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Interview with Great Northern, Trading Twilight for Daylight

greatnortherntrading.jpgGreat Northern’s debut LP, Trading Twilight for Daylight, drops tomorrow on Eenie Meenie Records. We LOVE the album and count the band’s show at SXSW as one of our favorites.

Great Northern : “The Middle” (mp3)

Perfect Porridge had the opportunity to interview vocalist/guitarist Solon Bixler about the new album, new songs and discover musicians really do read what you crazy kids write about them on your blogs…

Perfect Porridge: Where are you?
Solon Bixler, Great Northern: In L.A. I’m at home drinking coffee and playing the piano.

Your High Noon gig at SXSW was one of our favorite shows this year, even with the sun glaring down on us. Did you guys feel like it went well?
Yeah, that was our favorite show of the festival, actually. It was one of the few times we could hang out and watch some other bands. We played six shows that week and stayed busy in between doing interviews.

Since your album was a few months away at that point, SXSW was a lot of people’s first exposure to Great Northern. What did people think?
I think we got a really good reception, overall. We did play SXSW last year but with different people in the band. It was a completely different experience this year. Every show we played was great.

So the album, Trading Twilight for Daylight, is out in two weeks. The blogosphere is already buzzing, naturally. How have the reviews been?
It’s funny. The other night I got all obsessive and was searching the Web to read reviews, plus the label sends us a selection of reviews. They’ve all been really positive, and we’re really excited.

In a group with so much talent, what’s your writing process like?
Rachel [Stolte, vocalist/pianist] and I wrote all of the songs on the record over the course of the last few years. Then we restructured things – adding drums and bass – and working with our producer Mathias [Schneeberger, [Afghan Whigs]]. Basically, we start with the base of a song at home and then bring it to the band to work out the parts.

Are you writing right now?
We’re always writing. Actually, we’re working on some new stuff right now. I like to come up with something, then play on a new idea and just see what happens.

The new album has a significant range to it. From the haunting “Low is a Height” to the handclapped, distortion-loving “Into the Sun.” You don’t hear that from a lot of bands these days.
“Low is a Height” is my favorite song to play and actually is one of the first songs Rachel and I wrote. The songwriting goes to a lot of different places. We took them and got to experiment and orchestrate a lot of options on that song. It’s not exactly a single, but it’s a lot of people’s favorite song.

You guys didn’t really set out to write radio-friendly singles or keep all songs sounding the same, right?
When we write songs, we don’t really think of them as part of a varied record. We just wrote what we wrote and then put it into an album. The result is not just all loud and heavy guitars or mellow and pretty, either.

It seems like a lot of bands these days pick a genre and work out a shtick under which all songs fall.
I think writing a variety of complex songs not only makes a band or record more pleasing to listen to but also more interesting for me to play. A lot of bands seem to write songs with the same drum beats or tempos. That’s not us.

You’re heading out on tour soon and will be stopping at Minneapolis’ Varsity Theater on June 6. Ever been to Minneapolis?
I’ve been through there but never spent much time checking it out. I like it though. The West Coast is very familiar, so it’s always good to get away.

Like we said, Great Northern play the Varsity Theater on June 6 with The Mary Timony Band.

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