INTERVIEW with Needles//Pins’ Adam Solomonian
It seemed like only a matter of time before beloved Vancouver power-trash trio Needles//Pins aligned with the city’s most beloved independent label, Mint Records. The partnership came to fruition at the end of last month when Mint and Portland’s Dirt Cult Records jointly released the band’s third album, Good Night, Tomorrow.
This time, Needles//Pins traded the familiarity of the Noise Floor Recording Studio where Jordan Koop produced their previous two full-lengths, 12:34 (2012) and Shamebirds (2014), for Jesse Gander’s studio, Rain City Recorders. Combined, Koop and Gander have produced some of the city’s most successful musical exports of the past several years including Wolf Parade, You Say Party, the Courtneys, Bison, Japandroids, White Lung, and the Pack A.D.
Following a recent string of shows that included an album release at SBC Restaurant and sets at Sled Island, Ottawa Explosion, and the Smugglers’ reunion at the Commodore Ballroom, Needles//Pins are slated to open for Australian garage punks Royal Headache this Tuesday, July 18th at the Cobalt. Vancouver Weekly got in touch with Needles//Pins singer/guitarist Adam Solomonian to discuss the band’s new album and overall experience since joining the Mint family.
Vancouver Weekly: You recorded Shamebirds at the Noise Floor with Jordan Koop but switched to Rain City with Jesse Gander for Good Night, Tomorrow. How did the two experiences compare? How did Koop and Gander differ in their approaches?
Adam Solomonian: We actually recorded two LPs with Jordan at two different Noise Floor locations. It’s really hard to say what the differences and similarities were because those will be as much a result of us changing as a band from recording to recording as it is from studio to studio. They definitely each have their own styles. Jordan is much more in the Albini vein of record production. I think Jesse goes for a bit more production in his records. I haven’t actually heard anything Jordan has done in a while, I don’t think. Both are excellent at what they do.
VW: What was the best input or advice each of them gave the band? Did they each help you bring out something different in yourselves or highlight a different strength?
AS: They both share a really good quality in terms of pushing you to do your best without being really overbearing or anything. I think that is a really hard thing to do.
VW: Jesse has also been playing synth in the band whenever he has a break in his production schedule. How has adjusting to having a fourth member been going?
AS: Keyboards, ya. It’s been great so far. He is a perfect fit, and we are stoked to have him in the band. Definitely an adjustment but one we are excited to make!
VW: Along with keyboards, you’ve brought in acoustic guitar, piano, and strings on the new album. As much as you wanted to freshen up your sound, were you at any point apprehensive about changing it up too much? Many bands suffer from bloat when they bring in new toys or want to go in new directions. Were you careful to rein yourselves in?
AS: No strings but ya, some different instrumentation. Keys and acoustic guitar primarily. I don’t think there was any apprehension. We didn’t force anything, and ya, we knew when enough was enough, I think. Maybe they will let me put harmonica on the next one finally, haha.
VW: Your show with the Smugglers last May at the Commodore seemed like a can’t-miss for Mint loyalists and members of the Mint family, which you are now. How did the night go for you? Did you meet a lot of Mint alumni? Did the night in any way feel like an unofficial welcome party to the label?
AS: It was an incredible night. Was good to meet the Smugglers folks and everyone else involved in the show. Meeting the Muffs was unreal. I wouldn’t say it felt like a welcome party or anything like that, haha, but it definitely had a cool vibe to it. Everyone was so happy and positive. Was great to be a part of that.
VW: Have Needles//Pins ever played such a venue as large as the Commodore? How did you feel when you stepped offstage? Did you feel more confident than ever, ready to take on bigger crowds than you usually play to?
AS: No way. That was by far the biggest show we have ever played. Haha, I don’t know if it boosted confidence or anything, but ya, it was a very cool experience to play there. Bucket list for sure. Very grateful for the opportunity.
VW: Have you noticed any changes in the crowds at your shows since you signed with Mint?
AS: Good question. I think there’s always a mix of familiar and new faces at our shows. It’s great, and ya, if the Mint relationship brings new people in, then that’s awesome.
VW: Has being associated with Mint changed your experiences at festivals like Sled Island and Ottawa Explosion? Who or how many people show up to your sets? How other musicians and industry people interact with you?
AS: I wouldn’t say so. Calgary and Ottawa have always been really good to us, and we have always done well in those towns.
VW: The band has been hitting the media rounds hard for the new record. Did you feel more prepared to do press this time? What touring more extensively, like your big coast-to-coast US tour coming up?
AS: The tour is only through the Midwest and the East Coast, places we have never been before which is cool. We haven’t really been involved in the media and press stuff. Both Mint and Dirt Cult are awesome at pushing their releases, so we have benefitted from that. But ya, I think for this record we wanted to make sure it got out there, in particular to radio outlets and for review, etc. It’s something we have never particularly focused on before, but it’s certainly important in some regards.
VW: You’ve released music on Vancouver’s Kingfisher Bluez before, but what does it mean to you to be signed to one of the city’s longest-running labels? Do you feel this partnership has been a long time coming? As beloved as you’ve been in Vancouver for the past several years, do you feel more connected to the local music scene than ever now?
AS: Oh, it’s a major honour for sure. Not only one of the city’s longest-running but one of the longest-running indie labels in North America period! I don’t think I feel more connected or anything; we have been around for a while now, haha. But it’s great to work with Mint.
VW: Finally, Royal Headache is one of the most hyped punk shows of its size happening in Vancouver I can remember in quite some time. Besides them, what band were you most excited to have ever played with?
AS: Ya, that’ll be a good one. I just listened to them for the first time this morning, and they are really great. Should be an excellent show. We have never particularly been a band that has sought out opening slots for like big out-of-town acts or anything. I mean, we have certainly done that from time to time, but it is not like something we strive to do as a band – get these kind of gigs. We generally do our own shows. Honestly, I feel just as honoured to play with our friends’ bands or other locals just as much as some big out-of-town hyped touring band or something. Even more so, really.