Historian
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Historian

Anchorage, Alaska, United States

Anchorage, Alaska, United States
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"The Call of the Wild: Alaska's Untamed Music Scene"

...We've reached the point where you're probably wondering if these bands are any good? Or did I just travel 3,400 miles to tell you how reindeer tastes? The answer is yes and yes. Reindeer is sumptuous, and at worst, any one of these bands could entertain you on a Thursday night in Echo Park or Williamsburg. Ghost Hands and the Whipsaws rifled off guitar shots that would make J Mascis applaud. The Sweeteners do blistering blues-rawk with gusto. The Modern Savage bridged Cyndi Lauper and Ra Ra Riot with sturdy cables. Historian frontman Nate Hurst has a damaged archangel yawp, one of the best new rock voices since Jim James.

I could quote more interviews, but they start to blur. The stories of how everyone got here are different, but the musicians all come from similar stock. Stateside city living has allowed us to make an art out of the complaint. There is too much traffic, too little space, and abnormal natural disasters that lead you to believe that the Mayan prophets understood global warming. There is frantic competition for resources, managers, and practice spaces. No one in Anchorage will deny that they want tour dates, label deals, and substantial careers. But they all insist that the most rewarding thing has been supporting everyone else's evolution.

What the evolution is remains vague and no one can explicitly articulate it. To paraphrase Woody Allen, Anchorage indie rock has gone from a notion to an idea. And there is the general (and not implausible belief) that one or more of these bands has a chance to break "outside." There is a nascent professionalism whereas everything before was amateurish. This is exactly what you'd expect the city's residents to tell a writer touching down for a few days during a stretch of unseasonably good weather. But if that's the case, then the party line is remarkably consistent.... - SPIN


"Area Codes: 907, Anchorage Alaska"

Though Anchorage’s music scene shares some similarities with other local ecosystems we’ve featured, the thing that makes the biggest city in Alaska stand out is its isolation, to the extent that all of the other states are referred to as the capital O Outside. Like Boise, it has a youth scene that craves the rare big show and goes nuts when it finally arrives, and almost like Burlington, its entirety resides within the same area code (except for the city of Hyder, an Alaskan city in the southeast part of the state that uses Canadian money and whose townspeople send their kids to Canadian schools). It’s a town with an always shifting youth culture thanks to its proximity to several colleges — University Alaska at Anchorage being the biggest — and a town keen on metal (of the deathcore/metalcore variety), as well as other sounds trying to explore shaded regions in between genres like indie and Americana.

“It’s a pretty small scene. It’s a small city, not quite 300,000, I think,” Matt Sullivan, the editor for the Anchorage Daily News culture supplement Play Magazine, says over the phone. “There’s a metal scene, that’s a popular thing here. On the flipside, really rustic Americana does well here. Most things kind of swing on that pole. There’s a sizable granola contingent. They all just kind of stick in their own little pockets. There’s only a handful of bands that do this cross-pollenization and they generally are the best ones, any semblance of scene cohesiveness comes from that handful.”

With regards to the town’s robust metal scene, the success of outfits like 36 Crazyfists paved the way for bands like Turbid North, who grew up and out from a similar environment. “I moved back to Alaska in 2004 and at the time, the only shows coming to Alaska as far as metal, were really big shows, like Ozzy or Metallica,” says Sarah Pederson, a local promoter that came up as a street team member for the 36 Crazyfists and now runs her own unit called Family Tree Presents. “I decided to become a concert promoter and start filling the void.”

Though Alaska is a great place to make music, it does lose bands hoping to make their passion a day job to the Pacific Northwest, where bands like Portugal. The Man have moved out to have easier access to Lower 48 tour circuits. Turbid North has been in Texas for some time after an Outside tour partner implored them to make the move. It’s nearly impossible to make it here, compounded by the fact that it’s a costly exercise to leave Alaska and tour.

Sullivan keeps it level, though, about the town that rural Alaskans call “Los Anchorage.” “In a lot of ways it’s not as different as a lot of other places. Except you run into a moose on the way downtown or something. As cloying as it is, it’s pretty tough to overstate how gorgeous this place is.”
VENUES

The Anchor Pub
The Avenue Bar
Bear Tooth Theatrepub: “It’s a restaurant and a second-run/art-house theater. The same people who run the place also own a brewery called Broken Tooth, and the first Thursday of every month they have a First Tap concert where they unveil some new beer and usually have some Outside band play (Outside and Lower 48 are pretty interchangeable terms here)” — Matt Sullivan.
Blues Central
Chilkoot Charlie’s
Tap Root
S Lounge
Wendy Williamson Auditorium: “The high-profile shows at the University of Alaska Anchorage happen here. St. Vincent, The Antlers, Menomena, Patton Oswalt, Seth Meyers, that sort of stuff” — Matt Sullivan.

