Friday, April 14, 2006

Mini-Interview: Great Northern

For fans of director David Lynch, the name “Great Northern” likely brings to mind thoughts of a sturdy, old backwoods hotel, a slice of cherry pie and "a damn fine cup of coffee," and the immortal words that began the melancholy, early 90s TV series Twin Peaks, "She’s dead. Wrapped in plastic..."

Great Northern vocalist/pianist Rachel Stolte suggests that the words also evoke images of "vast, open, far off places, where you wear big warm jackets to keep you safe."

But us? We tend to think of a combination of dusky dual male and female vocals and playful use of keyboards, all draped over a solid, well-built foundation of guitar, bass, and drums.

Admittedly, that’s probably because we’ve recently seen Great Northern play live here in LA, have been listening to their five-song EP, and decided to check in with Stolte to find out more about the band and where they’re headed.

So... hi. Let’s get all the basics out of the way first. Who would you say are the band's influences? What are you out to accomplish, musically? (Sorry, that’s the worst question ever...)

Basically, [we’re] massively eclectic! [We have] so many influences, really. We tend to draw on the old stuff though. Classics like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Blur, ELO, and Barry Manilow... (Just kidding.) But really anyone who inspires you to write better, like PJ Harvey and Elliot Smith.

I guess musically we would like to accomplish a lot... To keep getting better and writing and evolving... To have our sound be consistent, yet grow and change and evolve...

How did the band start up?

The band started by [guitarist/vocalist Solon Bixler] giving me a bunch of tapes on 4-track and saying, “Hey, do you want to sing on these and make up some piano stuff?”

We talked about doing music together for a long time, and then he gave me the tapes and I loved all of it. From there, we would each record separately and pass the tapes back and forth from 4-track to 4-track.

It wasn't until about eight months later that we actually got in the studio together for the first time. And we've been going ever since. That was about three years ago and we put the band together about a year ago.

How would you describe The Ship collective that you guys are a part of?

The Ship collective is a bunch of people who all play music and who all are friends. [It’s] like a support system for your habit. Which happens to be music.

So, members of the band are or were in fellow Ship act Earlimart. How is that, exactly?

Davey, who is our bass player extraordinaire, used to drum for Earlimart, but is no longer in Earlimart. And Ariana, who is our keyboard genius, still plays in Earlimart.

We’re lucky. They rule.

And we have Ed as our drummer and he was never in Earlimart, but he rules, too.

What’s next for you, show-wise? Any residencies planned?

We play with Ladytron at The El Rey on May 2nd and then again with them on May 3rd in Pomona at The Glass House. We have some other shows in the works. Possibly the 23rd at The Silver Lake Lounge and the 30th in the LBC.

You have the EP out. Is a full album currently in the works?

The EP was something we wanted to put out as a tool to get us to the next step. We have a lot of songs and a lot are already recorded, but we really wanted to get some help and someone behind us – A label or some super wealthy person who gives us millions... Ha, ha... – to get some momentum.

We’ll probably put out a full-length next year, but in the meantime this we'll have the EP.

Okay, last question. Who are some of your favorite bands in LA right now?

Well, I never really know if they are from LA or not, but favorite bands... Spoon, PJ Harvey... Just saw Band of Horses [and] thought they ruled. Radar Bros. are pretty great. Still love Elliot Smith... Wish he was still here... and love The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

That's it. Thanks for your time, Rachel.

Great Northern are opening up for Ladytron on Tuesday, May 2nd at The El Rey Theatre, which is located at 5515 Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles.


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