Chiefs of the North: We don't have to think -- we can just rock
Photo by Nate Geslin
Chiefs of the North | The Cabooze | Friday, August 8
Minneapolis band Chiefs of the North have taken a step out of the garage to a real studio on their latest album, Reach. With the help of Ed Ackerson, the group polished up their sound that connects the dots between muscular blues, roots rock, and the classics. Don't be afraid to turn it up to 11 when you have Reach on your speakers.
Gimme Noise caught up with the band before their album release at the Cabooze on Friday night to chat about Canadian Mounties and how the changing of a band member can shift the dynamics of a band.
Band Members: Tony Metcalf (vocals, guitar), Justy Collins (guitar), Chris Brown (keys, guitar, vocals), Erik Christenson (bass, vocals), Tom Busch (drums)
Gimme Noise: All of your album titles hint at different legs of a journey. Why name them so?
Tony Metcalf: Justy said a Canadian Mountaineer came to him in a dream and told him to name our first EP Tributaries. So we did!
Chris Brown: Then with Remember When, we wanted to make a nostalgic record with a '70s/'90s feel. We took the title from the first song on the record.
Tony Metcalf: The title Reach comes from my lyrics in the song "Wheels." "Reach or fail/but I gotta reach" -- those lyrics sort of sum up our direction making this album. We work really hard, and believe in the band; we wanted this album be reflective of our ambitions.
How do you feel you guys have evolved since the release of the last album?
Chris Brown: Growing together is our best evolution for sure. We keep getting more comfortable and aware of each others' artistic sensibilities. We've learned a lot about communicating what someone wants out of a song.
Tony Metcalf: We have also evolved as live band by upping our practices to three days a week, and now know each other so well that we don't have to think about what we're doing as much -- we can just rock.
Tom Busch: I feel that I've gone more straightforward, instead of trying to be weird; less is more. On this record, in particular, I had a lot more songwriting ideas, and that was fun for me. The band has become more of a cohesive songwriting machine, taking more time writing songs and talking through them more, being more meticulous and thoughtful. We've been careful not to use song structures and cues that we've done in the past.
People often forget that a new member can change the dynamics of a band. What do you think Erik Christenson brought to the group?
Erik Christenson: A needle-full of awesome, injected straight into the band's aorta, but seriously, Tom Laing left some big shoes to fill. I think the vocal harmonies have been the biggest change in the band's color with me added. Also, people seem to like my glasses.
Justy Collins: Erik has brought a melodic foundation to the riffs. He makes everything nice and fluid.
Tony Metcalf: The vocal harmonies are an aspect the band has never indulged in before, and I like the direction it's gone.
Tom Busch: Not being good at all... Erik brings a side to the band that we never had before, different musical influences. As a songwriter, he thinks about music a bit differently than we did before.
"Look Like Sin" was a standout track for me. Can you tell me the origins of that song?
Chris Brown: Tony wrote the main guts of this song on his acoustic at home. When he brought it to the band, it came together pretty smooth and quickly. Then in the studio, it got really polished, and we zipped up all the seams -- so to speak.
Tony Metcalf: To me it's about wanting to be bad, not listening to the rules. Taking a vacation in your own life, but at the same time, hurting somebody, whether it's friends, or family. But there's always growing up to do.
Are there any standout tracks for you guys?
Erik Christenson: "Where's Your Money" is my favorite. I think that really turned out to be a truly good rock song. I'm very happy with the whole album, but especially proud of how that one turned out.
Tom Busch: "Wheels." It's just a good true rock song, we took our time crafting that song, to make it its own, turning it into as big of a song as it is, because it's really big.
Justy Collins: "Look Like Sin" was cool, with the dueling solos, Ed dragged a lot out of me, I really had to work for that one.
How did you meet Ed Ackerson, and how do you think he shaped the new album?
Chris Brown: Our friends, Ghost Towns of the West, have recorded with Ed a few times. We were impressed with the sound of their recordings, so he was definitely on our minds when we were picking a studio and producer to work with.
Tony Metcalf: One of the things Ed said to us when we first met him was, "I record rock albums." That excited me! He also provided a professional atmosphere for us to work in -- something this band desperately needed.
Justy Collins: He helped make the record better for the listener, not just us, the musicians.
Tom Busch: So many ways, he gave enough insight to direct us, without telling us what to do. We came in with so many ideas, and he helped us orchestrate them all together.
What can we expect to see at the album release show?
Justy Collins: High energy, polished, creative rock. Like all of our shows, we hope people walk away excited to hear us again.
Erik Christenson: We're super happy with the lineup we were able to get for the show. Vonnie Kyle, the Jelly Project, and American Youth. It's going to be a really fun night.
Tom Busch: A band that's ready to f***in' tear this town apart. This record is more "us" than anytime before. We haven't played a sweet gig in Minneapolis in a while, so we're ready to let loose. There's been a lot of hard work put into this album, and it's all going to get unleashed at this show.
Chiefs of the North will release Reach at the Cabooze on Friday, August 8, with American Youth, the Jelly Project, and Vonnie Kyle.
18+, $6 adv, $8 door, 8:30 pm
Purchase tickets here.
GIMME NOISE'S GREATEST HITS
53 things you might not know about Prince
73 things you might not know about Bob Dylan
Brother Ali: My fans are kicking the sh*t out of me over Trayvon Martin
Here's why we didn't sign the Foo Fighters photo waiver
Top 20 best Minnesota musicians: The complete list
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.