Spotlight On Kitsap – Magnetic North: A Reunion

Magnetic North
Photo courtesy of Robbi Perez

Okay I’ll admit it. I love nostalgia. Most people do it seems, and that’s okay. This seems especially true with music. An old song can instantly transport you back to where you were, and what you were doing the first time you heard that song. This Friday night in Bremerton will be an especially nostalgic night for myself along with countless other Kitsap County music fans, when my good friends Magnetic North play their first show in 12 years.

I first met Johnny Boyce (vocals, guitar), Charley Potter (guitar), Marshall Trotland (bass, vocals), and Harley Trotland (drums) back in 1999 (I was 22) when the oldest member of the band was 17, the youngest was 13, and they were called The Iris Project. At the time Marshall was also in a blues band called appropriately Mojo Blues Band, and I had recently been brought in to replace their guitar player who had recently left. I had already been blown away by Marshall’s bass playing which was well beyond his years, full of feeling, and had already found that ever-elusive “pocket” at a very young age. He had told me about his new pop-punk band he had started with his buddies John, Charley, and his 13-year-old brother Harley. That summer Marshall and Harley’s parents hosted a party at their house on Lake Tahuyeh that would feature Mojo, and the new band The Iris Project. As soon as I heard that first downbeat I was hooked. I couldn’t believe how good these guys already were- THEY WERE JUST KIDS!! Their songs were melodic, catchy, well-structured, and full of raw energy. Soon after they changed their name to Magnetic North, and the rest is history.

Magnetic North 2

From 1999 until their breakup in 2004 Magnetic North self-released 2 stellar studio albums, 2001’s ‘The Only Constant Thing’, and 2003’s ‘Intoxication Proclamation’,  played countless shows all over the PNW, and even did a little touring. Now 12 years after their last show, they will be reuniting this Friday night Sept. 11 at the Manette Saloon in Bremerton.

I caught up with Johnny Boyce recently to talk about the band, the reunion show, and everything in-between.

JWP:
How did the band get started?

JB:
It really started with Marshall and I becoming friends. His pops was a musician, so when I used to go over and hang out there was a drum-set, a bass, a ’72 SG that his Dad let us play (which is crazy!). I think we were about 15 then. I lived like 3 miles away, and would ride my bike over there almost every day for a while- just to hang out and play with all the instruments.

JWP:
So when did Charley come into the picture?

JB:
I actually met Charley when he moved to town and joined the school band. We were both percussionists, so we struck up a friendship there. During that time Marshall and I had taken a little break while he was playing with a band called Butterface, so I had started another band called The Crew, and Charley used to come to our practices and listen. One day our drummer didn’t show up, so Charley played drums and killed it. I asked if he played other instruments, and he said he also played bass, and guitar. So he played bass in The Crew until Marshall and I started playing together again, and then he switched to guitar and started playing with us. At that point Iris had gone through a few different drummers until one day Marshall said “Hey why don’t we get Harley to play drums?!” I was a little skeptical at first because Harley was so young, but once he sat behind the kit and started playing with the songs we knew right away that he was the guy. At 13 most kids who are learning an instrument are still in that learning phase and can be really timid, but Harley already knew how to hit the drums like a MAN. Once Harley joined that’s when Magnetic North was really born.

JWP:
You guys recorded both studio albums with Tony Reed (Mos Generator, Stone Axe). Did he produce those or just engineer?

JB:
I wouldn’t say he produced, but he definitely helped out with suggestions here and there, and just had a great ear for how to get good tones and performances out of us. The band always wrote and arranged everything. The 2nd album Intoxication Proclamation… which was originally going to be called “Metaphoric Middle Finger” (that album was a bit booze-fueled) was recorded on two-inch tape, which was awesome.

JWP:
Who are your biggest musical influences?

JB:
Well honestly MxPx was a huge influence- Mike (Herrera) is a badass songwriter. Also Foo Fighters- I love Dave Grohl’s approach to songwriting. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Radiohead…

JWP:
Do you want to talk about the breakup?

JB:
Yeah I don’t remember one specific thing, it was just a bunch of stuff I guess. Charley had left the band right after we recorded the 2nd album to go play drums in Kane Hodder, and we had tried to carry on with our buddy Steve (Reeves) on guitar (and we had some good times), but it just wasn’t the same. It was around then that I moved to Olympia (to go to Evergreen) which is where I started Ruxton Towers… Rocky Point was also getting started…..

The boys went their separate ways in 2004. Johnny formed Ruxton Towers with the Matthews brothers Chris Jr. (guitar), Brian (drums) and Jaymes Dunlap (bass). Charley continued playing drums with Kane Hodder until their breakup, and he currently lives in Columbia, South Carolina. He plays drums with Arms or Arrows, and Release the Dog. Marshall and Harley Trotland have continued playing together in countless bands since then including Rocky Point All-Stars (with KW Miller and myself), Tumbledown (with Mike Herrera and myself), The Malo Combo (with Malo Castro- Marshall plays vibraphone) and our current trio Band of Angels.

JWP:
So what made you guys decide to get back together?

JB:
It happened really organically actually. The Trotlands and I just started hanging out again, and we were in the jam room one day when the instruments started getting plugged-in, and we were off! We practiced a few times, and talked about trying to play as a three-piece, but we quickly realized that these songs were really written for two guitars. I called up Charley and told him we had been playing, and asked if he could/wanted to come out for a visit. He immediately said yes!

JWP:
So after the reunion show what’s next for you guys? Is Charley going to move back?!

JB:
Ha I don’t know, I think he wants to! Either way he doesn’t mind flying out from time to time, so we are definitely going to do more stuff. We want to write/record a new album for sure. Maybe this winter… I quit drinking a little over 2 years ago, so I’ve been pretty much spending all my time working, saving up for studio gear, and writing. We’ve got a pretty damn good studio up and running, so we could just record it all ourselves if we want, or we may still go to someone else- we haven’t decided yet. All I know is I’m ready to PLAY.

Mag North FlyerMagnetic North: A Reunion (W/ Chyeah Chyeah)

Manette Saloon – Bremerton, WA

Friday, Sept. 11 2015

9pm / $7 / 21+

www.facebook.com/magneticnorthbremwa

www.magneticnorth3.bandcamp.com


Jack Parker

Over the span of his 20-year career, Jack Parker has taken his life-long journey through the peaks and valleys, and shaped a musical sound reminiscent of a timeless America. For years, Parker has been the ingenious six-string slinger interpreting other people’s songs from “stage-right” in bands like Tumbledown, and Rocky Point All-Stars, but more recently he has taken center-stage to write, sing, and play his own songs that have an air of rambling down the open road, but ultimately a longing for coming home. His first solo album "Homegrown" is available on iTunes, or at www.jackparkermusic.bandcamp.com. In his spare time Parker has written several articles, and tour blogs while on tour with various bands for Paste Magazine, Property Of Zack, and is now a featured writer for Northwest Music Scene. Follow Jack on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jackwparker (@jackwparker)