Hit the Road, Jack

Netherfriends Get Friendly With Touring

Netherfriends believe the road to success is in touring.

‘Making it’ has become an increasingly difficult task in the music industry. Bands have to focus on what they love if they want to succeed.

For Shawn Rosenblatt, singer, guitarist and songwriter of Chicago’s psychadelic pop group Netherfriends, touring has become the band’s priority. “The music industry’s dead and everyone’s kind of looking around like, ‘What are we supposed to do?’” Rosenblatt said.

“I think a lot of people are relying on the internet these days to bring them to a new level. With these ‘buzz bands,’ people have this really skewed view about blogs bringing [bands] to a new level. I think that bands should be on the road if they really want to make a career of playing music.”

“I met someone recently and they knew of Netherfriends because we played the Pitchfork Festival,” he added. “He was like ‘I would do anything to play the Pitchfork Festival. That would be like the most incredible thing ever!’ and I was like ‘Yeah it was fun, but it didn’t change my life or anything.’ I still went back to the same thing I was doing, which is touring and recording.”

Netherfriends have a unique approach to their band’s operation. Rosenblatt writes and records almost everything himself, and on the road he brings a couple friends along to flesh out his songs in a live setting.

“With the full-length [album], I was recording in Apple Valley, Minnesota, at my girlfriend at the time’s parents’ house. I had the whole house to myself,” he said. “They were moving out of the place so I was there by myself for seven days and I recorded 10 songs and that’s what [latest release] Barry & Sherry is.”

Barry & Sherry is a combination of old and new sounds, a mix of ‘60s chillwave with a hint of early Pink Floyd. The production sound is big, something Rosenblatt aims to replicate live.

“I do a lot of live looping with my voice so it sounds like there are multiple people singing, and I have this sampler that plays kind of ambient noises that fill out the sound as well,” explained Rosenblatt. “I don’t want to replicate exactly what I’m doing on the recording, but I do try to do it justice as much as I can.”

Netherfriends sound is influenced from his contemporaries, too. “I’m really into the idea of neo-psychedelic pop sound, where it’s kind of fusing the ideas of ‘60s pop with new ideas,” Rosenblatt said.

“I’m a big fan of Caribou. That one record Andorra is the epitome of what I love about new psychedelic pop.”

Their POP Montreal performance on Thursday will showcase Rosenblatt and friends doing what they love most—playing live.

“I’m kind of fed up with bands that are spending all this time at home recording a record and not playing any shows, when no one’s buying it to begin with,” said Rosenblatt. “I don’t understand why you’re spending all this money to record for no one. I mean, you’re not Radiohead.”

Netherfriends play with Adam & the Amethysts and Guests at Cabaret Playhouse (5656 Ave. Du Parc). Show starts at 10 p.m.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 07, published September 28, 2010.