Maps of Norway calls it quits


Maps of Norway, courtesy of Greg Schaal

After several years as an active and edifying part of the local music community, after peppering our record collections with a pair of outstanding full lengths, and after entrancing us for so many Big V's Saturdays, the ethereal rock quintet Maps of Norway have decided to pack it up.

Bassist Matt Helgeson spoke with Gimme Noise about knowing when to walk away, the virtue of precision and punctuality, and the joys of being a part of it all.

Why the decision to call it quits now, so hot on the heals of your well received Die Off Songbird?

I think everyone has their own reasons and feelings to an extent. For me, I think the real reasons bands break-up is when you're satisfied with something. After our first record "Sister Stations," I remember feeling very anxious to go back in to the studio and do another one. I felt like we were already writing better, more refined songs. Also, there we a lot of production things I would have done differently with that record. With "Die Off Songbird," it felt different. In a lot of ways it felt like the culmination of how the band had evolved. I'm not entirely sure the next record would have been better.

But, also, there's just a lot of life factors that go into it. People start wanting to do different things in life, maybe get a little sick of not getting home until 4AM after a show. Overall, there's been a general unspoken sense that things were winding down after the record came out. But at the same time, I'm very proud to have been in this band and I feel like we accomplished way more than we could have hoped for when we began. The Twin Cities have been very kind to us, and to have people that you respect and like react positively to your music means a whole lot more to me than anything else.

After 4 years of solid activity, what are you proudest of?

Personally, I always took pride in the fact that we were a tight live band. Some shows were better than others, but I've always sort of hated the old Replacements "legendary" stories about how drunk they were and how awesome it was to see them stumble around. I've always felt like you should show up and play everything the right way -- not that you can't stretch things out or experiment, but doing it in a thoughtful way, not rock n' roll antics. Or at least I expect drunk rock bands to be able to rock.

Other than that, I'm proud of the records. Making a record is the greatest thing in the world to me, I love recording and you get so few chances in life to do something that you're happy with.

What's your favorite show you played?

We've been very fortunate to having been playing music in Minneapolis at a time when there were so many great bands, and looking back I'm very happy that we got a chance to play with most of them at one point.

Our last CD release show was great, because we headlined the Turf Club on a weekend and it was fairly packed, we sold over 40 CDs. It sort of felt like we had made some progress. Another show I really loved, even though it was very poorly attended ,was playing a show at the Ritz Theater in Northeast for part of the Redukt series of shows. They had really great projection screen movies playing behind the bands, and I thought the presentation of the whole thing was amazing -- it felt more like art than a rock show.


Overall, we've had a lot of fun. We're very grateful for the support we've received here over the years.

How should your headstone read?

"Maps of Norway: They Always Showed Up On Time, Possibly Goth"

Maps of Norway will play their final show on Saturday, April 4th at the Turf Club in Saint Paul.