Pushing It: North by North Chose a Power-Duo over a Power-Trio
Lou Reed famous said “One chord is fine. Two chords is pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.” Chicago-based duo North by North felt kind of the same way about band members, choosing to abandon a trio format and stuck to the fundamentals: guitar, drums, and a furious garage-rock yawp. The band will be returning to the Rogue Valley for a show at Johnny B’s in Medford on Monday, Nov. 13 and drummer, Kendra Blank took the time to answer a few questions for The Messenger to preview the show.
RVM: What are the benefits of playing as a two-piece?
KB: More money! Ha. But seriously, not having to split payout with a third person has helped us save up for recording costs and the inevitable van repairs. We are able to interact more intimately on stage, and with the drums set up front next to the guitar, Kendra is a much more integral part of the aesthetic of the performance. The sound is a bit more raw and a bit more punk rock, which adds to the energy and the intensity of the stage performance.
RVM: What are the challenges?
KB: Loading gear! Ha. With one-third fewer people, we’re both getting our fair share of exercise by lugging all our gear into and out of venues every night. It also makes leaving the van more difficult for sightseeing and hangs, as we prefer not to leave the gear or the van unattended for very long.
RVM: Stripped down rock bands are enduring even though rock’s influence nationally is somewhat on the decline. Why do you think that sort of rock is coming back?
KB: I think people are tired of listening to the mainstream Top 40 radio, so they’re turning to guitar-driven rock music exactly because it feels kind of underground at the moment. Plus, recent rockers like Jack White and Josh Homme have paved the way for the rest of us to see that it’s possible to make catchy riff rock, and people are running with it.
RVM: Y’all tour a lot. Why so much, and how does that affect your life and music?
KB: We feel that the best way to get our music out there is with grassroots, boots-on-the-ground touring. We’re meeting new people every night and growing our fan base around the country, and it’s been so freeing to be out on the road. Our writing has slowed down a ton, as we’re at the mercy of friends’ rehearsal spaces and basements, but the songs that we have had a chance to write are really fun and full of energy.
RVM: You’ve been through Southern Oregon several times now. Any thoughts or expectations?
KB: It’s a beautiful part of the country both in the summer and in the fall, and we’re looking forward to coming back!
RVM: What’s on the radar for y’all?
KB: Wrapping up this year’s tour with the rest of the west coast, through Arizona and Texas, back to Chicago for a few weeks to record Album 3, and onto the next installment of the Never-Ending Tour!
North by North, with AKA Faceless, Scott Garriott, and The Shaky Harlots
9 pm Mon., November 13
Johnny B’s, 120 E. Sixth St., Medford