FOOD

Dish Sushi Bar
Ginger
Hott Stixx
Moose’s Tooth
Peter’s Sushi Spot
Pho Lena
Snow City Cafe
Spenard Roadhouse
Table 6

VIA ALASKA

The Builders And The Butchers
Portugal. The Man
Turbid North (Originally from Fairbanks)

LABELS/INSTITUTIONS

Home Skillet Records (Juneau)
Family Tree Presents
Out Da Cutt (label)
Title Wave Books
KRUA University of Alaska Anchorage radio station

JAMS

Bolt Action Beaver – “We Are The Nights Who Say Bree”Download

Ghost Hands – “Aching Eyes”Download

Ghost Hands – “For Now Bounce 6?Download

Historian – “All My Friends Are Extinct”Download

Kallahan – MRSADownload

LaVoy – “Pegleg Bird”Download

pretty birds that kill – “Monsters”Download

Turquoise Boy – “You’re An Apostrophe” - Stereogum


"Best New Bands in America 2012"

CITY: Anchorage
SONG TO DOWNLOAD: “All My Friends Are Extinct”
WEBSITE: http://historianak.bandcamp.com

Imagine if Nick Cave and Win Butler stepped into one of Jeff Goldblum’s telepods and formed a whole new human being. The music that this ButlerCave would begin to make would sound a lot like the bizarre and beautiful sounds of Historian. One Anchorage Press reviewer describes their sound as something that will make you “want to rob a bank while wearing leopard-print spandex.” But perhaps the best thing about Historian is that they’re able to synthesize so many different influences into something fresh and interesting. Nowhere is that more present than on their first album, Dream Crusher, a six-song ode to the apocalypse. Singer and keyboardist Nate Hurst croons in such a soulful manner that it elevates the more familiar aspects of their sounds into something special. It may not make you want to commit larceny, but it sure as hell will make you want to follow them till the end.
_Nick Johnston - Boston Phoenix


"The Boston Phoenix names best new band in Alaska Read more here:"

Each year, writers at the Boston Phoenix scour the Internet in search of the 50 best new bands in the U.S., choosing one band or artist from each state. This year they chose Anchorage indie-rockers Historian as Alaska's best, a distinction previously held by Pretty Birds That Kill, The Moon Knights and Stubby’s Crack Co.

While Historian certainly sounds like the band described in the Phoenix’s blurb and the tracks posted on the site are definitely by the Anchorage band, the picture posted on the Phoenix page is of a group from Ohio called Historians (who, for what it’s worth, were not the best new band from that state).

Here’s what the Phoenix had to say about the band pictured above:

Imagine if Nick Cave and Win Butler stepped into one of Jeff Goldblum’s telepods and formed a whole new human being. The music that this ButlerCave would begin to make would sound a lot like the bizarre and beautiful sounds of Historian. One Anchorage Press reviewer describes their sound as something that will make you “want to rob a bank while wearing leopard-print spandex.” But perhaps the best thing about Historian is that they’re able to synthesize so many different influences into something fresh and interesting. Nowhere is that more present than on their first album, Dream Crusher, a six-song ode to the apocalypse. Singer and keyboardist Nate Hurst croons in such a soulful manner that it elevates the more familiar aspects of their sounds into something special. It may not make you want to commit larceny, but it sure as hell will make you want to follow them till the end.

Read more here: http://community.adn.com/play/blog/106149?page=2#storylink=cpy - Anchorage Daily News


"Interrogation: Historian"

By Jeri Kopet

In a previous Top 10 list, I mentioned that the track “Shark Flu” from Anchorage band Historian made me want to rob a bank while wearing leopard-print Spandex. It turns out that’s still true, and the rest of the band’s songs are equally uniquely energizing. Historian draws from many different influences, ranging from Bowie to modern bands like The Walkmen, and even a bit of Motown crooning. Historian keeps you guessing, and that’s a great thing.

