Life has a funny way of leading you to people who inspire you to create. That was certainly the case when Jacob Mullis and Amy Hager of Fort Wilson Riot and Pornonono met Nick Thompson last spring.
With the help of Thompson's label, Blood of the Young, the two bands produced a 12-inch vinyl split release. It's a terrifically coiling dual EP that boasts blissful, breezy pop on the FWR side (City of Eyes), while Pornonono's half (YES) contains smart, throwback soft rock with youth and melody all stirred in.
Friday's release party at 7th St. Entry will be a celebration of music, but it will also be a bittersweet opportunity to celebrate the life and work of Thompson, who died suddenly on June 4. An official memorial concert is planned for next week at First Avenue.
Ahead of Friday's show, Mullis shared his thoughts on Thompson and how the new EP came to be.
City Pages: How did the idea for a split 12-inch EP come about?
Jacob Mullis: Back in April of 2015 Fort Wilson Riot digitally released two new singles, “Tryin” and “Easy Way." After releasing those tracks, we were contacted by our friend Dan Hoffstrom, from Blood of the Young Records, who informed us that he had played the tunes for the head of the label, Nick Thompson. Nick loved the songs, and they were interested in releasing them on vinyl.
We met up with Dan a couple days later and he introduced us to this wonderful human being [Nick] who had so much enthusiasm and passion about making records that it was totally infectious. He was so excited about the songs that he wanted to just go ahead and release the two songs as a 12-inch single. But we were in the process of working on more recordings, so we suggested we could turn it into an EP. He loved the idea.
We also happened to be finishing up some songs for Pornonono at the time and there seemed to be an interesting juxtaposition between the two collections of songs. We pitched the idea of turning the record into a full-length with an EP from each band on either side. After coming to see a Pornonono show, Nick was all in for the idea.
We can’t express enough how excited we are with how the EPs turned out individually, and how they work together as a full record. We can say, without a doubt, that if it wasn’t for Nick’s enthusiasm and energy, we wouldn’t have been inspired to put this record together.
This vinyl would not have existed in the world if it wasn’t for him. He passed away suddenly a couple weeks ago and we are still reeling and so incredibly sad that he is gone. It is hard believe he won’t be here to celebrate the release of this record that he was so instrumental in making.
CP: Besides more band members for Pornonono, how do the projects differ?
JM: Amy and I are pretty much the sole songwriters for FWR, with some very crucial flavor added by the band in the finished product. Most of the Pornonono songs are built off instrumental tracks made by Aaron Baum.
With Fort Wilson Riot, it typically starts with mine and Amy's interplay as songwriters. We bounce ideas off each other with guitar, keyboard, or by making beats on the computer. They take shape that way until they are developed enough to play with the band, and then the band members add some delicious colors to them.
For Pornonono, Aaron is always making incredible beats on Ableton. When he’s got a bunch that he’s excited about, he’ll share them with me and Amy. Then we’ll all hang out and toss around ideas for melodies and lyrics. Once we’ve got the tunes in good shape, we’ll share them with the band and get them ready to play live.
CP: Tell me about the lead tracks "Frontline" and "How Do We Go"?
JM: “Frontline” was actually one of the first songs that Pornonono made. The band initially started because Aaron and I wanted to start tinkering with some songs together. “Frontline” was the first beat that Aaron proposed as a candidate, and we pretty much finished it off in one night.
“How Do We Go” came about as my first attempt at writing a song specifically for Amy to sing. I came up with the basic chord progression and melody, and then we finished it off together. Thematically, we kind of play as two sides of the same coin. With “Frontline” being a depiction of a more physical yearning for love and acceptance, and “How Do We Go” being a more philosophical questioning of how one approaches the messiness of love.
CP: What was the goal with this album release? Anything else in the works?
JM: The goal, initially, was to put out a fun, unique record that would be a special experience for people. Since Nick passed away, the goal of the release is to celebrate him and all the love and energy he brought to the local music scene. Both bands have a bunch of new music in the works.
CP: What are you excited to share at the album release show?
JM: There will definitely be some fun treats. Some new tunes people haven’t heard and other assorted goodies.
Fort Wilson Riot and Pornono
With: Holidae and Alex Rice.
When: 8 p.m. Fri., July 1.
Where: 7th St. Entry.
Tickets: $10-$12 door; more info here.