Mike Ragogna: Jackson, you must be amped about your single “We Ride” and that he band is getting their shot.
Jackson Guthy: Yeah, we’re really stoked! We’ve been working so hard, so it’s great to finally see everything materialize. “We Ride” shows our softer side. It’s a track we hope will demonstrate the diversity in our sound, since there are uptempo tracks in our repertoire.
MR: What is the band’s history, how did North Of Nine come together?
JG: I had the opportunity during my solo career of opening for a lot of huge bands such as Five Seconds of Summer and One Direction. During a tour with Cher Lloyd, I met Rob who is the drummer in North of Nine. Randy and I had been talking about this band idea for a while, but when Rob and I met, it started to come together. Rob and I were able to get creative and work with other musicians–the other guys in the band were the best of everyone we played with. This group just fits really well together. The band and I got along on every aspect.
MR: What is the writing process like? How do you all assign parts and come up with arrangements?
JG: I write all the lyrics and chords. The guys typically will create their own parts. Then we just jam on it and filter in what works and what doesn’t. It gets pretty exciting when we are all writing and playing together in the studio.
MR: How close of a band is North Of Nine? And what does that name reference
JG: We don’t have a long history together, because we are relatively new, but it seems as if we have playing together forever sometimes. I am sure there will be bumps along the way. Getting to know each other and enjoying the time we spend writing and playing has really created a bond. We are becoming better friends every day.
About the name–A lot of the name derives from my mom. She saw an astrologer when I was born, and it turns out that I was born in the same year that all nine planets were aligned. When she told me that story, I thought it was really cool. My mom also said, a really important part of life is finding your true north, the one thing you are striving for, and that has always resonated with me, and helped me along the way.
MR: Which brings us to your association with Randy Jackson. So how did the band come to his attention? Similar first and last names?
JG: I have been working with Randy for almost two years now. I met with him after I performed on the Ellen show the last time. Randy has been amazing. I have been blessed to work with a lot of amazing people. Randy has let me be free with my creative side, which has led me to some of my favorite ideas. I have a very good feeling where everything is going, and I’m excited for the future with myself, as well as North of Nine.
MR: What is the most influential thing he taught you or what did he suggest that helps the band as it moves forward?
JG: A really big thing with this process is just learning how to work with one another. Also, compromising with things. Randy is one of the most respected producers and songwriters in music – and he was long before American Idol. He has great instincts, and really is able to help us, as a band, take our music and our ideas to another level. He can spot a song and a melody line like no one else.
MR: Do you find that having a recording deal and being endorsed by such a powerful music industry icon affects how the band operates or proceeds with creating and recording music? By the way, what is the recording process like?
JG: Names are names, but at the end of the day, it is who has the same vision, and wants the same goal for the band and me, and that is Randy. We really have a great creative understanding. But you know it is humbling that we have the amazing support that we do. We will NOT disappoint. The recording process is fun. We like to keep the music about the music. To the people who think it is a job, we do not think it is a job. We love making and recording music for our fans. We record everything at once to get a live take (vocals, instruments, etc.) then we sit back and listen to it and make any changes we want. Then each of us record our own instruments individually, giving us time to be creative with our work. Then we finish with the vocals. Before mixing and mastering.
MR: In yours or the band’s opinion, are there early musical heroes that have influenced the sound of the band and who are those heroes?
JG: I think we have a broad range of music that we like. It really stems a lot where we come from. We are all from different places around the country, but a few names we all like are, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Coldplay.
MR: Technically, you’re not new artists, but what advice do you have for contemporaries? What would you suggest to new artists?
JG: You get said “NO” to a lot. Also, a lot of ups and downs, good and bad times. At the end of that is the ride and that is what helps you push that bolder up the mountain, because the view at the top is amazing, and it is worth the journey. Don’t let people tell you who or what you should be. Just keep writing the songs, and when the right one comes along, you will hear it. That’s when you know it is time. It’s time for NINE.
MR: [laughs] Jackson, how did your view of how to approach music and your own creativity evolve from the days of being a solo artist to being a member of a band?
JG: Firstly, I have always written songs, and have played piano since I was four-years-old. So, that’s how I work and that hasn’t changed…the ideas come out of my fingers onto the keys. That was the beginning. The label I was with as a solo artist really wanted me to be a teen guy–and I kept trying to make that work. But I really felt as if I’d be more creative with a band. And now there is this group to bounce off of–and it’s synergistic–we are greater than the sum of our parts. Music is constantly evolving. You will learn new things on the way and there will be battles and changes. At the end of the day, you cannot lose yourself because you’re the only reason why people care about the music. What makes you, you, is what you put into it the most. If you let too many people change you based on what will sell, you may get a return or feel happy, but it will be short-lived. I dream of the day when I will be 70-years-old and still playing sold out shows and writing music. Also, inspiring people and helping them get through a rough time.
MR: What would the ideal future for the band look like?
JG: Keep being more and more creative. Let the music evolve–the melodies and lyrics. Hopefully, people will hear the meaning behind the songs, and they can find that our music helps them through life. I’ve been blessed with these incredible bandmates, and people who believe in us, so we just want to make everyone proud.