Northern National brings, The New Age to Deep Ellum

 Photo: Sean Berry

Photo: Sean Berry

With a fresh presence in the Dallas music scene, indie rock band, Northern National, is quickly becoming the buzz around town. The newest music project from the group's founders, Rossi and Kanne, only formed in May of this year, but they already have a debut single that was featured on Spotify's Discover Weekly gaining over 300,000 plays. Their polished, radio-ready debut EP was released last month and has been getting rave reviews from anyone who has heard it. Ready to start diving further into the Dallas music scene, they will be playing their CD release party at the not-so-secret speakeasy, High & Tight Barbershop, on Thursday, October 20. We sat down with the band’s two founders to hear about their vision for the new EP and the story behind the new band, Northern National.

Band members: Michael Rossi — lead vocals and rhythm guitar; Michael Kanne — keyboard and percussionist; Andrew Supulski — lead guitar and background vocals; Dylan Greene — bassist and background vocals; Anthony Comas — drummer

So start out by telling us how Northern National came to be.

Rossi: It started with Kanne and I. I’ve done music for the past 15 years and so I was always in a band with a bunch of people. Kanne had never been in one, more than just him and another person. So i said, dude let’s add on the people we really trust to be our go-to guys.

How did you guys meet each other?

Rossi: How did Kanne and I meet? Oh sweetheart, tell them our story (laughs). So basically, I’ve done music for a long time, and this was right when people were posting a lot on YouTube. So I posted a video of me singing my old songs and Kanne randomly hit me up on Facebook, and was like, “Hey man, I saw this video and I really like your voice. I’m trying to start up a band, do you want to meet up and just talk?” I thought it was weird, but was like, yeah that’s cool man, let’s just do this.

Kanne: First, let me say something...I am the worst singer ever. I song-write and hear melodies well, but I can’t sing to save my life.

Rossi: He sounds like a dying cat (laughs). He sent me a video of him playing piano and singing the song he wrote, and was like, “Keep in mind I’m not a singer,” I press play and I’m like holy shit, this is awful. But the song itself was decent. It had a lot of ground to it. I’m married and my wife knows what she likes, “He doesn't sing right...” And I was like, no he doesn’t sing, but the song has roots, it’s good. So that’s how we met, through Facebook. We met up at a coffee shop in Denton, Jupiter House. And then we went to the orchestra practice rooms at UNT and wrote one of our first songs ever, 5 years ago.

Kanne: We started a project originally that wasn’t Northern National that was just Rossi and I. We did our first independent record in 2014 that was a pop rock. We wrote all our songs before playing together live.

Rossi: The guy that produced it, Jon Draper, is an awesome musician and really talented guy. If you ever listen to our first record, which is hard to find because we took it offline, it has a John Mayer vibe mixed with Keith Urban. But we realized we were more dark, rock than that record.

So what’s the songwriting process like for Northern National?

Rossi: That’s what’s cool about it now. It’s always been Kanne and I just sitting down — I start with a guitar part and then sing something like a melody, and if Kanne likes it, we just go with it it. We were actually just talking about this, I hate writing down stuff. I remember hooks and stuff that I’ll sing, but verses I can never remember. But I’m good at coming up on the fly with random lyrics. So we’ll sit there with his laptop, and Kanne will be like oh hell, I like that. He’ll start writing something and read me the first couple of verses, and then we’ll start bouncing off ideas.

Kanne: Yeah that’s how we wrote the record we have out now. It was him and I, we wrote everything acoustically that same way, and like he said, he would sing something and I would write a lot lyrically.

How does this new EP, The New Age, differ from your previous record?

Rossi: So the first record was just very cliche and cheesy. It was love songs that made girls dance. It was a safe record for us. When we started writing this new record, The New Age, I had just had a kid, going through a bunch of shit, thinking, oh crap, life’s changing. I have to be a grown-up now. Also, growing up, we both went through depression, you know, everybody goes through those awkward years. Well right when I was about to have a kid, I started going back into a funk. I’m thinking, shit man, life’s about to get real again, and I don’t know if I’m ready. So that’s when we started writing the single of "The New Age", and that’ what that songs about.

That seems like a pretty big motif, is that why you named the EP, The New Age as well?

Rossi: Yeah, so it’s all encompassing. The New Age is us, the new age of Northern National. But it’s also just the new age in the sense of ourselves and where we are in life. You have a kid and shit changes — right then. I need to grow up and take care of this little being...for at least 18 years (laughs).

Kanne: And that specific song for us was about working 9-5 jobs, doing it all the time, and getting stuck in a rut where you can’t get out of it. So it’s about not being too afraid to try it, do something different, and not worried about anything else but what you want do.

Rossi: We base a lot of the songs we think will resonate with people based off of if my wife likes it or not. Because we all sit in my den and play, and if my wife is singing it the next day, we know that the song has roots and has something that can definitely go.

So is she your sounding-board for what’s good and what’s not?

Kanne: Pretty much (laugh), there’s a few songs that we’ll write and we love it, but she’ll be like, “Nah, I don’t like it…” and the next day she’s singing it. And we’re like, yep we got ya!

Rossi: Yeah, she’ll randomly text me on her way to work and be like, damn I’m singing that song you guys were working on last night. That’s also how we went with this new album. We wanted to write catchy stuff without losing the commercial appeal.

Kanne: That’s something we’ve always been big on, we don’t try to be weird. We’re both business-minded first and artists as well. We want our music to resonate with more than just three people.

So the first single off the EP is, “Love Is Fire”, were you surprised at how well received it was?

Kanne: Yeah, we were particularly surprised with Spotify.

Rossi: Yeah, Spotify just recently picked up “The New Age”.

Kanne: When we released “Love Is Fire”, it hardly had any listens. But the third week it went from zero to 26,000 in a day.

Rossi: Yeah, just overnight. As for the popularity of it, it doesn’t surprise me because whenever we were writing — we co-wrote that with four people  — it just came really fast. We knew pretty quickly that it would be the single. It was pretty different from our old stuff, we definitely like this style and want to transition towards it.

Are there plans in the future for a full-length album?

Rossi: We’re writing currently for it. We’ve got some songs for it in the works. We’re hoping to release it in late summer or fall.

Kanne: We want to start the recording process again next January.

Rossi: So Kenny Chesney…. bear with me, always releases something right at the beginning of the summer. And so it’s similar to that mentality. Us releasing stuff in the fall just works, our music suits well to the fall-type feel. Our music is like “Sweater Weather”, from The Neighborhood. I want people to have a mood and feel when they listen to it. Like, I remember when I first heard that song at this bar hanging out…

What can we expect from your CD release show at High & Tight this Thursday?

Kanne: We’re going to get our haircuts right before we walk on stage (laughs). We’ve done the Cinderblock shows and some radio spots before, but this is our first Deep Ellum show. We’re excited!

Be sure to check out the new EP from Northern National, The New Age, and stop by High and Tight in Deep Ellum October 20th for their CD Release Party.  To stay up to date on all Northern National news you can follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and Spotify.

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Amy Mrstik