The Northstar Session

“We recorded at the Hobby Shop in Highland Park,” said guitarist and songwriter Matthew Szlachetka.  “We also brought in George Johnsen and the production was old school.”

Late Bloomer is The Northstar Session’s latest studio album.  Celebrating their April 2, 2011 release of their record at Molly Malone’s in Los Angeles, the band could not be more pleased with the production quality provided by co-producers Johnsen and Joe Napolitano. 

Between the two producers, they have worked with acts such as Pink Floyd, John Fogerty and the Henry Clay People.  Late Bloomer is just another example of a well-produced album.

Dave Basaraba (keys, saxophone, vocals) said that “track number three was the coolest track” on the album.  Titled “In Time,” it builds constantly from the first second of play, laden with keys, electric guitar and percussion that explode into a chorus about a particular someone that will “be mine.”

Although Basaraba indicated that the track involved a bit of work to master what is heard on the record, it manages to remain simple enough and not overdrawn by overwhelming effects. 

The most important thing to note about their songs (all members share songwriting duties) is that they are honest and unapologetic.  Ranging from the topics of personal struggle (“Staring Out Your Window”), relationships (“Love Won’t Keep Them Apart”) and the story about a lost connection between a father and son (“Who You Were”) are just a few examples of what is heard within the band’s tightly knit three-part harmonies.

“If you get too complicated, the concepts go over your head.  What we are doing is trying to sell a product,” said drummer Kane McGee.

The three have been selling products for a few years now.  They met in 2007 after Szlachetka relocated to Los Angeles from San Diego.  Originally a rock outfit, The Northstar Session’s sound turned into something a little more melodic and pop rock.  They released To Be Continued (2007), Prehistoric Times (2008), and Winter Collection in 2010.  The latter album’s track, “You Come Up Like a Rose,” was featured on NBC’s Parenthood.

“Dave thought that we would be lip-synching on the show, but we actually played the song live.  It was quick and fun.  We were like pros!” said Szlachetka,  laughing.

They certainly are professional.  The Northstar Session are full-time musicians, and are constantly touring, constantly writing and constantly making a mark everywhere they play.  They switch between acoustic and electric sets, playing songs from each of their CDs.

“We are growing and expanding, hitting the West Coast hard,” said Szlachetka.  “We usually book four to five months out and have learned that scheduling is best ahead of time.”

With the new album finally released, The Northstar Session is off and running this year, playing at spots in Central California, as well as Northern California and The Pacific Northwest for McMenamin’s Tour.  After taking a quick glance at their concert calendar, the men are solidly booked till September.

Influenced by artists such as The Black Crowes, Tom Petty, Band of Horses and Arcade Fire, the band develops their style based on the musical characteristics of old rock and roll bands and contemporary artists.  Although they have plenty of original material, they will sometimes break into a cover song.

“We like covers.  We learn a lot from them,” said McGee.

Based in Los Angeles, the band clearly sees that the music market is constantly changing.  They are starting to notice that labels are no longer putting on shows in larger venues, and that medium-sized and smaller venues are even better.

“The whole point is to spread music to people.  Bands sometimes have the wrong idea in their heads,” said Basaraba. 
That certainly was not the case at Molly Malone’s in early April.  The venue was not an arena, but it was filled from wall to wall.  It is obvious that The Northstar Session’s success is based purely on the music. 

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