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Interview with Northern Gloom
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
My Dad took me to see KISS on their reunion tour when they put their makeup back on in 1996. Half way through the show, Gene Simmons was lowered into the crowd by one of their large crane props and he saw my 5-year-old self and reacted. His eyes opened WIDE and he pointed at me and was basically like “That is fucking awesome!” From that moment on I knew it was the only thing for me. I’ve never felt seen like that by any performer since that day. Fun fact, Deftones were their opener on that tour and the crowd HATED them. Technically Deftones were my first show seeing as how they opened. Anyway…
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I mean, I play in 7 bands so I basically always play music. If I’m not playing music I’m fucking around with my camera, watching a scary movie with my wife or going on psychedelic trips.
How long has music been your career?
I’ve been playing the guitar for 20 years now so, we’ll say 20 years.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
We are based out of Harrisburg, PA. Living in the Capital City of my state has been very Interesting. You have a ton of state workers, politicians, activists and private entities all running around the same streets as us artists. Sonically, I’ve always wanted our music to sound like folk songs for the rolling green hills of beautiful Central PA, but the content in the lyrics is about how the politicians and private entities are doing their best to fuck it all up.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
The best show Northern Gloom has done was probably our album release show for our new record “Here It Is!”. The crowd was awesome, the bands were awesome and best of all - we recorded the whole show! We will release it next year at some point as our 2nd live album. You can find our first live record "This Isn't A Revival, It's A Revolution!" on our bandcamp.
The worst show we’ve ever played? I can’t really think of a specific one that was truly terrible because either way we are insanely lucky to be in a band. That said, there’s been shows where the audience is sleepy and that always gets me in an antagonistic mood which results in me telling them they need to try some psychedelics and live a little bit. I’m not a doctor, but some people clearly need to trip.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
The West Shore Theatre in New Cumberland, PA is my new favorite venue. It’s an old theatre that was recently renovated and reopened. This space has turned into a really positive spot for the local arts community in my town, which makes it very special. I will say, we played several shows with Steel City Death Club in Pittsburgh and those shows are INSANE. They have 3 amazing house venue spaces that they pack with people. Very rowdy.
I’m very excited at the potential of playing in Montreal for the first time and Toronto again. We have already been to Toronto, but our 2 Montreal shows got cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Well, if we’re talking current bands, I love Teri Gender Bender, Tame Impala and Flat Worms. A fantasy gig would be opening for Killing Joke during their Brighter Than A Thousand Suns tour in the 1980’s.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
Listen, have fun, build community, and be yourself.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
There’s nothing revolutionary about being a dick on the internet. That’s advice I’d give anyone though.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
That’s tough. Probably “Autolux” if I have to pick one. That song is all about how fucked things have become in America. In 2020, I felt like there were few good actors aka people that truly wanted to help our situation as a whole. In stead what we got was a bunch of elitist propagandists programmed by corporate news media, hollow political idols and peer pressure.
I have always been a free thinker and it concerns me how easily people can be indoctrinated into radical systems of belief. That song is basically the realization that everybody is so programmed in this country. It’s the realization of that, but also acknowledging that people like us in Northern Gloom aren’t going anywhere. The right fucking people. The people who understand that this life and this earth are a gift. We are going to continue to spread love and build community regardless of the murder porn that the elites want to watch on television.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Autolux, False Hope and Lust are probably the most fun right now. Our third record has some insane stuff on it. We’ve just started playing a few of the songs live and they’ve gone over extremely well.
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
Typically I (Michael) will bring a song out to Cory and Brian. Cory and Brian either say “That sucks!” Or “That rules!” And we go from there. They both have strong opinions and personalities. I may write the bare bones of the song, but what we end up with usually is a total 3 way collaboration. Cory has written a few Gloom tunes as well!
My approach to writing is very fun. I am either sober writing during the day or eating mushrooms and writing at night. I love to experiment with psychedelics while I write. I also love feeling the sober pain of each day while I write. Life is indeed painful and pisses me off, but I love glam rock as much as I love post-punk and metal which means I like to have a good time while I write my social commentary. Psychedelic Mushrooms allow me to get into a hypnotic state where I feel like anything is possible musically, like I can take a song wherever I want it to go. That’s probably when I write my favorite riffs. I pretty much always finish songs off in a sober state of mind to make sure it’s not total lunacy.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Be yourself and stop letting everyone and everything lead you around by the nose. You are an individual and that is a gift. You can also be an integral part of a group without being a cult member.
Also, if you’re going to use the internet at least know how to use it for it’s original purpose: to make your life easier. The internet isn’t real life and you need to spend less time on it.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
We have disagreements all the time, but that is a good thing! Disagreements mean we all care a lot about the music which makes the music better. I love working with Brian and Cory because I feel safe to be myself. I know they feel the same and for that I am grateful. We get past any disagreements by working through them, but if we ever hit a wall - there’s this amazing burrito joint called “Roburritos” near our studio that can surely take your mind off whatever the situation is.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We are about to track our third record which is very exciting. I really want to say what the record is called, but I am going to withhold that info for now. We went very rock’n’roll on this one. Most of these songs were written in a psychedelic state. Our vision for our 2nd album was an airplane soaring above all the madness going on down on the ground. For record 3, we wound up in a surreal place.