Pointing True North; An interview with Benjamin Lieber of Head North

Epiphanies are part of the human experience that ignites growth and understanding along life’s path. That’s not to say change and growth aren’t painful, but atrophy or pursuing the wrong direction comes at a significant cost too – dissatisfaction, slipping into undesirable habits, etc.

After a few years of touring and a handful of releases, including a split for SideOneDummy with Microwaves, Buffalo, New York’s Head North realized that they were feeling discomfort with trying too hard to force themselves into a specific mold and resolved that a change was necessary. The band refocused their songcraft, resulting in a sonic shift that sent them in pursuit of a more creative and atmospheric direction.

“The sonic change was deliberate but I don’t believe it was fully intentional; we always felt like we were trying too hard when making music, and I think with this record we finally figured out how to let that go and just let it naturally flow out, ending in a different, but better, result,” Head North drummer Benjamin Lieber admits.

That result is their recent debut LP, The Last Lining Man Alive Ever In The History Of The World, which was released June 2, and produced and mixed by Brett Romnes (I Am the Avalanche) and mastered by Jesse Cannon (Animal Collective, Man Overboard).

“[Romnes] was the real visionary behind a lot of the abstract [sounds] on this record. He had great, left-field ideas that we dug, and he also was extremely receptive to any small, weird idea we would have along the way, not dismissing it, but instead jumping on it with exuberance and energy. That made a huge difference in this recording process.”

The resulting LP is a loose concept album that takes place in an alternative universe where God and love are forbidden, and features personal narratives told through the perspective of principal songwriters Lieber, Brent Marton, and Alex Matos

“It does not strictly stick to a storyline, but rather weaves in and out between a story and [our] personal life experiences,” Lieber says. “They have much to do with each other though, and I think that we had to live that part of our lives, before we could write about it, in order for the story to be able to be told correctly. It was frustrating during [that time], but looking back it’s a beautiful balance.  “The response has been incredible,” he adds. “Apart from a few people at each show, I’d say this is an entirely new demographic of people for us, which is awesome. It gives us a fresh opportunity to present ourselves in our best fashion. It’s been really cool.”

The band recently released a video for “Pulse,” which demonstrates their new, more daring approach.

“It’s about being so entangled with another person that you feel they start to consume you as a person and you struggle to identify your own footing anymore. [It’s] the craziest, most left-field thing we’ve ever created so we wanted the video to reflect that. There’s definitely a few elements of the lyrical message in there, though.”

With these big changes behind them, Lieber says that the band’s path ahead is clearer and simpler.

“[We just want] to tour as much as we can and create some beautiful art along the way.” (Tim Anderl)