A Look Back With Matt Northrup As He Says ‘Wassup!’ To Summer and Charlottesville

Apr 27th, 2012 | By | Category: Feature, Sounds
Matt Northrup

Greensboro musician Matt Northrup (Photo by Jordan Owens)

This week I had a correspondence with current WUAG music director and Full Spectrum Records artist Matt Northrup. He touched on a number of things from his bands (Casual Curious, Hidden Lake Park, Ruler, and Mutant League), solo work, and his upcoming move to Charlottesville. He also shared a wonderful retrospective of his time in Greensboro.

So word on the street is that you’re leaving Greensboro for Charlottesville, Virginia. What are some of your best memories of this city musically and otherwise?

Really too many to count, I’ve had such a great time here. I think Greensborofest 2011 was a really great moment for the town. Record Store Day 2010 was really awesome too.  As lame as this sounds, the best memories I’ll have of this city will really be the many great people I have met here. I grew up in Nags Head, NC, and had no idea what it was like to be part of a music community until I got here. Everybody has been insanely supportive from the moment I got here, and I’ve never felt more comfortable in a town. My hopes are that Charlottesville is the same way, but it is going to be hard to stack up to Greensboro.

How are your current bands (Casual Curious and Mutant League) going to be different without you? Have you worked out details with the members and helped out any with the transition?

Mutant League has been surviving without me for over a year now, so they’ll probably be fine when I move. As of right now, the plan is for me to keep playing with Casual Curious. I think we’ll probably just end up doing less Greensboro shows. I’m actually going to record a bunch of bass tracks next week for our new record, so at the very least I’ll be on the new album.  Lee’s the driving force behind that though, so maybe he’ll just replace me with another sampler or something.

I hear that you’re throwing a big going away bash at CFBG this coming Tuesday. What can you tell us about that?

The going away bash is happening on May 1st. It’s a WUAG event with a bunch of my favorite Greensboro bands, and a couple of awesome out-of-town bands.  Hume and The Dreebs are the traveling acts, and they are so good. The locals are Jenny Besetzt, Mutant League, Black Santa, and Romantic Animal. The early show is starting at 5pm at CFBG and the late show is starting at 9pm at The Blind Tiger. It’s all free, and there’s going to be free food if you get there for the early show.

What can you tell us about your music projects over your time in Greensboro? What other acts have you played with besides Casual Curious and Mutant League?

The first Greensboro band I was in was called Ruler. We only played a few shows, but it was probably one of the best times I’ve ever had playing music. Sort of crazy noise rock stuff. Zack (the drummer/best bro) and I really like Deerhoof and Black Dice, and I think we bridged the gap pretty well with Ruler.

I was in Mutant League from 2009 until 2011. Tyler is really the driving force behind that project. Tyler’s one of those workhorse musicians that can write 20 songs in a week, and they’ll all be better than anything I could write in a year. I think Mutant League has always really been Tyler’s thing, even though he might never claim it. I had a lot of fun playing with those guys though, and am super proud of the stuff we produced.

Reed asked me to be in Hidden Lake Park sometime over the course of us living together. I only played with him for a bit, but I learned how to use my delay pedals really well over the course of that time.

Lee and I have been really tight for a long time and had always wanted to be in a band together. He asked me to play bass in Casual Curious after James moved away. The vibes are so right in this band, and I always feel so good about it.

"Lucky Stumbles"

Northrup's lastest release "Lucky Stumbles" features an interactive package design that folds into a lantern. (Images from Northrup's Bandcamp page)

Your solo work is prolific. Do you plan to carry on with that in Charlottesville?

Yeah, definitely! The solo work is mostly for me, so it will come out at whatever pace I decide. I’ve gotten labeled as prolific, but it doesn’t really feel like it to me. Right now I don’t have plans for touring, but I just finished up another record for a label from Texas that should be out soon.

Who are some of the musicians (locally or globally) that influence you in what you do as a solo artist?

Mort Garson, Cluster, Robert Fripp. I’m sort of a synth guy without a synthesizer. I guess I have to give Manuel Gottsching a shout out. I saw him like 6 years ago before I knew who he was and thought it was really boring. I guess I didn’t really drone out as hard then, but I still think I would think it’s boring if I saw it today. There were a bunch of people hippie-dancing to it which was pretty funny to watch. I actually saw Battles the next day and they had “E2-E4” playing as they were setting up. They must have been at the show!

Can you name a couple of Triad (Greensboro and Winston-Salem) bands that you will miss seeing playing live?

I’m working as a concert promoter in Charlottesville, so I hope that many Greensboro bands will come see me and I won’t have to miss them at all! That said, it probably isn’t realistic for Invisible to come play Charlottesville anytime soon, so I probably won’t see them for a while. I shared a practice space with them for a few years, and it was really cool being in a warehouse with all of Mark’s crazy inventions. Mark’s space is like Elsewhere for music nerds.

As you look back in your time in Greensboro, what are you going to miss the most?

Jack’s Corner. If anyone wants my meal platter card, hit me up.

What was the last record you listened to that blew your mind? (Or do you have a current favorite album …)

Everybody in Casual Curious got to listen to the new Reptar record on our tour with them, and it is so good! I’m listening to these jams that a guy in Asheville sent me and they are really incredible. Dude’s name is Zach Smith and he plays as Difference Clouds. Super mellowed out synth stuff. At this moment, right now Difference Clouds is my favorite. I did get a really awesome WAR album at CFBG last Saturday. That jam was really good. New Black Dice is way sick too, super clubby and weird. Sorry, this is getting sort of out of hand. Let’s just say Difference Clouds.

You can help send Northrup off Tuesday, May 1st at CFBG and The Blind Tiger at WUAG Presents: WASSUP SUMMER. All the fun begins at 5pm. You can buy Northrup’s latest release “Lucky Stumbles” – which features an unusual folding lantern case – on his Bandcamp page along with other previous releases.

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