When North of Nine driving force Jackson Guthy was a kid, his mom delivered a piece of wisdom that has informed everything he does to this day. She said, 'Your ladder extends to the moon, but its up to you to make the climb. When you get there and youre able to see the view, its going to be amazing, Guthy recalls. The visual of a ladder to the moon struck Guthy so profoundly that he got an image of it tattooed on his forearm. Now that positive, uplifting message radiates from the music the 18-year-old Los Angeles native is making with his band, North of Nine, which has just released its debut single, the emotionally resonant piano ballad We Ride.
We Ride is a bold musical statement, given that it shows a softer side of North of Nine, a five-piece rock band that is rounded out by drummer Rob Ketchum, guitarist Michael OGrady, bassist Edison Lo, and keyboardist Nolan Frank, each of whom hail from different parts of the United States. Guthy formed the band in the spring and the guys have been in the studio ever since working on songs for their upcoming independently released debut album.
The creative energy of the group clicked from the beginning, and we ended up writing a bunch of songs right away, says Ketchum. It was really exciting. We went in the studio the first night and wrote 'Artillery.
Artillery, Guthy says is partially about a drama-filled relationship. Im saying 'lay down your artillery as in 'stop attacking me with your words because they hurt. I write songs because I need something that will make me feel like no matter whats happening today, I can go to sleep and wake up tomorrow and everything will be okay, even if it wont.
Guthy has used songwriting to express his emotions since he was a child. Despite the fact that no one in his family sings or plays any instruments, Guthy has always been drawn to making music. He started piano at age four, taking lessons for several years before he got tired of playing other peoples songs and began creating his own.
When I am at the piano, I feel this heat that radiates from my fingers, he says. It takes me to a place where lyrics and melodies just come to me. I have always known that I want to be able to sit behind a piano every single day of my life.
Guthys raw talent impressed industry veterans from the get-go. At age 11, Grammy Award-winning songwriter/producer Glen Ballard heard Guthy sing and accompany himself on piano. He helped Guthy record two songs and a music career was sparked. Over the next several years, Guthys journey took many twists and turns. At 15, he was invited to perform on The Ellen DeGeneres Show for the first time. He was signed briefly to Universal Music, which attempted to turn him into a teen-pop act. (It did not take.) Relieved not to be going down that path, Guthy began writing more sophisticated songs that reflected his true nature as an artist, including Roll, which caught the attention of musician/producer and American Idol Judge Randy Jackson. Jackson signed on as Guthys manager and urged him to follow his muse, picking up where his mother left off when she encouraged him to find his true north.
Your truth north is the thing that drives you forward. Its what always keeps you looking at the stars and dreaming up what you can do to reach them, he says of the phrase that inspired the bands name. Also, I was born in the year when all the nine planets were aligned. Nine is my favorite number.
North of Nine is likely to attract members of the fanbase that Guthy has built up as a solo artist thanks to his singles Roll and Everything I Do, as well as through relentless touring. Over the past two years, hes performed with One Direction, Big Time Rush, Victoria Jackson, Cher Lloyd, Fifth Harmony, Emblem3, and most recently, Five Seconds of Summer. It was right before joining the latters tour earlier this year that Guthy decided he wanted to change things up and form a band. Ive had a lot of amazing opportunities, but I did all of it alone, he says. I always thought it would be cool to do music with people that I like. Plus I was maturing lyrically and as a player. This band is the best context for me to express myself as a musician.
Though the members of North of Nine have only been together for a short time, they have forged a genuine camaraderie both offstage and on. A September performance during New York Fashion Week, where Randy Jackson introduced their four-song set, displayed the groups strong musicianship and dynamic chemistry, something they felt the first time they played together.
When we wrote 'Artillery, Guthy says. I brought in what I had and they went really hard into it, throwing out their ideas, which was great. Two more songs, Kiss Me and Start Where You Are followed and the guys knew they were truly onto something. I told them, 'This is the start of a new story for North of Nine. We know we need to pay our dues, but each member of the band, in his heart, wants to walk out on a stage and have every single person in the crowd be there for North of Nine. We want them to be there for us.