Minnesota trio Now, Now may have hit a few bumps in the touring road when promoting their full-length album Cars back in 2009, but that didn’t stop them from getting favorable reviews from Filter, Spin and even leading lady Hayley Williams of Paramore. The entrancing vocals with a spicy sprinkling of savvy indie roots continued on for the band as they opened for Paramore on a European tour, then took some time to regroup, seperate from their Afternoon Records label, and solidify a lineup. Back now with an EP entitled Neighbors (out now on No Sleep Records), the band is now touring with Hellogoodbye and You, Me and Everyone We Know. I had the chance to talk with members Cacie and Jess before they head into Philly this Tuesday to play at First Unitarian Church.
You used to be called Now Now Every Children, and you dropped part of the name; you told Spin it was because you wanted to get a little more serious and less childish. Why not pick a whole new name?
It wasn’t necessarily the name that we didn’t like. It was just the fact that it was kind of messy, and it was just a way to simplify it for us. When we would be playing a show and people would be like, “Who are you guys?” we would have to say, “Now Now Every Children” and so many times they would be like, “What?” It was just really awkward for [us] to go back and forth when [we] were on stage and random people in the crowd couldn’t even tell what our name [was]. And yeah, to just drop the childish factor…it was the easiest way for us to do that and go about simplifying it for us.
Are you in a solid line up now? I know in the earlier days, you were still kind of playing around with it.
Yes, right now, it’s solidifed that it’s Brad, Jess and I. And we no longer have any touring members so it’s just the three of us.
How is the writing process coming from Cars into the new EP, and eventually a new album, now that there are three of you?
It’s a lot more complicated because the three of us are more involved. When there’s two, it’s way easier because one person’s like, “Ok, well here’s my idea,” and the other person’s like, “Okay, cool!” When there’s three of us bringing ideas to the table, we have to make it something that all three of us are happy with and we all have different styles, and everyone wanting it to be how they want I guess. So it’s just balancing the three of us. It’s a little complicated, but it’s way better as a whole, because if one person doesn’t have an idea, there are two other people as opposed to just two people going back saying “I don’t know, I don’t know.”
I read that you went back into your basement to record the new EP, what made you decide that?
Yeah. What happened is that we kind of weren’t really intending anything to happen with this EP. We went on a tour last winter, and we didn’t really do anything for a long time after that, because we had a lot of problems that we had to figure out.
Jess: We had to figure out a lot of things with people we were working with and where we were going as a band.
Cacie: Some of them are songs that we had little bits of, but didn’t really know what to do with, so we just kind of decided to put something out for the sake of kids listening to us and knowing that we were still trying to do things, and still writing together and working and not giving up being a band, you know? So the easiest way for us to record, and the most comfortable, is for us to record in Brad’s basement. Because that’s where we do all of our demoing, and that’s just most comfortable for us. Because there wasn’t a whole lot of stress for this EP, because it was only four songs, and there was no pressure from anyone else, it was just the three of us. And there was no label attached, no extra producer or anything like that, so it was just the three of us just writing together for the first time. It was nice.
What made you decide to do a tour for it after all?
What happened is at first we made about 150 physical copies that we just handmade. We were just going to have a really, really small run that we were going to sell online. And like two days before the online release, No Sleep came to us and were like, “Hey, we want to put this out,” and we were like, “Uhhh….okay.” So we put it up digitally for 24 hours just so kids wouldn’t be like, “Okay, where’s the EP?” And then we just have put it out with No Sleep since.
What made you decide to leave Afternoon Records?
Jess: The last tour we did, over the winter of 2009 and into 2010, we kind of realized we were going in a lot of different directions as a band, and we needed to kind of regroup and do our own thing for a little while. There had been a lot of disagreements with who we were working with, and we kind of just wanted a clean break to decide what was going to happen in the future.
Back when you were touring for Cars, I remember reading this heartbreaking blog about your van breaking down and other problems. I was wondering if this time around, you think you’ll be in better shape?
Funny you should bring this up….because today, our van was at the mechanic, and a piece of our van got stolen while it was at the shop. And we just got it figured out maybe a half an hour before you called. But initially the shop had said we had to pay for it, because it was our van, even though it was on their property. But their insurance ended up covering it, but we were freaking out today. So hopefully it will be fine. But we’re in a better situation [than we were]. We’re still completely broke, but we’re a teeny bit less broke now.
Jess: But as a band, we’re in a really great position. I think this is going to be a really awesome year for us.
I remember talking to you about two years ago. It was very shortly after Hayley from Paramore had wrote something about you in their blog. And then you ended up touring with them! I was wondering what that whole experience was like, and from going to being a small band to suddenly opening up for all these great bands you’re going on tour with.
That tour was probably the craziest thing that we have ever done and ever will do. And I don’t think anything will ever top the absolute insanity of that tour. It doesn’t even feel real. When we think about it now, we’re kind of like, “That was some really weird dream…it didn’t really happen.” It was crazy. So that was a really startling thing. We were obviously really excited when we found out about that tour, but I had kind of a mental breakdown, because I didn’t feel we were ready for that kind of thing. And looking back, we absolutely weren’t ready, but it was obviously one of the best experiences that we’ll ever have.
We’re still a really tiny band, and them giving us that opportunity was awesome, but also terrifying.
Going back to that Spin article, they were calling the EP more refined, confident and simplified compared to Cars. Did you purposely try to do that?
It wasn’t really intentional, I guess. Just again, since all three of us are part of the writing process now, there’s just another brain added to the process, and…I always have a hard time with this question. Jess?
Jess: I think you’ll find, as with most groups, as time passes, [the band] kind of changes, and you’re kind of maturing as an artist. And with the addition of myself, it all kind of ended up being the compilation of the three of our brains into one, after having spent an entire year together, not doing anything, and just kind of waiting around and writing.
I think that’s great. I also think it’s awesome that you put those acoustic tracks on there, do you ever do anything acoustic live?
Also, perfect timing, we just put together a little four-song acoustic set that we’ll be playing randomly throughout this tour.
Jess: We don’t know any details yet, but somewhere along the line, we’ll have some tiny little acoustic sets, and performances on blogs.
What’s the Minnesota music community like? Do you feel like you’re a major part of it?
To be honest, I don’t think we really feel like we’re much of a part of it. We’re like a weird genre. A lot of artists that are coming out of Minneapolis right now are hip-hop artists, or super super super pop-punk, or more of like a bar kind of rock scene. There’s also some really good acoustic acts. We don’t really fit in to any specific Minnesota genre. Playing shows in Minneapolis is actually kind of hard, because no one really likes us.
I know you’re promoting the Neighbors EP right now, but I was wondering if you had plans for another full-length?
Jess: We’ve been planning to do another full-length for awhile now, and we were originally going to do it in October but then it kind of got pushed back again. But now, we’re really really kind of hoping that we’re going to be recording it in May. I would say we’re like 90% sure. We’re just about finished writing it. We still need to talk about titles and art direction and everything.
What do you do for fun when you’re not doing band stuff?
For fun, since we’re all broke, we sit at each other’s houses and watch Xena on netflix.
Jess: And we go to Taco Bell a lot. Chipotle if we’re feeling fancy.
Cacie: We’re broke, so we don’t really have a whole lot to do. But we’re usually happy just hanging out with each other. Right now we all don’t have jobs, and we’re hoping that this year will be the year that we don’t have to have jobs.
Be sure to catch Now, Now on Tuesday at 6 at First Unitarian Church. Tickets are $15. Check out http://www.r5productions.com/ for more information.
Neighbors is now streaming in full at Fliter.