Now, Now’s hiatus is over. The duo of KC Dalager and Brad Hale recently released an intoxicating pop single, “SGL,” and will hit the road this summer.
It’s about time. In 2012, Now, Now (then a trio with Jess Abbott) disappeared after the band’s critically acclaimed sophomore album, Threads, was dubbed “perfect pop” by NPR and landed the band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. After extensive touring, the band took a breather, Abbott drifted away to pursue her project Tancred, and the original duo painstakingly began composing a third album, the name of which they aren’t ready to share yet.
Hale, a lifelong Minnesotan, originally met Dalager in 2002 at marching band camp. She was full of teen angst, had recently learned to play guitar, and shared a cassette recording of her music with Hale. His response was encouraging, and from then on, they recorded together.
We spoke with Hale and Dalager to find out where they’ve been and why they stayed away so long.
City Pages: Once you started putting out albums as Now, Now, you enjoyed some indie music success. Then you took a hiatus. Where have you been for the past few years?
KC Dalager: We had come off a pretty extensive touring cycle with our last album. I think we were mentally, emotionally --
Brad Hale: -- physically --
KCD: -- burnt-out. We kind of were at a crossroads with what we were trying to do in life, musically and creatively.
CP: What did you do in the interim?
KCD: It was pretty much entirely us trying to write the [new] record, but various forms of struggling.
BH: It was a few years of trying to figure out what we wanted our musical lives to be like, finding out what excites us and exploring stuff that we didn’t feel like we could explore before, just making sure that everything we were making was sincere and felt like us. At some points, it was pretty scary and unnerving, not knowing what we wanted to do, but I think it was an important few years, to come to this place we are now.
CP: What was it that wasn’t working?
BH: It was only a couple of years since we released Threads but a lot of those songs were years older than that. We had changed as people and our tastes have changed and we’ve grown up and our brains kind of shifted and we just needed to unravel all of that stuff that happened.
KCD: I wouldn’t even say necessarily that our tastes had changed, I think we were just always too scared to do what we felt like we wanted to do.
CP: What is the musical style that feels more authentic to both of you?
BH: There’s a new kind of confidence in what we’re doing. We’re not really hiding behind a lot of stuff. I still love the record, but Threads was darker, more shrouded. It was very telling of the place we were in when we were writing it, but we’ve kind of come out from under that.
KCD: I can be more direct now, whereas before -- I think it was because I was confused in life – I felt the need to overcomplicate my lyrics to a certain extent. Now, I’ve reached a point where I don’t have a problem saying the things I want to say -- relationship, business, whatever. I’ve found a sense of power in myself that I didn’t know I had before. I think that translates.
CP: You’ve released a single, “SGL.” What inspired it? Is it a personal story?
BH: To me, it’s indicative of this newfound energy and freedom we have now, coming out from underneath this rock we’ve been living under while trying to write this record. It feels like it has a summery positivity to it, which is something kind of new for us.
KCD: I wouldn’t even say it has a “summery positivity” to it. I just think it’s a more direct song. It was kind of the first time where I’d been honest about what exactly was happening in a personal relationship and it was the first time that I wasn’t scared to just tell a story like it happened. Everything that we write is based on personal experience.
CP: As you’re putting out this new album and touring it, what are you going to do differently so you don’t find yourself in the same place where you were before?
KCD: I think something that Brad and I are learning to do is be able to communicate every single thing, like, “What feels healthy to you? What doesn’t feel healthy to you? What will make you happy? What will make you later on feel miserable?” I think we’re able to communicate with each other those things to make sure that we’re both emotionally nurturing each other in the ways that we need to be.
BH: I think we learned from the past couple years that we should be aware of how this career is affecting us mentally and be making sure that’s in check. We’re being proactive about it.
CP: You both make it sound like it’s very difficult to do what you do, yet I imagine there are a lot of bands that dream of having the success you’ve had. Why is it so taxing?
BH: For a band our size -- we’re not an unknown band but we’re not a massive band selling out First Avenue sized rooms everywhere in the country -- being at that level is very stressful because it takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of patience and a lot of sacrifice in your personal life and financially. It can make you go into some dark moments where you’re questioning, “What am I doing? Is this right? Should I be following this still?” It’s really hard a lot of the times to keep your head up. At the same time, I don’t think I would be happy doing anything else. It’s all about keeping that perspective and keeping your mental game strong. Being a musician is often times not a dream. It’s not this luxury life where you --
KCD: -- are partying every night.
BH: Of course, there’s a lot of great stuff. We’ve been to so many great places and learned a lot and met so many great people and that’s kind of priceless, so it’s those things that make it all worth it.
Where: 7th Street Entry
When: 7:30 p.m., Thursday, July 6
Tickets: $15, more info here