This is the starting point with which North of Tomorrow introduces their new 13-track album titled ‘&’. Just released on Lizard Records, the latest work by Gary Adrian, Brian Mueller and Stephen Rogers is a kaleidoscopic creative drift in an alternative, rich and diverse key that evades every genre classification, not bound by labels.
The fruit also of the alchemy created by the long-standing collaboration that binds the members of North of Tomorrow, ‘&’ is an album made even more precious by an endless list of artists from all over the world who collaborated to creating an interesting listening experience ours to discover and savour.
To discover more details about the concept of the band and this release, we reached North of Tomorrow for a short interview. Read on to find out more!
On your website, your “About” section is accompanied by a quote by Miles Davis: “Good music is good no matter what kind of music it is. It’s not about standing still and becoming safe. If anybody wants to keep creating they have to be about change.” How is this reflected in your concept?
As one’s appreciation for art grows and matures, it naturally broadens, rather than narrows. There are always going to be people who only want to see or hear one certain thing. But the vast majority of people really can and do appreciate a variety of art – once they are exposed to it.
The challenge is getting the music out and heard. The quote from Miles is just a reminder that everyone needs to explore, grow and change. Approaching art with preconceived notions elevates repetition and predictability over experiencing something new. Let’s not do that. You can snap your fingers, tap your foot, dance and have fun to a whole lot of different music.
Your latest project, the album ‘&’, consists of 13 multi-genre tracks, both instrumental and non-instrumental. Where does this decision to go against the commercial trends of the current record market come from?
There was no conscious decision. Of course, music and art necessarily involve business. It is wearisome being a starving artist. But while a businessman creates a product with commercial intentions solely for sale, an artist creates with different intentions and processes. An artist creates because… well, because that is who they are. They create the art that is inside them, and it has to come out. Evidently we are more artists than businessmen… (laughing) But our music relates back to the quote by Miles Davis that you started with – “Good music is good no matter what kind of music it is.” We believe that good music always has an audience – if for no other reason than just because it is good. If we can create good music, the rest will take care of itself, regardless of the commercial trends. All we have to do is create GOOD music. We’re trying.
What is the meaning behind the album title, ‘&’?
There are really three reasons for the title. First, we have been writing and playing music for quite some time and the creative process just continues. So “&” basically reflects “and here is the next batch of musical ideas for your listening consideration.”
Second, this album also reflects the contributions of number of musicians. Over the years, we have developed a rather large network of musicians on a worldwide basis, with performances and collaborations shared over the internet. The new album has musicians from Italy, Indonesia, Ukraine, Nashville, St. Louis, Germany, the U.K. and Montreal.
And third, we just like the way “&” looks as a design element.
Simply defining your music as alternative seems at least reductive. There is a non-explicit complexity in your music: let’s consider, for example, the inflections of intonation, or the mix of styles. Is there any parallelism with the natural imperfection of the human being?
It would be great to be able to say yes to that question, and delve into the deeper meaning of the human condition and the philosophies of Neitzsche or Kierkegaard. It would make us sound so intellectual. But we really just get bored easy; or maybe we just have musical ADD and can’t focus on one thing for very long. (laughing).
OK, the actual answer is something in between. If you are trying to create something authentic, you can only write the music that you hear in your head. This is the music we hear. Otherwise, you are getting back to your earlier question about trying to artificially fit something into a “commercial trends” slot. Also, we want to write and create music that doesn’t give up everything the first couple times you listen to a song. Hopefully you can hear something new, or at least an overlooked detail, with repeated listening. That approach results in a combination of different styles, tones, rhythms, layers, within the same song. And sometimes, that approach requires throwing musical theory out the window. On a number of occasions, we have a discussion along the lines of “Hey, play a G there.” “G isn’t going to fit because of what the keyboard is playing.” “Yes, but it will go with the guitar and the vocal, once we record it and you can hear it. Just try it.” And it works.
As for the previous ones, the latest video you made, too, the one accompanying the track ‘Nobody Loves You’, is characterized by a deeply visionary theme. Where do these inspirations come from?
When it comes to the videos, we have very little or no input. It is all about choosing the right video producer. We just use video producers whose style we like, give them the song, and say “Here is the song. Please come up with something interesting.” Luckily they do.
Are you going to translate your music also for live performances?
That is a good question. We have performed live a lot in our careers. Gary and Stephen still like live performances. Brian – not so much anymore. There is an excitement and satisfaction that live performances provide that is unlike any other. And live performances are the best way to get the music out to the public. So, we’ll see.
Can you give us any anticipation on your next work?
The new album – & – is new to the public, but not so new to us. Some of the songs are three and four years old. We are very happy with the results. But we already have 20 or 30 new songs in various stages of completion. We wanted to get these songs out first. But we have some REALLY good songs ready to go.
Where can your fans and listener go to know more about your projects?
We aren’t the most attentive social media participants. We need to get better at that. We have a website – www.northoftomorrow.com. We try to respond to all inquiries and messages both there, and in the YouTube comments. We will probably be posting some of the new material. And if there is something someone particularly liked off this album, let us know, and we will probably send you something new – “If you liked that, then you should check this out.”