Interview with The Northstar Session: What it’s like in the shadows of Breakfast in America

Dec. 11, 2010

So, before I take you back to 1978, or 1979 (I forget which), I need to remind you to go see The Northstar Session on Dec. 17, (that’s this year, 2010) at Double Mountain. This should be a good show, and I hope to see you there.

I’m sure, that no matter what the era, parents have always wondered what the heck kids are listening to — and this instance for me may have been my first parental musical inquisition.

When I brought home this particular record, my mom looked at the cover, and said something to the effect of “Now what the heck are you listening to?”

I just couldn’t understand it. All that was on the cover was a picture of a smiling waitress posing as the Statue of Liberty, with various egg and milk cartons arranged in the shape of New York City.

Now, here I am, some 30 years later, interviewing some guys who just recorded in the SAME STUDIO that album was recorded in.

So, guys, I totally understand if you break into a 15-minute jam of Supertramp’s “Take the Long Way Home.” :)

Interview with The Northstar Session

1. Please give us a bit on your musical backgrounds and how did The Northstar Session happen? Was Northstar the name of a studio?

Matt and Kane met at a recording session in LA and discussed writing together once Matt moved up to LA (he was still living in San Diego at the time). Once Matt moved to LA, they started writing together and quickly began recording their first EP (To Be Continued...) which was the first collection of songs they wrote together.

While they were working on the EP they started looking around for a keyboardist to record on the songs. Matt met Dave at a show who was playing with a mutual friend and was quickly enlisted to play on the EP. Once the EP was done the band pretty much fell into place and the trio of Matt, Kane and Dave has been the lineup for The Northstar Session along with a LONG list of ever-revolving bass players!

The Northstar Session was a name that Matt had been using while performing down in San Diego looking for a band lineup. Once he moved up to LA both Kane and Matt decided to keep the name which was inspired from a song by The Black Crowes called "Non-Fiction."

2. You mention that you guys played Hood River over the summer, and hopefully it led to you wanting to come back. What can Hood River expect to see this time around?

Another really fun show! We had such an amazing time in August when we played at Double Mountain Brewery, the staff there is wonderful and took really good care of us. As soon as we knew the dates of this December tour we contacted them immediately to set up another show. We couldn't have enjoyed our time in Hood River more last time we were here.

As for this show, we'll most likely throw in a few of the songs that will be on the upcoming album due out late January/early February.

3. Describe what it's like for a band to have to play on a TV show. (Studio/stage can be nerve- racking enough!)

To be honest it felt just like playing a concert and came pretty easy. The environment was pretty relaxed which was nice. We're really thankful for that kind of exposure from a hit NBC show (Parenthood). We actually did the scene in a real recording studio, not a sound stage which was also another great honor. NBC had us go to a really famous recording studio on West LA called The Village Recorders, which was the studio where Steely Dan recorded all of their albums in the ’70s, Supertramp recorded Breakfast In America, along with TONS of other albums.

They had us do the scene in Studio D which was the room specifically built for Fleetwood Mac in the ’70s for their album Tusk, and the REALLY cool thing about Studio D is that it was most recently used to record the new album by Elton John & Leon Russell called The Union. Studio D is the room of choice for producer T-Bone Burnett when he records in LA. Needless to say, this room had TONS of mojo and was amazing to record our song “You Come Up Like A Rose” live so NBC could use it for our scene in Parenthood. We felt really thankful to have had the opportunity to record and film in that room!

4. Are TNS songs written by one person or is it collaborative?

Most of the songs are written by Matt and Kane. A handful of tunes have been written by Matt, Kane and Dave. Aside from this, each member has contributed a few songs individually as well.

5. What music artists does the band listen to (who's on your iPod)?

We pretty much try to have a good balance of the old with the new. You can pretty much count on a Tom Petty album (or two) in the mix! The past few tours we've had older stuff from Neil Young, Elton John, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Elvis Costello and have also been enjoying the latest albums from Kings Of Leon, Band Of Horses, Arcade Fire and Sheryl Crow (which is a great nod to the old Stax sound). We always try to have good songs playing to help us stay awake for the long drives!

6. Your myspace page has something called TNS Pledge.

Yeah, Pledge Music is a site designed for fans to get involved with the "album process" for their favorite band/artist. We were referred to them from a friend who had used the site to fund an album. This process has been amazing, without throwing out any numbers, we can just say that through our Pledge Music site we've pretty much raised all the money needed for our album.

Aside from raising money for our album we also partnered up with a charity called City Of Hope which is a cancer treatment/ research hospital and gave them a portion of what we raised. With the current state of the music industry, this site it really great because it once again puts the power into the hands of "the listener" where they can truly decide what kind of music they want to hear. This concept even goes back to the days of composers like Mozart and Beethoven when they were commissioned to write a piece.

We set up our page like a pledge drive you would see from a public radio station where we have a bunch of different "incentives" for fans to make a pledge towards. These spanned from house concerts to the band cooking dinner for you! It was great because a lot of fans came out and made some really big pledges which felt pretty rewarding and let us know that the music we're making is having an effect on people.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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