Northstar Session (L to R): Matthew Szlachetka, Dave Basaraba, Kane McGee
You can sit on your duff and listen to Northstar Session’s music on the PBS series, “Roadtrip Nation,” the Discovery Channel’s “Surgery Saved My Life,” and the feature film, “Numb” starring Matthew Perry. However, seeing vocalist Matthew Slazhetka, drummer Kane McGee and keyboardist Dave Basaraba while enjoying a glass of Cab or pint of Guinness, a plate of skirt steak and sweet potato fries seems like a better option.
You can do just that Thursday, when the Los Angeles band brings what Counting Crows co-founder Matt Malley calls “brilliant singing, brilliant songwriting, brilliant production” to Redding at Vintage Wine Bar & Restaurant.
I spoke to Dave, Kane and Matt about being on the road, their new projects and their incredible album covers.
Before I even ask about your music, I have to get the scoop on your album covers. Amazing. Any artists you want to give credit to?
Dave: Paul Moore did the most recent EP, Winter Collection. He’s an amazing artist, and seriously cool guy that we met through all the people at New West Records, where he is the art director.
Stephen Wright is also an amazing artist, and he did the artwork for the debut EP, New Prehistoric Times, back in 2008. He is an English graphic artist that we met through our MySpace page when we launched the first EP in 2007.
Next most important question: What’s it like to have your music featured in films and television? Must be a rush.
Kane: It’s always a great feeling when you’re sitting in a movie theater or at home and you hear your song come on. It’s definitely a rush.
From “Surgery Saved My Life” to “It’s Alive”? Speaks volumes about the adaptability of your music.
Matt: Yeah, when we write songs, no matter if you have a specific experience or situation that we’re writing about, we always try to achieve the same goal of making the song relate to a universal audience. Mainly in the sense that even if a listener doesn’t get the exact situation we’re talking about, they are still able to come away with a personable feeling from the song that they can relate to and transfer to their own experiences.
You’re embarking on quite a West Coast tour. What’s your favorite part of being on the road?
Dave: My favorite part is witnessing the different life that the songs take on while on the road. I know it sounds cliche, but you start to really trim the fat on arrangements, parts, etc. when you’re out playing them to people from different cities every night.
These songs have a life inside of us when they are written (many of them sit there for months before anyone else ever hears them) but when you get them out in front of an audience night in and night out, you start to realize that no matter what moment you thought the song was creating, it is now taking on its own life and direction based on the audience’s reactions.
Oh, and traveling with your best friends to different cities each night ain’t bad either! It’s a blast in between all the work of phone calls, e-mails, performances, driving, etc.
What do you hate about it?
Kane: Traveling is the hardest part for me. Living out of a suitcase can get old fast.
Any favorite venues?
Matt: Any venue that has a great vibe, pretty much. If a venue sounds half-way decent and you get a crowd that is responsive, every venue is the same in my book. As long as you’re connecting with your crowd, then the main objective of playing live music has been achieved. Obviously I play music because I can’t imagine doing anything else, but when you’re on stage it’s not really about you at all, it’s about connecting with your audience.
If I had to drop a name for a venue I would have to say Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, CA. It ALWAYS sounds amazing there and the crowd has always been more than kind to us. Really looking forward to playing there again soon.
Tell us what to expect from your new EP.
Dave: Expect the Northstar Session that you love from the first recordings, evolved, and growing into the band that we really want to be. It’s a more “grown-up” song style in my opinion, and something that really shows you where we’re headed musically. I think you’ll be able to pop this one in on a road trip and listen to it over and over again!
What: Northstar Session
When: Thursday, April 22 – 8 p.m.
Where: Vintage Wine Bar & Restaurant, 1790 Market Street, Redding
Cost: No Cover
Adam Mankoski is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner own HawkMan Studios and are the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday ArtHop. Email your North State news and events to firstname.lastname@example.org.