s also something that hasn’t changed in the last 7+ years.
How long was The Great Silence in the works in terms of how long it took to write and record?
That was in the works for about four years. “Pulse,” “Patience,” and “Paradox” were the first songs we wrote way back in 2008/2009, only they were all played together in a piece originally titled something transparent like “Megasong.” The last song we wrote was “Origins” in 2011. Recording only took about week.
Was there anything you were consciously or deliberately trying to do different on the new album from past recordings? How would you characterise The Great Silence in comparison to your other releases?
We always try to do something different on every album, whether it ends up being subtle or not so subtle. I think that’s a shared goal for most bands, but for us it’s been stark in some areas; our first two records were instrumental, for example. On What You Were, we had a dedicated keyboardist and it was our first album with a vocalist. For The Great Silence, we were at a point where the future of North seemed questionable, so there was more of an emphasis to “leave it all out on the field,” to quote high school football coaches everywhere. Thankfully now, we’re inspired enough to not suffer through that kind of low morale. Happens to all of us, it’s just in how you manage it.
How does North on record compare to North live?
I wouldn’t say there’s a real marked difference. We may or may not be much louder than the volume you play our records at, but trust and believe we’re always trying to be. We don’t try and get too improvisational live, although that element is subtly there if we’re feeling daring.
How much touring have you done since the latest album’s release? Any dumb/awesome/horrifying tour stories to share?
We toured through the south, both coasts, and some of the mid-west, which added up to about six weeks of touring. The worst situation was at the end of our August tour when our van’s rear end, which had been spitting oil for a while now, was deemed unsafe to drive. Kyle and Evan had to stay back in Salt Lake City, and then drive the van from there back to Tucson. The rest of us had school or work and had to fly home. The Midas we were at was exceptionally accommodating and donated $1000+ in parts, however. Some of the most awesome situations were camping at Emigrant Lake in Oregon the night of a meteor shower, playing an outdoor block party, and on a personal note, getting to see all the people that we never get to for reasons related to distance.
Do you have any new material in the works? What’s up in your immediate future?
We’re currently working on new material for an EP or split, whichever materializes first. We’re trying to get louder, gloomier, and more precise, like sharpening the edge of some kind of a sad, sludgy knife. Opinions vary. This summer we’re planning on doing some touring mostly around the west side of the country, and hopefully putting out a new something-or-other for everyone to hear.