Jay Northington, Chris MatulichRed Scare Industries
By Tom Liveyns on February 22, 2017 at Antwerp, Belgium
Nothington just released their first album in 5 years.
That’s right – five years.
That’s a mighty long time to go without an album, but the wait was worth it as the eleven songs that make up In The End will definitely please both fans and critics alike. It features all the qualities the band is known and loved for while still sounding renewed, intricate and fresh. In short, In The End is arguably the bands best work to date.
There’s no better time than the present was our thinking, so we had to make an interview with Nothington songwriters Jay Northington and Chris Matulich happen. During their Europe tour the band took some time to answer our questions about the past, present and future of the band that is Nothington.
You played two shows in the UK already, how were those?
Jay: Yeah. They were good. It was good to see some old friends that we haven’t seen in a long time in Glasgow. And London was really cool. We’ve never had a very well attended show in London, and last night was.
Chris: We played the best venue we’ve ever played there, it’s called the Underworld.
Let’s start with a sort of introduction. What’s every band members weirdest or most annoying tour habit.
Jay: Honestly, I’ll just answer it. I’m probably the annoying one. But my goal is to not be annoying, at least this tour.
Chris: Are you going to admit to your habit?
Jay: My wrongdoings? (laughs)
Chris: Well, we all try to be at least annoying as possible.
Jay: Yeah, pretty much. I think… Nah, never mind. (laughs)
In The End
Okay, let’s move on. “In The End” has been out for about a week, how’s the reception?
Jay: Really good. It’s exciting. We waited so long for it to come out. The recording was done over two years ago. We’ve been waiting and waiting for it to come out. Now that it’s out and people like it, it’s not a “We told you so” moment but it’s rewarding that people were like: “Oh wow. It doesn’t suck.” That’s cool.
Chris: It took a long time to mix. But I’m glad that it sounds really good. We worked really hard on the songs. So having a great sounding recording is kind of nice.
Jay: It seems to be worth it.
The sound of the record has evolved compared to older records. Did you try anything new as far as production goes as well?
Jay: Yeah, we recorded at a different studio this time. The first three records were done at the same studio and this was done in a different one. Luke is playing drums on this record, so that’s different.
Chris: Luke plays drums in the Swingin Utters and he used to play in Cobra Skulls. We grew up together so writing the record with him was a different and cool process for sure.
It’s released through Red Scare Industries. Are there any other local labels you’re working with?
Chris: We just work with Red Scare. In Europe they partner with Gunner Records.
Do you have any good stories about Red Scare’s Toby? He’s some sort of punk rock myth.
Chris: He’s a myth?
Jay: The myth, the man, the legend. I’ve gotten along with him from day one. The first time I’ve ever met him was at a bar in San Francisco and he invited us back to his house and opened up a 25 year old bottle of Bushmills whiskey. This is 10 years ago at least, and from then on we’ve always been friends.
Chris: Toby is a great friend. I’ve been friends with him for almost 15 years. He can be difficult to do business with, which is why he has that reputation. But as a person he’s great and he works hard for all of his bands. He has our best interest in mind.
Jay: Toby’s awesome.
What’s the idea behind the artwork for “In The End”
Chris: The guy that I asked to do our artwork has done a lot of design work for us in the past for merch and stuff. He first came up with one idea that I didn’t really like, and when I sent him the record he noticed that we had a theme with birds, also in merch and another record. And he did a new take on a dying bird. And that was his idea and it looks cool. Everybody seems to really like it, we’ve gotten a lot of compliments on the artwork.
Jay: I’m very thrilled. I love birds. That’s what my dad calls me. Bird.
So it’s a recurring theme.
Chris: Yeah, we have a recurring theme of birds and the knight chess piece, the horse chess piece. I don’t know why but those things have just come up.
Jay: The idea originally of the chess piece came from an old western called Have Gun – Will Travel. The Paladin in that series has a card with that chess piece on it. And he’s from San Francisco, he’s kind of a bounty hunter for assholes. So it seemed cool at the time.
Pick one song that represents the album the best and tell us why.
Jay: It’s going to be different for both of us I’m sure.
Chris: I think The Lies I Need represents the album really well.
Jay: I guess I would agree with that.
Chris: Because it’s got both of us singing on it. And we both contributed a lot to writing it. Jay wrote that song, and then I added parts.
Jay: We both wrote that song.
Chris: We wrote intricate musical parts to it also which we tried to do more on this record.
Jay: What’s funny to me is having written The Lies I Need three years ago. Hearing it now, it represents the last few years, at least for my life. And.. Wow, what happened. And now we’re back out here.
The first song you released of In The End was Cobblestones. It’s a really catchy song with a lot of hooks. Is that one of the qualities you’re looking for in a potential lead single?
