Northward have only been around for a few months and have already garnered attention from all over the world. After all, a supergroup of sorts with Nightwish vocalist Floor Jansen and Pagan’s Mind mastermind Jørn Viggo Lofstad, what’s not to be excited about? After the release of While Love Died and the announcement of their self-titled debut, the musicianship, songwriting quality and overall professionalism of the band had peaked the interest of fans of both bands alike to new extents, especially through the symbolism and the production quality of the music video. Managing to pull together over 250,000 views for the band’s first video, it’s no wonder why they’re so popular and engaging. The interview conducted with Lofstad kicked off straight away in a courteous manner, allowing for further insight into the history, writing process and how Northward came together in the first place.
“After meeting at a festival in 2007, Floor and I performed together on stage, and the chemistry between us clicked almost immediately,” Lofstad explained. “We decided to see how our songwriting chemistry would develop and if there was any there, and as we began to meet more and more we began writing what is now “Northward”.”
When it came to the band, it wasn’t just Lofstad contributing to the musical aspect and Jansen writing her own lyrics, they both had a part in the songwriting process. “We came together in 2008, spending long weekends listening, writing, bouncing off of each other, utilizing that chemistry we had together and essentially feeding off of it.”
Whilst it’s been almost 10 years since they first got together and wrote the record, the idea of coming back and bringing this record to fruition only last year. Excitedly, Lofstad continued, “I got a call from Floor last year to revitalize the project and I was more than excited to get it back together!”
When it came to writing the upcoming self-titled Northward record, the influences from Jansen and Lofstad didn’t necessarily affect their songwriting. “If you’re talking specifics, for us it’d be more the bands we group up with; for myself it would be bands like Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Dio, and Van Halen, and for Floor it was a lot more it was bands like Alter Bridge and Foo Fighters; ironically enough, the original plan for Drifting Islands was to have Mark Tremonti perform the duet with Jansen (to which he agreed), but when we came back together, one of her bucket list goals was to sing a duet with her younger sister Irene Jansen, and that’s how the track came together,” Lofstad remarks.
The upcoming album is definitely one of the more diverse Rock albums to come out in recent years, mixed with Power Ballads and Old-School heavy Rock n’ Roll. When asked about the reasoning behind the self-titled track Northward, Lofstad explains “Think about the track as like Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden; this was the only song on the album that was rewritten, and that was only lyrically.”
Delving into the lyrical aspect of Northward and the history behind the name, “we felt that we weren’t truly satisfied with the initial name of this project, and we wanted to change it to something that was more personal to us. Floor had recently moved to Sweden, her life was literally going ‘Northward’, moving to a different country, as well as joining Finnish Metal band Nightwish, she felt that the name ‘Northward’ suits her overall lifestyle, and me being from Norway, I wholeheartedly supported the idea of naming our band and our album.”
After listening to Northward’s upcoming album, there was one song that really stands out the most out of the variety, and it was the 7th track on the album, Big Boy. When asked about whether or not Lofstad decided to use an Extended Ranged Instrument, he explains that “actually, when it came to writing this song, the original working title was ‘Disco Chugs’, as you’d know, it was a very chug influenced track filled with disco beats, so the name suited well,” laughed Lofstad. “As opposed to an Extended Ranged Instrument, I was actually dabbling with this Whammy Pedal, the Digitech Whammy, and I started playing those introduction chugs, and thought of how it would sound if I used the whammy to go an octave lower, and it turned out better than I expected!”
Although Jansen and Lofstad wrote the album by themselves, they brought in a few session members to perform on the album. “Let’s start with drummers; we brought in Pagan’s Mind drummer Stian Kristoffersen, who performed on 4 tracks, and Django Nilsen on the other 6 tracks, who is a close personal friend of mine and session drummer. When we came up with the project, I had originally asked TNT bass player Morty Black, and when we came back to him last year with the opportunity he was still very interested!”
When asked about the future of Northward after this record, Lofstad wasn’t afraid to speak the truth, whilst also throwing in the possibilities of it happening in the future. “The plan 10 years ago when we formed Northward, was that we would eventually play shows together. However, Floor’s first project After Forever had disbanded and ReVamp had formed, so we just didn’t have time.”
Putting a little bright light on the future of Northward, fan’s can be sure to expect that this won’t be the only time this project comes together. “Floor has an extremely tight schedule; having the next two years already planned out, on top of having an 18 month old baby girl with husband Hannes van Dahl, who obviously need’s a lot of care. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen! Maybe in 2 or 3 years we’ll get back together for another album and think about doing some one-off shows.”
Jørn Viggo Lofstad is definitely one of the most innovative minds in the rock and metal history, pieced together with one of the best vocalists on the planet, Floor Jansen, they created one of the best bands to come out in a long while, as well as a phenomenal collection of enchanting, beautiful and classic rock influenced songs that make up their outstanding self-titled debut, “Northward”.