Roots-Rock Band 28 North Stays and Plays in Gulf Shores Until Release of New Album
28 North came to Gulf Shores, Ala., to play only one show at the 92 Zew Countdown to the Hangout Free Concert on April 26, and spend a few days at the beach before shows in New Orleans. The roots-rock band became the first band to play past the Hangout curfew when they finally left the stage at 12:30 AM. They were so good that the Hangout let them play on and then invited them back for three more days and the band has already booked shows here in the fall. On Facebook 28 North described their experience as “dreams come true.”
This may be a preview of the band’s bigger dreams coming true. Their new album,World On Fire, is released on April 29 and they will be the May Featured Artist on Spotify and Pandora will feature them in the studio.
This is the first trip to Alabama for the band from Pittsburgh that now lives and records in Los Angeles. Lindner and drummer Tyler Bond started the band ten years ago in college with a bass guitar and djembe drums. The name 28 North is from a road sign in Pittsburgh that they thought of when they were forced to pick a name. After turnover with bass and guitar players, Lindner says the band is the best it is ever been with Mark Glinka on bass and Shawn Mazzei on lead guitar.
They have toured around the country but each member says the Saturday night show at the Hangout was the best show they have ever played. A false start in a wrong key with a do-over on the band’s new single “Call Me Up” seemed to break the ice for a spontaneous night where newlyweds danced and kissed on stage and other musicians joined the band. Lindner gave Colleen Rennison, lead singer of No Sinner, the mic and room to run on “Superstitious” then handed over his guitar to Hangout music director Chris Swinney (of the Ataris) to play several songs including “Sweet Home Alabama.”
Everyone could feel there was something different about that show. What does it mean to have the best show you’ve ever played?
We have had great shows before, but there was something special about tonight. We could have played anything and the crowd would have gotten it. Tonight was joyful and people trusted us right away and responded. We fed off of each other and that is the kind of energy that artists live and die for. We want that crowd and that energy every night.
I will go to bat for rock and roll and people playing their music any day of the week. There is nothing better than rock and roll and the exchange that we had tonight. I love DJs, but they can’t take the place of rock and roll music. Someone has to fight for moments like tonight. You can’t get that from electronic music.
The vibe of your show is interacting with the crowd and bringing people in. How do you know how to read a crowd?
Being a musician is the hardest job in the world because your job is to get everyone in the room to fall in love with you and to be happier than when they arrived. I watch the people, not my feet, and I see how they are reacting and my performance is based on the reaction of the people. I can feel what is right and what we should do next because I have been doing this for a long time. My job is to read audiences and know what they want and how to make them happy. I love that even more than playing.
I never know what I am walking into when I go to a new venue so I have trained myself to be apprehensive about a crowd until I walk out on stage. My plea is for people to start trusting bands again. I don’t know what happened in the 2000’s when the butt rock took over but it seems like people lost faith in bands.
I give the shows all that I have got. I push my vocals and body to the limit and I want the crowd to give that same energy back. I have a good time if the crowd is having a good time. If they aren’t having a good time, I am not having a good time either. On the off nights that doesn’t work, I sulk because it feels like failure.
How is your first tour through Alabama?
There is something about being in the South lately. I can feel that music is so important down here. It is the only conversation that I have had with people in our stops around Alabama this week. It is more than just something that you throw on your car radio. Something is going on here. We want to come back and stay.
You played “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Wagon Wheel” and made us enjoy those songs again. How do you choose your cover songs?
We play a few well–planned covers that we know will fit the audience until everyone knows our original music. “Sweet Home Alabama” was one for me becaude I am a fan of Lynyrd Skynyrd, but I knew the audience would be with us too. Sometimes you just want to hear a song you know. For me, I may not have written the song, but I am here to interpret the best way that I can in a way the audience hasn’t heard before.
You and Tyler write most of the songs for the band. Explain your songwriting.
Songwriting is something I have to do and I write about my life. I write songs about allergies, war, the beach, my mom, dad, and brother. Sometimes it feels like I fall in love with people just so I can write about them. It is a great way to mess up your mind. I pick up my guitar 500 times a day. It’s like seeing your girlfriend and giving her a kiss every time you see her. I am always writing riffs and lyrics, just not always finishing them. I may start something and come back a year later. It is funny how songs flow and when songs hit you. I immediately have to get out the iPhone and record. Technology has made it so easy to recall moments that turn into songs.
All of our songs have grown with us as we have grown. They sound different in a year. When we see people enjoying the songs we wrote, that is a part of us and it’s an honor. The Zew playing us is also an honor.
Your album World On Fire comes out this week. Radio is playing “Call Me Up” and the song is moving up the charts. Does it feel like 28 North is about to make it?
I am 28 years old and for ten years I have wanted the type of success that we are getting now. There is an excitement and buzz around the release and it is really good. The brilliant Gavin MacKillop produced the album. He has produced albums for the Goo Goo Dolls, Kitten, Miley Cyrus, and Toad the Wet Sprocket. I am proud of where he took our record. It is 37 minutes of songs that mean something.
I think it is going to take us to the next level but I have learned not to get too excited about anything. Good things have led us here, but we aren’t headlining yet. We just opened for ZZ Top, which was great, but I don’t want to be 40 and opening for ZZ Top was the highlight. I want to be 40 and still touring. I want this night to happen when I am 40 and every person knows every word to all of our songs. Crowds are getting bigger and we have a lot of people rooting for us. They key is to turn everyone on to this band. I want to headline the Hangout Festival. However, I get to play a ’77 Les Paul. I’ve already gone farther than I expected.