A.V. Club Milwaukee – Northern Room Feature

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Northern Room reunites for Pablove Benefit Concert

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With the return of the Pablove Benefit Concert at Turner Hall Ballroom on Saturday, January 26, there’s sure to be plenty of emotion as Milwaukee comes together to fight childhood cancer. Bolstering the event are four local bands, including alt-rock hometown favorite Northern Room, performing its first show since 2008.

When Pablove organizers reached out to Northern Room to reunite, the band didn’t take long to jump at the opportunity. “The timing of everything just worked out that we were getting back together anyway to go in the studio,” says singer Andrew Jonathan. “So the show just coincided with our studio reunion, now being turned into a public reunion at Turner for the Pablove show. It’s a natural thing that came together.”

For Jonathan and the other members of Northern Room—Michael Morgan, Micah Olla, and Tony Olla—the decision to return to the studio to record a new song is a couple years in the making. They ultimately decided on “Sweet Lord,” a song they used to play live but hadn’t previously recorded. “It’s been special to us, and we want to capture it,” says Morgan.

While the band members have gotten busier with jobs and families, they’ve managed to stay in contact, and found it easy to fit back into the group. “To be in the same room with them and to be able to converse and kind of reignite our friendships… that’s really exciting for me,” says Jonathan. “It’s great that even when we were in Northern Room, it always felt like the music came second and our relationships came first. We’re four emotional dudes, so the friendships are really important to us. It’s great to be able to experience that again.”

While they haven’t played together in a while, Jonathan doesn’t think it will be hard to get back to a tight rocking unit. “I think it’ll be like riding a bike—you don’t forget, and we’ll probably surprise ourselves with how much we actually do remember. I think it’s making sure the fine-tuning is there, along with all those little things that make a live sound really tight. But I don’t think it’ll be very difficult for us.”

While there’s certainly room for surprises during the Pablove show, the band plans to stick to the basics. “I think we’re going to focus on old-school Northern Room and how we perform the songs and get those as fine-tuned as we can, and make sure it’s the best time for everyone,” says Jonathan.

Playing Pablove is a special event for the band in many ways. Jonathan has known founder Jeff Castelaz for more than a decade. “To be part of his life, even if it’s from a distance, and somehow being involved in the bigger picture of the Pablove Foundation and childhood cancer… it’s an honor to be part of the atmosphere of support of a tragic disease, especially for youth,” says Jonathan.

Likewise, Pablove organizer Scott Ziel is grateful to have the band play the event. “The guys in the band have big hearts; they’re family guys that know how precious the life of a small child is, and they wanted to further the cause of researching a cure for childhood cancer. Their participation, along with The Delta Routine, The Championship, and Kane Place Record Club makes the Pablove 4 Benefit a night not to be missed,” says Ziel.

Fellow organizer Doug Johnson also believes the reunion will be a highlight of Milwaukee music in 2013, and looks forward to bringing the band’s “intricate and all-encompassing music to Turner Hall.”

The band doesn’t have further plans, but it won’t totally rule out more shows. “It’ll always be up in the air, but we’ll always have a little part of Northern Room in our blood. So there’s always that possibility,” says Jonathan.

For now, the band is excited to live in the moment. “We’re deeply excited to see our fans again and possibly make new fans, and excited to meet the bands we’re playing with as well,” says Jonathan. “We’re excited to get back on the stage and excited to get in the studio and put some Northern Room back into the masses.”