Between making it to class, getting homework done and working jobs, St. Thomas junior Jim Brenk and his four band mates still find time to play their own brand of highly technical melodic death metal in their band, Northsky.
Initially formed in high school as a way to play in a talent show, the band eventually formed core members and began writing original songs. All five members are either enrolled in different colleges or have already graduated. They have played numerous shows in the Twin Cities, recorded four of their nine original songs and are driven by having fun shredding through one show at a time.
TommieMedia sat down with drummer Jim Brenk and guitarist Chris Spah to get the lowdown on Northsky.
How long has Northsky been together?
JB: There has been the core three, which is me, Chris and our singer Matt [who] have been playing together since 10th grade in high school. It all started because they wanted to do the talent show at the Spring Lake Park High School and just be a joke and [be] ridiculous. Then we started morphing into some covers and then into our own stuff eventually.
What do you consider the genre of music you play?
JB: I would say melodic death metal. I’m really influenced by the Finnish and Scandinavian melodic death metal. Some of our biggest influences are from Finland. If we could make our own genre I would call us American melodic death metal.
How many shows do you try to play a month?
JB: We try and shoot for at least one a month. It’s tough because we’re all still in different schools right now.
What venues have you played in the Twin Cities?
JB: We’ve played at the Varsity Theater a couple times. We’ve played at the Dinkytowner, Trocaderos and in Duluth. I think the biggest crowd we’ve ever played for was at Spring Lake Park High School. It was about 300 people.
With all the band members at their respective schools, how often are you able to get together and practice?
JB: Almost once a week. It’s been a little scarce just trying to get on the school schedule now. When we have a show, we go out of our way to triple prepare.
Do you have plans to record new material?
CS: We have nine original songs and four of them are recorded. We want to get the other ones down, but we perform the other ones on a regular basis so people know them and we have videos of them on YouTube and our MySpace.
What’s the writing process like when creating new songs?
JB: We got it kind of down to what we’re use to where my brother [guitarist, Mike Brenk] does a lot of the original formatting of the songs. He’ll come up with something in his head and then him and Chris will collaborate on where it should go. It’s relatively separate. It’s individual in the sense that a person will come with the idea, but it’s a band effort to say ‘yeah’ or ‘Let’s work on that.’
Does the lyrical content follow a certain theme?
JB: I would say the theme is stories. Every song Matt [Rengo, lead singer] writes is like a story. That’s really how we chose to look at all of our music. For the most part, each individual song is its own story and I know that in my head it really helps me to write my part because we try and think of it as ‘how does this music make you feel?’
For a lot of people there is a stigma around metal music and many people will immediately say, ‘I don’t understand what they are saying’ or ‘This is just noise.’ What aspects of metal attract you to the genre? Why do you chose metal?
CS: Other genres are too boring to play.
JB: Yeah, it comes down to that. I seriously have conversations with people about this all the time because I’m a huge music buff. I think it’s just ear training. I’ve listened to metal since I was younger, so I know what they’re saying even though someone who hasn’t listened to it won’t. Why metal? Because it’s fun; it’s whatever you want it to be. I think metal is really, really diverse.
What are the future goals for Northsky?
JB: I think it’s really just one show at a time. We’re still writing new songs. I’d really like to get a CD done one way or another.
CS: If we could make money off this that would be the coolest thing ever, but just playing shows and all of that is just fun. I want to keep doing that as long as possible.
Matt Linden can be reached at email@example.com