Chris: That was Toby’s choice. Most people that I’ve showed the record to just latched on to that song first. For a single, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the best song on the album or sound like everything else on the album. But it should be the most immediately interesting. Because some songs, you’ll get into them later. Some songs you have to grow into and some songs you understand immediately. I think we have a lot of songs on this record that people will listen to at first and just think is ok, but after 10 listens their favourite song will change.
This tour marks the 10th anniversary of your band. In those years lot has changed in the music industry. Did that effect your band and in which way?
Jay: I don’t think so really. We we’re always going to do what we’re going to do anyways.
Chris: By the time we were a band there wasn’t much money to be earned with music anyway. People buy cds less and vinyl more. That’s about it.
I generally hear stories about how touring in Europe is usually more relaxed than touring in North America, in the sense that bands get offered a decent meal and other practical stuff like that. Do you agree?
Chris: You’d have to be a lot bigger band in the United States to get those things.
Jay: People give a shit more over here about bands like us.
But what’s the worst meal you ever got offered?
Chris: We got offered some things pretty bad. (laughs)
Jay: I’m pleading the fifth on that one.
Nothington is often mentioned alongside bands as Leatherface, Hot Water Music or The Lawrence Arms just to name a few. But are those bands influences or are there other bands of different genres that influence your music?
Jay: Those bands are definitely influences. Other genres… I’m all over the place from Hank Williams to Bob Dylan to Led Zeppelin.
Chris: Mostly for this band I’m just influenced by those ones, the ones from the punk rock scene.
Jay: I mean I would never compare ourselves to those ones you mentioned but…
Chris: I’m a huge Tom Petty fan but I don’t think he really influences my songwriting in this band very much. But if I was to write acoustic music I think it would.
How do you see the future for Nothington. Will it be more of a part time thing where you put out something every few years and tour on that, or do you want to go all out on the touring and recording cycle again?
Jay: The way I look at it, it depends on what people want. If the demand is there we’ll probably do it. If not, it might become part time, who knows.
Chris: We have a lot planned for this year. We have tours in Europe and in the United States planned. So this year will be busy but Jay is also right, it kind of depends on if people want to see us we’ll show up. But if not than we won’t.
So we have to keep booking you then.
Jay: Yeah. It’s a supply demand thing. If people want to see it, we’ll get out and do it.
Nothington is a San Francisco band. Is that something that’s important for your music, or is it reflected in the music in any way?
Jay: Chris has lived in the bay area his whole life. I’ve lived there for 15 years.
Chris: For me it used to be really important, it was a big source of pride to be affiliated with such a vibrant music scene. Because the bay area throughout the nineties when I was growing up was a really important influential punk rock music scene. From Swingin’ Utters to Rancid to The Mr. T Experience, just you know dozens of bands coming out of the Bay Area. So to be growing up listening to that and being influenced by that and then be a band from the Bay Area,it was cool.
If I visit San Francisco, what should I do?
Jay: Hemlock, 540.
Chris: He’s just naming bars (laughs). Don’t eat Hemlock because it’s poison and you’ll die. 540 is the bar that Jay works at and it’s cool. Or… do you work there?
Chris: Just go visit Jay, basically. Go hang out with Jay.
Jay: Or McKenzie’s, you can hang out with that bartender and a bunch of old people.
Chris: Or you could go see Coit Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Jay: And come visit me if you don’t want to do the touristy stuff.
In the near future there’s more touring. Do you have any plans for more writing or recording as well?
Jay: Not yet. I can’t believe In The End finally came out so I haven’t even thought about the writing process yet. I think by the end of this tour, it’s kind of already starting to light a fire under my ass. We’ll see where it goes.
Let’s take a few questions with just short answers to wrap up the interview. First one: Name one killer release of 2016.
Chris: I didn’t listen to music last year (laughs).
If we buy you a drink, what should we get you?
Jay: Light beer.
What’s your favourite Nothington song to play live?
Chris: The Lies I Need or Cobblestones for me. I like playing the new songs.
Jay: I really like playing The Lies I Need too. And I don’t think playing Where I Stand will ever get that old for me. The crowd reaction is always fun. After 10 years I still like playing it.
Is there a venue or festival is on your bucket list to play?
Jay: I’ve always wanted to play Reading and Leeds.
Chris: Yeah, that’s okay (laughs).
When is Trump’s nuclear war starting?
Jay: Probably soon.
Chris: He’ll be impeached soon.
Jay: We’re hoping by the time we get home that he’s impeached. So we have like 3 weeks but then again, Mike Pence will be in office.
Chris: We’re trying not to read the news.
Jay: We we’re glad to get out of town. If he’s not impeached we’re all doomed.
Is there anything else you want to plug or put out there?
Chris: We have a bunch of tour dates coming up in Europe and North America. So check those out. (below)
Allright. Thanks a lot for the chat, have fun on tour and congrats on the new album.