Music Profile | Needles//Pins

It's a sleepy afternoon in Vancouver when ION sits down with Needles//Pins guitarist-vocalist Adam Solomonian to discuss Good Night, Tomorrow, his band's third full-length recording. As the mid-spring sun pours down on a coffee shop's wood-and-concrete patio, a butterfly gently lands on the punk rocker's shoulder to get an earful of conversation. "Is that a good luck thing?" the musician wonders before the cream-winged eavesdropper flutters off towards its next stop.

It's an idyllic outdoor scene, but one that is off-set by Good Night, Tomorrow 's often water-logged narratives. Whether Solomonian is screaming about the rain beating against the West Coast on de facto title cut "Good Night," or praying for a redemptive downpour on "So Long," Needles//Pins' latest song cycle is drenched in dour imagery. Almost too perfectly, it was tracked at a local studio called Rain City Recorders.

"I think it's just an environmental thing. It's just such a good description for a lot of things that have to do with Vancouver, " the frontman says of the recurring theme, though he admits that local cloud coverage wasn't the only thing hanging heavy over him throughout the writing period for Good Night, Tomorrow. "That whole record is about my insomnia....One of the things that often happens when you lie awake is that you listen to the rain."

As such, the record's fittingly-titled "Sleep" is a perfect storm of anthemic, Replacements-grade guitar hooks and Solomonian's red-eyed, ragged-cry inspection of fractured relationships and faded memories."It gets very psychological, obviously, because you just start getting terrified about not sleeping," he says of being afflicted by insomnia, something he's trying to overcome. " I've never been a good sleeper;  I'm a restless, light sleeper, but [insomnia] gets caught up in a whole bunch of other things. You can't shut your brain off."

A lack of sleep was clouding Solomonian thoughts while working on the 12-song set with longtime partners Tony Dubroy (bass) and Macey Budgell (drums), but Good Night, Tomorrow ended up becoming the most ambitious Needles//Pins project yet.

Scrappy pop-punk hooks still bursts from the speakers on tracks "Pressure Points," but the band are pushing themselves beyond the comfort zone they established on previous LPs. Album opener "Good Night,"  for instance, muscles into a hard-edged red herring of a post-hardcore riff before getting into familiarly peppy territory; "Tomorrow" closes things out with a distorted, dust bowl swing. Most noticeably, though, is how many songs feature the golden-glow organ playing of Jesse Gander. While the Vancouver punk rock mainstay initially signed on as the producer of Good Night, Tomorrow, he came out of the sessions as the band's fourth member. Though ecstatic about their evolution, Needles//Pins had concerns about messing up the dynamics of an established power trio.

"That's one of the things we always thought about any time the idea of adding someone else came up. What's that gonna do, because the three of us function incredibly well together," Ess explains. Part of their worry can be traced to seeing other punk acts pulling off similar line-up expanding moves with less success. "When the Get Up Kids added keys to their band, I hated it! I especially hated it because I saw them that year [1999], and the old stuff-- like Four Minute Mile, the Woodson 7-inch, all the really great old stuff that I love-- sounded like crap with the keyboard on it. I was really, really bummed."

Calling the transition a work in progress, Ess notes that Gander's busy work schedule makes him more of an on-call addition, and that he won't be making it out for the band's summer dates across the U.S. As such, they're still working out the kinks on how the keyboardist  can flesh out the early Needles//Pins catalogue. "I've had some good, honest commentary on it," Ess notes of Needles//Pins current incarnation. "Some people say it's a bit overpowering at times, so we think about that and how to work it in."

What's next is uncertain, but the pumped up Needles//Pins  are excited to weather the storm together.

Ess explains: "I think it's important not to go into it under the assumption that it will be different, or be different in a bad way. Whatever and whenever its different, just figure it out, you know? Jesse's the perfect person to have as an addition to that, because he's just very easy going and down for anything."

Photo: Ryan Wagner




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