Needles//Pins Mix It Up

Our interview with Needles//Pins:
Photo by Ryan Wagner

The aggressive rock of Needles//Pins has burned strong for five years, and the band just found some new kindling. Hitting the studio for their new record Good Night, Tomorrow, the band took more time to plan things out and added new sounds in the process. Earning a new member along the way and evolving their sound as a whole the band are set to make their next five years even more impressive. Catching up with member Adam Ess as the band prepared for their Sled Island set, Ess talked taking things slow, finding new members and the band’s recent move to Mint Records.

Northern Transmissions: What was it like working with Jesse Gander and what did they bring to the album? I heard he’s also an unofficial member now?

Adam Ess: We made choice to work with Jesse for the third record for a number of reasons. We recorded the first two records at the same studio so we wanted to go somewhere else. Obviously Jesse’s resume speaks for itself and he was just a pal and fan, so it seemed like a good decision. He’s got his own style and for this record the song writing was a bit different, we were moving away from that kind of lo-fi power pop, punk thing. He increased that because he’s good at suggesting instrumentation and other things to do besides just guitar bass and drums. He’s with the band now, it’s more official than unofficial. The shows we had once he came on was more a matter of one’s he could do and one’s he couldn’t because of his schedule, but going forward it’s going to be a regular thing. He played a lot of keys on the record, which is one of the main reasons he’s doing it live as well now too.

NT: What did you want to change moving into this third album to best evolve?

AE: It wasn’t anything conscious. The way we did the record lent itself to that kind of change. The first to LPs we did were in five-day shots, so they were all made in those five-day sessions. When we made the decision to go with Jesse we also made the decision to do it very piece-meal. We went in with three songs, wrote more and then went in, so it took a year and half. We got to focus four days at a time on only three songs. It’s often the case that once you’re done recording, you’re not done. We gave the songs room and listened to them, being able to go back and have that room allowed the record to take shape in a way it might not have in a five day chunk.

NT: I hear your video for ‘Miracle’ was actually shot in your jam space, how did you guys manage that and how was that process?

AE: That was done over two days, I wasn’t there for the first setup day. They worked 14 hours doing that set design, turning the room into a bomb shelter, and the next day was another 12 hours or so to make the video. It was a major conversion to that room but they did a really fantastic job and it looked incredible.

NT: How did your deal with Mint Records come about and has it shifted things for you at all?

AE: We were in the studio with Jesse talking about this kind of thing, and one of the things we wanted to do with this record was have a Canadian label do it as well. The last record came out only on Dirt Cult which is based out of Portland and they’re still handling the American release. But with the dollar and postage rates, they weren’t selling a lot of records to Canadians which is our major fan base. We wanted to have a good label behind it in Canada so people could get their hands on it and not have to pay 25$ bucks. We were talking with Jesse and he said “Why don’t you talk to Mint.” We met with them, talked about it and it just happened. It’s nice because it’s just their job, Ryan is working in their all week, whereas with Dirt Cult it’s his hobby, a labour love. They have all this time which has helped the efficiency of it all.

NT: You got to take your time a lot more on this record, how do you feel that shaped the final product?

AE: That was a really important thing. I thought whether or not they took shape because of how we did it or if they would’ve happened anyway. There’s a mix of different songs on the record. It’s not like the less-punky songs were done in a different batch. It was nice to have these sessions because we heard what the record was sounding like and brought that to the next batch of songs. It was nice to have a reference point all of the time. There’s sometimes that lack of cohesion where you can hear the different sessions but we didn’t have that. It’s a gamble but it worked out for us in this case.

NT: Five years deep into the band, what’s coming up next?

AE: We’ve got our hometown release show on the 30th of June, then shows in Seattle and Portland. Starting in August we have US dates and then Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. I also teach college so during the school year I’m occupied. Next summer I have off from work so the plan is tour Europe then as well.

Words by Owen Maxwell