Pensacola, Florida
Monday January 21st 2019


Due North

By Shelby Nalepa

Chicago-based garage rock duo North by North is spending some much-needed time in the South, with a stop in Pensacola slated for Friday night. They’ll be playing at chizuko with locals Precubed, Morn Mongata and Lights by Fire.

Drummer Kendra Blank and Nate Girard, vocals and guitar, just kicked off their aptly named Never-Ending Tour earlier this year. This will be the duo’s first-ever show in Pensacola.

“This will be our first trip to play anywhere in Florida, bringing the total number of states we’ve played in to above 40,” Blank said. “Our goal is to play in all 50 states at some point, so we are looking forward to swinging through Florida for the first time.”

Blank and Girard initially met in high school after their families moved to the Chicago area and have played in several different bands together over the past 10 years, but Blank said that North by North has been their longest project by far.

“Having fewer members definitely forces us to be more creative in terms of songwriting,” Blank said. “For example, Nate’s guitar work must fill both the lead and rhythm guitar space, as well as the rhythmic elements of a bass guitar. Each piece of the drum set also becomes a unique and crucial part of the song, forcing me to focus not only on what is being played but also on tone and technique.”

The beginnings of the band started in 2011 similar to its current state, with Girard and Blank as a guitar and drum duo. After a few line-up changes which moved Blank to keyboard, they found that their original embodiment worked best for the type of sound and raw energy they most connected to.

“We downsized back to a two-piece in late 2016 after a three-month tour showed us that full-time touring was achievable and sustainable,” she said.

Having just two members, Blank said, allows them more opportunity to tour more often and freely travel the country.

“We love being on the road,” Blank said. “It’s great getting to travel around and meet new people, see old friends and fans, and see the country. We always have a great time in Texas, and some of our other favorite spots are Asheville and Charlotte, N.C., Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle.”

Blank said that their main influences include artists like Queens of the Stone Age, Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and The Strokes.

“But we’ve also been likened to acts as varied as The Pixies, Danzig, and Foxy Shazam, so it seems that our sound and our music appeals to fans of many different genres,” she said.

Both Blank and Girard got into music at a young age, with Blank playing keys in other bands before picking up drums again.

“My dad was a drummer, and so when I joined band in middle school it made sense that I would choose percussion as well,” Blank said. “Meanwhile, Nate picked up the guitar at 13 and basically never put it down. I played keyboard for many years in North by North and other projects, and the switch to drum set was basically a no brainer.”

Blank said that finding their niche in Chicago’s varied community of musicians at first took some time.

“The Chicago music scene is huge,” Blank said. “It can tend to be neighborhood-specific in terms of venues and bands, but there are so many pockets of great music that it’s not an issue.”

Blank said that she and Girard have been working on new material since the completion of their last record “Last Days of Magic,” and are in the middle of recording their third album. They plan to release the album sometime this fall.

“We started with a more raw, punkier sound on our first album ‘Something Wicked,’ and then we really focused on polishing the recordings and the recorded performances on ‘Last Days of Magic,’” Blank said. “We’re hoping to find a happy medium between the two on our new album as far as vibe and solid performances.”

WHAT: North by North with Precubed, Morn Mongata and Lights with Fire
WHEN: 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9
WHERE: chizuko, 506 W. Belmont St.
COST: $5-$8