Indie rock duo Now, Now are back in the spotlight at long last. With excitement building for Saved - their first album in six (!) years - the pair dropped by Baeble Music HQ to treat us to a charming performance, including two new songs and one neat little throwback. They also told us a little about their origins, their songwriting process and what they've been up to in the years since that last record.
It's a long time since Now, Now released Threads back in 2012, and even longer since KC Dalager and Brad Hale met back in their high school marching band. It's been quite a journey to this point for the group, not without its trials and tribulations, so it's great to see the duo finally making the kind of music that really reflects their identity as Now, Now. "SGL", the first single from Saved, has gone down as one of the best tracks of 2017 and hype for the new album is steadily building.
Now, Now's three-song set bridges the six-year gap between albums with performances of "SGL", "Yours", and "But I Do" - opening with two of their new songs, before finishing up with a nostalgic reminder of Threads. Hearing the new music, it does feel like something of a rebirth for Now, Now. They've got a newfound confidence in their songwriting ability, after some struggles during their six year absence, and the new synth-laden sound is a breath of fresh air. You really get the sense that Saved could be a breakthrough moment for the pair.
Saved will be released on May 18th, but in the meantime you can get your Now Now fix by checking out the duo's Baeble session. We're very excited about their return, and you should be too.
- We have a... Yeah. We are in a band called Now, Now. - We met about 16 years ago when we were 15. We've been writing music together ever since. Brad and I have always promised to stick together throughout the whole process. so well together? mom is a fan. - It's hard to explain. - I don't know. - I don't really know, it just does. - But we know what we're saying to each other, so... - We have our own secret language. - Yeah. Hey, thanks for watching. We're called Now, Now. And this song is called SGL. You call me crying In the middle of the night I'm on my knees You've got me praying for a sign It's all wrong She's looking for a fight Just say my name and I'll come running Don't get me wrong I hear your reasons You get along over the weekends But I've got it bad, yeah, I'm not sleeping And every time I hear her name my heart is breaking Pick it up, baby if I'm moving too slow I've got the seat back Windows up Just say it, I'm yours Now every word is heavy Tell me what you want to know You're my shotgun lover and I want it all Every time we talk all night You've only got one foot in the river Baby, why? If only I could read your mind You've got your finger on the trigger, baby Give in to me I hear your reasons You get along over the weekends But I've got it bad, yeah, I'm not sleeping And every time I hear her name my heart is breaking Pick it up, baby, if I'm moving too slow I've got the seat back Windows up Just say it, I'm yours Now every word is heavy Tell me what you want to know You're my shotgun lover and I want it all Starry-eyed I was young and undone But I could have died with you there in the sun Pick it up, baby, if I'm moving too slow Now every word is heavy Tell me what you want to know You're my shotgun lover and I want it all Starry-eyed I was young and undone But I could have died with you there in the sun You're my shotgun lover and I want it all - We were... I can't even explain how... There's a video of us, where it's just us sitting at a table and we look like... - That morning that SGL came out. - Yeah, the morning SGL came out. And it looks like someone has passed away. Like, we are just like, 6 a. m. , we woke up, we set alarms to wake up, like, for when the premiere was happening. And we were just like... - "Here we go. " - "I hope this works. " - "See if it works. " - "I hope this works. " - Yeah, well, it was... - It was... - It was one of the... - ...sung on NPR list. Yeah - It's been really surprising to us. - It felt very good. After, you know, how much we put into the album and how much we believe in it to see other people feel, kind of, what we hoped they would feel about it has been really... We have the choruses to it for... - We had this for a while. - Yeah, probably for about a year and I just was not able to finish any other part of it. Then just one day, working on it, just finished it. Like it just happened. And we were like... - All right. - "Whoa! We just..." - We finished our first song. - "...finished a song. Holy crap!" - It felt like a good bridge from our last album to what's coming. - What's to come, yeah. - Yeah. It felt like a good in-between. - A good transition. Yeah. - Hey, hey, hey. Hey. Yeah. I'm driving faster with the windows down Just to keep my mind off of you So don't you try to ignore me You stood in the light before me But could you adore me? I could listen to your voice all night Whisper to me, baby, tell me what you'd like Who are you kidding, baby, when you try and deny me When you try and deny me I'll make you stay, there's just no way I'm leaving without your love But you make me wait to hear you say "If you want it, make your move, come on." If I had my way, I would be yours I would be yours, I would be yours You say my name, I had no choice Baby, it's time to get comfortable You're slow motion when you walk into the room I can't keep my eyes off of you You got me doing things that I shouldn't do But, baby, I like it Who are you kidding, baby, when you try and deny me Who do you think you're fooling, when you're trying to fight it When you're trying to fight it I'll make you stay, there's just no way I'm leaving