Northcote Has Punk Rock In His DNA

By John B. Moore

Matt Goud already has an EP and a full- length under his belt, but with Northcote- his sophomore record (and also the moniker he goes by)- he is finally ready to introduce his music to the rest of the world.

Europe already got a head start with Goud having just wrapped up a tour of that continent, opening for Dave Hause. The U.S. was next with the release of Northcote, out on Black Numbers, followed by his first U.S. tour, again opening for longtime friend Hause.

Resting in his native Canada before the next tour, he spoke recently about the new record, having punk rock in his DNA, and his friendship with Hause.

I know this is a little taboo in music journalism, but can you talk for a minute about the significance of the band name?

When I set out to do a solo project in 2009, you have to understand that I share a name with a famous Canadian rocker. He had a bunch of hits when I was in junior high, so that was not an option. My partner is from Northern Canada and I was living and working up there at the time. It’s basically the Arctic, and I have an affinity for northern-isms. “Cote” means ‘a shelter.’ I didn’t realize this at the time, but there is a place in Australia that is called Northcote.

That seems like the polar opposite of what you were describing.

Yeah, I was not aware of that when I chose the moniker. There’s a poet from Montreal who was a contemporary of Leonard Cohen and he has a poem called The Dovecote about a shelter. But I didn’t want to use Dovecote. That didn’t really fit for me, so I went with Northcote.

Northcote - self titled

One thing that stands out from your record, while it’s obviously not a punk record, much like a Frank Turner or Tim Barry album you definitely hear punk influences that are pretty apparent. Did you grow up listening to punk music?

Yeah I did. I played in post hardcore and hardcore bands. I went to Hall shows. Some of the first shows I went to on road trips with friends were the Warped Tour 1998 or something like that when I was in grade eight, grade nine. We saw AFI and Hot Water Music, Good Riddance, bands like that. It’s definitely in my DNA as a musician. Although with this new record, I don’t know if it comes through totally well, but a lot of my influences would be soul music, R&B, and then a lot of American rock like Tom Petty. It’s hard to escape that DNA thing that you have, because when you get in front of a mic on stage or in the studio your true colors are gonna come out no matter how much you want to sound like something in particular. Your true colors are hard to hide.

The horns were a great accompaniment to the songs on this record. Have you always played with horns or is that something new you wanted to try on this album?

When I first started Northcote I had an EP that was about 20 minutes long and at that time the incarnation of the band was me, a standup bass player, and a horn player, and she also played keys. So the first 15 shows or so was that line up. Horns are something I had used in the past and I took a break from it on the first full- length.

Aside from ska bands and Springsteen, I don’t think enough people take advantage of horns in music nowadays.

Yeah, some of my good friends have a pop band with a horn player and it’s a lot of fun. When it’s done really well it becomes a trademark to your sound. I kind of think of the horn, with my stuff, as almost like a synthesizer. It’s an atmospheric thing.

Your first full length was not self-titled, but this one was. Is there significance in why you chose to title this one the name of the band?

Yeah, I feel with this one I got a new start, at least in my own mind. I had three or four titles kicking around, but nothing was really 100 percent correct. I really liked the idea of a self-title. I was also anticipating that this record would open up some new doors for me and that really has started to happen. I got to play in Europe and the first shows in the U.S. are coming up. Even in Canada, I’ve just started to get songs on the radio and in festivals. Even though it’s my second full- length and I have an EP, I feel like my identity for Northcote has become more solid. I had a little bit of experience with the training wheels, and now I have a little better idea of what I want to be.

I may be looking too hard into this, but is there an overall theme to the record or was it simply a collection of songs you had at the time?

There’s not an overall theme, but there are ideas I’ve been thinking about now that I’ve been playing the album for eight months on the road: one would be coming out of your shell. I think previously, when I would play, I was too concerned with what others thought and a little too self-critical. And with this record, when I was writing it and recording it, if I would ask myself “Is this too corny or too serious or is this too loud” I gave myself permission to go for it and loosen the chains a little bit and lyrically I think that’s what it did for me… I’m an outgoing and positive person, but I can also be shy and have had struggles, so it’s therapeutic. I’d like to be an expressive person and my music helps me to almost play that character. I can be that person that I wish to be on stage. That’s not very concise, but that’s one theme.

Had you known Dave Hause prior to joining him on the European tour?

Yeah, in the spring of 2010 I did my first Canadian tour and I borrowed a car from my parents, a little two door Honda car, and I was going to go from Quebec City to Vancouver to play the 20 minutes that I had and I had a friend who was a booking agent who said, “There’s this guy from Philadelphia who’s looking for something to do.” This was around the time that The Loved Ones was cooling down and Dave had either just recorded or demoed Resolutions, but it wasn’t out yet and he had just stopped working on his construction business and was just looking for something to do. I didn’t know him at all and this agent had just put us together, so I picked him up in Toronto and we did about 25 shows together and that was three years ago. He’s been working non-stop and his act is really taken off. I’ve just been working Canada. It was special that he asked me to support him on his Devour world tour. We had that connection from when we first started. That’s the whole romantic story.

Get Northcote on vinyl here.

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Northcote

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