I’ve listened to many musicians talk about their craft, but few have been as philosophical as the members of Historian. The band began as a loose collaboration between guitarist Dan Zawodny and lead singer and keyboardist Nathan Hurst. Complicated, beer-fueled guitar riffs served as the breeding ground for much of the band’s current material, as did long-brewing songs from Hurst’s previous musical projects. “At the beginning Dan and I were doing lots of guitar-based music,” says Hurst, who eventually switched exclusively to keys and vocals. “[It was] a slow process… [eventually] it had to become more of a songwriting approach.”

When Hurst and Zawodny began working together, there was no long-term plan for how individual songs would turn out or what the band would sound like. “We didn’t start by literally knowing what we wanted to do,” Hurst says, “but we got to a point where we started to figure out what was happening and tried to cultivate what we thought were the strong points.” With the addition of bassist Marc Bourdon and drummer Luke Gorder, Historian went from side project to actual band.

This is when the real work began. “There was lots of different experimenting,” says Bourdon. “In interviews we couldn’t even answer [the question] ‘what do you sound like.’” Eventually, through a loose chaos of additions and subtractions, individual tracks began coming together. “We ended up having to oversimplify our songs,” says Zawodny, “and take them from that base and build.”

The members note that this sort of chaotic creative process makes Historian different from other bands they’ve been in. “This is one band where I can make my own parts,” says Bourdon, “the bass—what you hear is what came out of my brain.” Songwriting isn’t centered on getting a particular outcome, but oriented more towards an open dialogue and eventual result. “We all want to have a dialogue about what’s going on,” Hurst says, “it’s never, say, about what we want the end product to be like. It’s about working through the little problems that you have when you’re sort of writing from scratch.”

Historian’s resultant set list is a fascinating mix, with songs that practically provide narrative arcs with tempo changes alone. Hurst’s vocals and lyrics arguably take the band’s songs to the next level of complexity. Anyone who has seen a live performance know that Hurst’s range is wide, evocative, and brings to mind the likes of John Maus and Bowie (with a touch of Elvis).

“As far as the way I write, I’m really attracted to emotive singing, people who use their voice as an instrument… it took a long time to find a way to sing comfortably,” says Hurst. Hurst’s lyric writing process mirrors the same experimental route the band takes, often taking shape after a song is formed. “Most of the lyrics come from a private place, most are in first person… but I’d hate for people to think that it’s me, talking about myself,” Hurst says. “I like using words in a painterly way, using them to decorate and embellish… I don’t [necessarily] want people to be overly concerned with the lyrics of a song.” Zawondy says they aren’t the driving force of any particular Historian song. “The sound of the voice is more important than the words,” he says.

The band made their debut last May at the well-known Medfra house, which is fitting, considering that the band is very Fairview oriented. Historian continued playing gigs throughout the summer and also stepped into Twisted Penguin recording studio with engineer James Glaves to churn out a debut EP. “James got [our sound] from the first listen,” says Bourdon. The entire process was relatively painless, although Hurst drank a pint of whiskey to calm his initial nerves about tracking vocals, something band members laugh about now. “The recording process really helped us figure out what we wanted to do,” says Zawodny.

The band is now prepping for its May 12 CD release show, which will be the last gig for a while. After original drummer Gorder took off for the Lower 48, fellow “Fairviewian” Jason Lessard stepped into the role, but will be taking off for a summer job. The band looks forward to getting to work on new material during the break, although Bourdon comically admits he really just wants to play softball. Something tells me the creative chaos will continue, even if the bassist is covered in grass stains.
- The Anchorage Press


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

"Imagine if Nick Cave and Win Butler stepped into one of Jeff Goldblum’s telepods and formed a whole new human being. The music that this ButlerCave would begin to make would sound a lot like the bizarre and beautiful sounds of Historian. One Anchorage Press reviewer describes their sound as something that will make you “want to rob a bank while wearing leopard-print spandex.” But perhaps the best thing about Historian is that they’re able to synthesize so many different influences into something fresh and interesting. Nowhere is that more present than on their first album, Dream Crusher, a six-song ode to the apocalypse. Singer and keyboardist Nate Hurst croons in such a soulful manner that it elevates the more familiar aspects of their sounds into something special. It may not make you want to commit larceny, but it sure as hell will make you want to follow them till the end."

-Nick Johnston, Boston Phoenix