without your love But you make me wait to hear you say "If you want it, make your move, come on" If I had my way, I would be yours I would be yours, I would be yours You say my name, I had no choice Baby, it's time to get comfortable I'm driving faster with the windows down Just to keep my mind off of you I'm leaving the light on for you, baby, won't you come my way So come on, baby, won't you come my way I'll make you stay, there's just no way I'm leaving without your love But you make me wait to hear you say "If you want it, make your move, come on." If I had my way, I would be yours I would be yours, I would be yours You say my name, I had no choice Baby, it's time to get comfortable How can I keep up when I know you're moving so fast Just gimme a reason, baby, know I want you so bad I'm leaving the light on for you, baby, won't you come my way So come on, baby, won't you come my way How can I keep up when I know you're moving so fast Just gimme a reason, baby, know I want you so bad I'm leaving the light on for you, baby, won't you come my way So come on, baby, won't you come my way - It had a different energy than what we had ever tried to do with a song. That one started with... Brad had this little instrumental thing that he sent and I just was looping it in my car. The chorus just wrote itself and then the verses just happened really quickly after that. And those are the best songs to me, when they just come out of you. The language of the song, I feel really proud of because it said exactly what I was feeling, exactly what I wanted to say. It just did exactly what we wanted it to do. I think I envisioned the idea of a song being what it ends up being and I try so hard to describe things like, "It's going to be like..." And I do, like, a lot of hand gestures that Brad's like, "I don't know what you're saying. " - Yeah, it's... And then for me, it's a lot of, kind of, exploring until we get to the world. - Yeah, it's like I see what's at the end of the tunnel and it's just like navigating through the tunnel. But I feel like I'm the one that's like, "It's there! It's there. " - Okay. - Cool. - We'll try that. - All right. You've got it, Brad. - It's just so high. - You wanted to do that. - I know, but then I got self-conscious. You see it really stressed out for these, kind of, stripped-down things. - Yeah. - Really? - Well, it was, yeah. - Yeah, it's so... - Bare. - It's so quiet, too, when you do... - It's quiet. - ...a stripped-down thing. You feel like... - Any mistake is like, "Oh. " - ...super amplified, you know. It's like, it feels, kind of, like the equivalent of, like, being naked, you know. - It's like when you're playing a new song for someone on a guitar, like, just in front of them. That's what it feels like. - Yeah. You can't hide behind any of the production, or any vocal effects, or any layers of anything. It's just, kind of, here is the song in it's most bare form. That's all. That's all you get, and that's all there is. - What? - You got it. We could keep in touch if that's what you want You can call me, too, if that's what friends do It's not more than one, if that's what you thought You'd say I don't have the time for you But I do I could stay inside if that's what you want I won't say a word for a day or two When I'm in my room, I know what to do about you I can sleep, I can sleep, I can sleep soon When I get home I am kept from everyone in the house I'll walk down the hall where you have gone To feel the way it felt again, again, again, again I am what you need when you can't find it somewhere else I am what you want when you don't want anything else I am what you need when you can't find it somewhere else I am what you want when you don't want anything else - Perfect. - Thank you. - Thank you. - We did it. - No, that's great. - We... - We didn't take a break. - We did not hit... - People think that we did. - Yeah. We didn't hit pause at all. It's been about six years since our last album came out. But it was a long process of writing for us. We were writing all day every day, pretty much. And just at the time, it felt like everyone wanted us to make the same album again. And when we were presenting demos of different sounds, everyone was like "What are you doing? You can't release this. You can't put this out. What is this?" - "That's not a Now, Now song. " - Yeah, "That's not a Now, Now song. Like, you need to, like, do this or do this. " And so, I kind of wish we had, like, went on a break because that sounds nice, but the thing that pulled us out of it was just us not caring anymore about what people were expecting us to do. - I think we got in our heads so much about it. Once we were like, "Whoa, why do we care about all these people trying to tell us what to do?" I mean, this is what we do for ourselves. So... - Yeah. So we just stopped caring and then... - Then here we are. - ...then it worked. - Hey, we're Now, Now. And you're watching Baeble Music. - Don't look at me.
The title of Now, Now's first new album in half a decade begs the obvious question Saved from what? They certainly didn't seem like a band that needed saving after the release of their 2012 LP Threads. When the world last heard from Now, Now, they had made their late night TV debut with Jimmy Fallon, and landed tours and shows with bands including Fun. and Bob Mould, among others. For better or worse, the usual path for any band that seems like they're on the cusp of a break through is to strike while the iron is hot. That is, to hurry back to the studio to work with a proven producer known for having a hand in a few big records. Bands and artists that find themselves in this situation are compelled to "go big, or go home," and in Now, Now's case they did just that, they went home.
