With a stylistically varied pedigree of musicians, who would have thought that five kids from the West Coast's hardcore capital would be able to channel Coldplay and Death Cab, and so effortlessly at that?
Consisting of drummer Aaron Flora, guitarist Jonathan Garcia, bassist Mike Macgregor, keyboardist Phil Nisco and vocalist Jeff Perez, “We're a very young band and we haven't really played that much,” Flora says modestly. After hearing his band's signature prog-coustic stylings, however, listeners might understandably believe otherwise. And as the aforementioned former member of Throwdown and Hellogoodbye, he knows a few things about learning what works by trial and error.
While moving away from previous associations and current scene trends would help the band distinguish itself, it provided its own set of problems. In a scene dominated by bands starkly contrasting Northern's sound, moving against the grain would require the band to really step up its game if it wants to make it.
“You've got to take a different route. It's a bit more professional. You have to make sure you sound good and everything's real tight. You have to take it seriously,” Flora says on being a rare breed of mellow-melodic band in Orange County.
Ever the seasoned pros, the members of Northern know the best way to win over new listeners is by plucking at their heartstrings (without being cliché).
“Our live show has a lot of emotion because of how passionate and how into it we are. We put a lot into our songs, whether it's joy or heartbreak or whatever,” says Flora. “It brings you up and down like a roller coaster, but we always end it on a good note. It's very personal.”
Keenly aware of its potential to connect with listeners and the power it holds because of that, Northern is set on leaving a positive impression. “Music is the only thing that can reveal emotions in you like that. I think we've all come to the point where we can take how we feel and put it to music, and give people the key to unlock their emotions,” says Flora.
When so many mainstream artists believe a life of debauchery and indulgence are the pillars rock is built upon, Northern is content to live a quieter existence if it means having an affect on someone for the better.
“There's people that view it as a job, and do it for the money or to be cool, but it's when you play alone in your room and you're loving it,” Flora says of what it really means to be a musician. “We play because it's the gift we've been given, so we can give that gift to other people to enjoy.”
Maybe they are young, and how experienced they are is debateable, but ages and musical resumes prove inconsequential after listening to all that these five SoCal boys have become. How best to describe them to others then? As Flora so aptly says, “We're just a bunch of kids stoked on what we're doing.”
All this coming from a man who confesses his biggest guilty pleasure is rocking an Avril Lavigne album on occasion, when not blasting Tool, that is.
Who would have thought?
Northern will perform May 23 at the Key Club, in West Hollywood and May 27 at Spaceland, in Silverlake. For more information, visit www.listentonorthern.com .