How do you define a complete sonic reintroduction to a band that hasn't released anything in six years? Now, Now's KC Dalager and Brad Hale found themselves at a loss for words.
“I hate the expression ‘rebirth,’” Dalager laughs, “but it feels … baptismal, in some way.”
Both descriptors invoke context for Saved, the first record from the Minnesota indie rock act since 2012. Seeing angels, kissing sinners, and stepping into holy water — throughout Saved, Dalager takes us on an ethereal and metaphysical journey of self-discovery, away from the self-doubt that defined their previous records.
“I wanted to start completely over,” Dalager remembers. “Whenever I thought about following up Threads, I didn’t like that idea. Who would I be writing that for?”
The band’s 2012 LP gave them a breakthrough, but as Dalager describes, the prevailing narrative was unsustainable. “I was sick of myself, always writing about someone hurting my feelings,” she says. “I wanted to move on.”
Saved makes good on this desire. Here, the band takes to the road, moving through places in time, finding themselves anew both emotionally and physically. One such place was our fair state in quintessential form.
“My grandparents used to live in Arizona,” Dalager says. “Some really pivotal moments in my life were spent with them. A lot of the pain I’ve felt in my life has come from the loss of my grandpa. It’s something I still struggle with.”
“Back to the summer we all drove down to Arizona,” the band sings on “Arizona,” “back to the start of it all.” “[That song is] about getting back to what’s important for me,” Dalager says, “not running from things that hurt.”
In choosing vigilance, Now, Now flip the script on their body of work. Saved sheds a new light of resolve on their previous brokenhearted musings. Suddenly, the sonic transformation of the new record makes perfect sense, even nirvanic in nature. “For me,” Dalager explains, “It’s about, ‘How do I protect the emotion of the song while changing everything else about it?’ It’s okay to do as long as you protect what the song means to you.”
The feeling of sea change gave Hale a similar resolution. “It’s scary but also freeing in a way,” he says, musing on his exploration of new production styles and sounds. “It opened up a lot of doors that I was scared to open before.”
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This mutual feeling of freedom has affected Now, Now both in the studio and on stage. “Every other time we’ve played shows, up until the new stuff, I’ve been very kept to myself,” Dalager says. Every other time, mind you, includes performing on Fallon, stadium gigs opening for Paramore before 18,000 people, and near-endless touring throughout 2012 and 2013. “But I feel incredibly connected to these songs, and I think it’s important to share those feelings with other people ... I’m not ashamed to say I feel a certain way.”
“We’re never going to have a perfect answer, out of experience,” Hale says. He’s describing the evolution of Now, Now’s live show for the upcoming U.S. tour, trying to strike a balance between the rock-oriented sound of Threads with the pop-minded sensibility of Saved. “But that’s good, because I’m always learning something about how to make it better.”
As time passes, Now, Now become more honest with themselves, defining their own reality, and putting life to tape on their own terms: tasting a bit of sweet salvation.
Now, Now play the Rebel Lounge, 2301 East Indian School Road, on Monday, July 23. Tickets are $13-$15 at therebellounge.com.