On an On: We're not afraid to do anything

On an On: We're not afraid to do anything
Photo by Kyle La Mere

After moving back and forth between Minneapolis and Chicago, Brainerd-bred Nate Eisland is relieved to return to his home state. Recently, his band On an On rose from the ashes of now-defunct Scattered Trees. Since then, he, Alissa Ricci, and Ryne Estwing have received a burst of attention during their recent tour. Although they've just relocated, On an On and their elecronically enhanced indie rock sound is already receiving a warm welcome back into the Minnesota music scene.

City Pages sat down with Eiseland two days after his return from touring. After he hit up his first Twins game of the year and ahead of Saturday's Basilica performance, he couldn't stop gushing about his love for Minneapolis, its music, and the future of the band. 

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Basilica Block Party 2013 lineup

"I think I've been lucky enough to have Chicago, which has kind of hardened me, and also have Minneapolis which I've always been coming back to," explains Eiseland. "And this like, I don't know, It's like finding love when you're young and feeling like 'I need to experience the world, I need to date, I need to whatever, and figure out myself as a person,' and that's like me going to Chicago. But then like always knowing that there's something real that you'll feel like can never attain anywhere else, and then getting to go back and have it work out."

He originally left the Twin Cities for Chicago when he was 18 in order to immerse himself in the music industry and to find his big break with Scattered Trees. However, he quickly discovered a gap between the new and established artists currently based in Chicago.

"It just seems like the support system isn't there," says Eiseland. "So kind of working my ass off in Chicago for so long made me really appreciate when anything good does happen... I could be doing something that I hate, just to survive. But I get to do something that I love and that I'm passionate about, to survive, and that, I think that's a privilege."

That isn't the only privilege On an On has received thus far. Originally lined up for Scattered Trees, the newly formed On an On were able to record their debut album with producer Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene, Los Campesinos). Describing it as "the perfect storm," the trio was able to successfully break away from a more-generic indie sound and transform it into a new harmonies, synths and buzzy guitars that's anything but.

However, this isn't the only transformation the band foresees. Eisland plans on using this summer to experiment on new forms of collaboration and production in preparation for their next album. The collaborative aspect of On an On is something that they want to be very "foundational," explains Eiseland. "And like with the last album I had finished most of those songs and we went in and worked on them arrangement-wise and instrumentally and things like that, but they were pretty much done on the way in. and with this we really wanted to write together, together. To actually form the stuff."
To do this, On an On is taking every day devices such as iPhones to capture the raw collaborative moments that musicians often overlook. Breaking away from safely jamming out in the studio, they plan on holding onto the original ideas and putting them into the album. Eiseland explains, "We don't ever to just want to execute something trying to make it just sound cleaner, or sound more like you're in a studio. Like if it sounds amazing, there's a ton of energy in this thing that you recorded from your iPhone, we're going to put that on the album. We're not afraid to do anything."

Although it'll be some time before their second album's release, Eiseland reveals that the art of experimentation and trying something new is "where the mystery lives, where you're not sure if it's going to work. That's the kind of shit I'm really excited about, the things that might be terrible, but then they turn out to be magical. That's what I'm excited about, what all of On an On is really excited about."

On an On will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 13 at Basilica Block Party on the stage. Check out the full schedule here.

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