It might not have been planned that way, but that's where they ended up-- back in Minneapolis without a clear sense of how to move forward. Despite any success or acclamation earned up to that point, self-doubt set in, and a crippling writers block entrenched itself further. Weeks became months, and months dissolved into years, all while the band's modest but fervent fanbase were left to speculate on social media as to what was behind the silence. At a particularly low point relates KC, "I felt like I was pursuing the wrong dream, that maybe something else would reveal itself to me."
She felt pressure from both herself and those around her so immense that it froze her. "It felt like everyone was mistaking how much I was obsessing over the album for not caring about the album, but in reality I was putting too much pressure on myself to be able to write. So it felt like everyone was angry with me on top of me feeling like I was ruining my career and disappointing myself." As a result she reveals, "I had some very difficult conversations with myself and with people close to me who were worried about my happiness."
"I still carry a little bit of guilt for adding to that stress that KC is talking about," reveals Brad. "After a year of people around us asking 'why is the album not done, your career is about to just be over,' I as well started to question my career choice, to question my talent, and I started buying into this idea that KC wasn't working, even though I was right there watching her work. That's something I'm embarrassed by and wish I could take back. But through that we got stronger as friends and collaborators, and I learned the hard way that the only reason we make music is for ourselves."
Following a few years of frustration and introspection however, the ice began to crack while tracking the single "SGL." "The production on that song was completely different at first," recalls Brad. "It didn't have that main acoustic guitar part, and it never felt right. But one day I picked up an acoustic, turned off all the guitars we had already recorded and just played, and that came out. It felt so natural. It was also the first time I felt KC be excited about hearing the way her voice sounded. There was suddenly a new confidence in the way she sung her words."
As trying as it was for Now, Now, and as baffling as it may have seemed to those on the outside looking in, this intense period of self-examination ended up bringing us the record we have today. No doubt a better one than might have come to pass had they managed to turn one around more quickly. The pair that had met in marching band and begun writing and recording songs together over a decade ago as teens, hadn't yet been forced to set aside time to discover themselves. It was something they needed to do before they could advance.
Part of that discovery process involved their sound as well. "It took me a lot of time to explore different production techniques to really find what worked for us," says Brad, who in between Threads and Saved further developed his skill set behind the boards through a solo record under the moniker Sombear and work with other artists. "Figuring out how to make my voice sound has been a pivotal piece of us finding our sound again too," explains KC. "We also tried to keep everything as timeless as possible. We are very influenced by classic pop and classic songwriting, and were inspired by the power and sustainability those types of songs have." The guiding principle on Saved they agree, was to trust themselves and to not turn away from anything just because it was too far removed from their past material. "I was definitely scared at the start of the process to go outside of that box," says Brad, "but I wanted to so bad. Once we really followed our own vision is really when things started coming together quickly."
"I know it's been a long road," says KC, " but I wouldn't change any part of it. If we had put an album out right after Threads, we wouldn't have gone through that period of self-discovery. I think we would've continued to stifle our emotions and hide the fact that we were struggling as much as we were. We needed to hit rock bottom. In order to rebuild and come back stronger than before. I think we might have made an album that was timid and vague and unchallenging. But I know that's not what we were meant to do."
Saved is anything but "timid and vague," boasting the most direct songwriting and transparent lyrics the band have ever written by a mile. "I'd never felt comfortable being myself. I always felt like I needed to hide behind something," says KC. "'Back to the heart of it all' from the song 'AZ' is the most important conceptual lyric for this album. This is the most exposed I've ever been lyrically. I've never been this open." It's also no small coincidence that the lyric speaks to the pair's return to their writing and recording roots as well. While they initially started out in the studio, after completing "SGL" they finished the rest of Saved while working on ideas and tracking the album in their basements together, just as they had on their first recordings back in high school. When everything was done, with a fair bit of relief they sent the record on to Andy Park in Seattle for mixing.
The only people who know the full extent of the meaning behind Saved's title are Brad and KC, but it's clear to see that salvation for them, at least in part, involved escaping the constraints of their own hangups and insecurities. All so that they might be free to grow into the people and artists we see and hear today on their new album. After such an arduous process, "it's been really validating to see people on the internet and hear people at shows say they feel like the new songs are exactly the way they hoped we'd go," says KC. "We're lucky to have fans that care not only about the music, but about us as people," adds Brad. "It blows my mind to hear people tell us their different stories about how they found out about us. It's those moments that really keep me going. We feel really lucky that people connect with our music in such a deep and personal way."