On the eve of his first Atlantic Canadian tour since his performances with Kingston rock band The Glorious Sons this past October, Northcote – the stage name of Western Canadian native Matt Goud – is not leaving anything to chance.
“I had my winter coat dry-cleaned. I don’t even know that it’s necessary or not, but I figured better safe than sorry when travelling the country at this time of year,” he laughs.
The most prudent among us can certainly appreciate Goud’s attention to detail. And while we could have engaged in a lengthy conversation on the practicality of dressing sensibly for the unpredictable nature of Canadian winters, more important things are afoot.
Specifically, Northcote’s new record, the optimistically entitled Hope Is Made Of Steel. The album follows his 2013 self-titled release, an album that had garnered the singer-songwriter widespread acclaim both here at home in Canada, as well as in Germany and the U.K., and tours with the Gaslight Anthem, Dave Hause and others.
Produced by Dave Genn (Matthew Good Band, 54-40), Hope Is Made Of Steel is a definitive step forward for Northcote. The record plays an important role in Goud’s career arc thus far, as he emerges from a songwriter’s cocoon to a more fully realized, Americana/rock-driven sound.
“I went into the making of this record with a couple of goals. One was to loosen up and experiment more, both in terms of broadening my sound, but also with writing direct lyrics. The sound of the record is unlike what I have done in the past. It’s definitely the most ‘produced’ album I’ve done, but that was a big part of deliberately seeking out to work with Dave [Genn]. Not to slight anyone that I’ve worked with in the past, I simply wanted to try working with someone that had a track record behind them this time around. Making this record was definitely a learning process.”
Goud didn’t happen to simply stumble upon his revamped, fuller band sound. Although his performance at Moncton’s Tide & Boar Ballroom on Friday, Feb. 19 will be an acoustic show, Northcote has in fact evolved into being a full band for the bulk of his live appearances.
“There is definitely a certain vibe and energy that goes with playing with a full band. That is the energy I wanted to capture with this release. Instead of reaching for an acoustic guitar when writing the songs on Hope Is Made Of Steel, I found myself picking up the electric guitar instead.”
Longevity is a recurring theme during our brief chat, and even though he is “only” three records into his career, Goud is well aware of the work that lies ahead of him still if he is hoping to make a lasting impact on listeners.
While critical acclaim and tours such as the one he is undertaking with Frank Turner certainly don’t hurt his cause, Goud is also smart enough to realize that you’re only as good as your last show. As if it weren’t already evident, he is not afraid to hustle and work as he deems necessary, qualities that certainly serve him well when it comes to earning fans across the globe.
“I’ve been lucky with this record in that I’ve been lucky enough to get some radio play and land big tours, but outside of those accomplishments, it’s just so important that I never quit working,” he says. “It’s nice to have the recognition I have earned so far, but I’m also not fooling myself. I’m pretty small potatoes compared to a lot of other acts out there. At the end of the day, all I can do is stay focused on what I want, which is building my career one song, one album and one fan at a time.”
What: Northcote, special guest to Frank Turner
When: Friday Feb. 19, 9 p.m.
Where: Tide & Boar Ballroom, 700 Main St., Moncton
Tickets are $23, available online at www.tideandboar.com/music