50 songs in 50 states: Netherfriends comes to Fairbanks

By Jeremia Schrock

Sun Star Reporter

Shawn Rosenblatt of Netherfriends says that most people compare his band’s sound to that of New York-based Animal Collective. While it’s true they have a similar sound (electronic psychedelic pop), Rosenblatt has always felt more of a kinship with a certain 60’s British rock band, “I try to sound like a modern version of The Zombies,” Rosenblatt said.  “I feel like the Zombies were the band that kinda sparked my interest in writing songs as Netherfriends,” Rosenblatt said. “Their songs on ‘Odyssey and Oracle [especially].’” This past April saw ‘Odyssey and Oracle’ rate as the 80th best album of all time, according to a list released by Rolling Stone magazine.

For music aficionados out there, Rosenblatt’s music also bears a striking resemblance to the music produced by the Australian pop group The Whitlams. That is, if they were playing a live show in Colorado’s outdoor Red Rock Amphitheater with a pack of hyenas. In other words, it’s earthy, emotional, and incredibly primal.

Apparently, Rosenblatt also almost never experiences writer’s block and said that he finds inspiration in “so many sources.” Too many to name, in fact. He also realized that music was his calling when he was 13.

“I was such an introverted, lazy kid before I began creating music. It pushes me to meet new people every night and music teaches me how to express myself,” Rosenblatt said. “My parents never pushed me as a kid and my mom always assumed that when I had an interest in something that it would be a fad and I would get bored with it in a couple months.” Rosenblatt cited his passing fads with basketball and baseball when he was younger. “So, I guess music was something that…I decided to pursue. [I] stuck with it to show my mom that music wasn’t just a fad for me.”

Besides, Rosenblatt continued, “life sucks regardless [of] what you do, you might as well do what you love.” Rosenblatt has been doing what he loves ever since.

Currently, Rosenblatt, accompanied by fellow keyboardist Scott Westrick, is slated to play two shows in Alaska: one at the Alligator Wharf in Anchorage (Sept. 16) and the other at the UAF Pub two days later (Sept. 18). Although Rosenblatt usually gets around in an old 15-passenger van, he’s making an exception for Alaska by flying up instead.

According to Cody Rogers, UAF’s Assistant Director for Student Activities, Netherfriends is coming to Fairbanks “because [Rosenblatt] said so.”  Rosenblatt originally contacted Ephy Wheeler at KSUA, asking if there was anywhere in Fairbanks he could play a gig. Wheeler then sent him to Rogers who helped set up his concert at the pub.

To Rogers, it also has something to do with what she calls “the Alaska effect.” People want to play in Alaska simply for the fact that it’s Alaska.

For Rosenblatt, it also has something to do with the tour he’s currently on. His mission is to record 50 songs in 50 states. “It’s been going well,” said Rosenblatt. “Although the [western] states heading to Seattle were kinda disastrous in turnouts, but that was expected.” After playing and recording in Alaska, Rosenblatt will officially be halfway through his national tour. “I think I will try to [record] one in Fairbanks and one song in Anchorage,” he added.

When can Alaskans expect to see their song (or songs) in album form?

“I am releasing the first 5 songs for the 50 states project in January [of 2011],” Rosenblatt said. “So it might be a little while before you [hear] the Alaska song(s) on recording, but I am going to try to release the songs super fast.”

What also makes Netherfriends’ Alaskan shows more meaningful to Rosenblatt is that he’ll be celebrating his birthday while in the state. “I didn’t realize this, but my birthday is on the 18th,” he said, adding that he’s “very excited” to be spending his birthday in Alaska.

Does he have any special birthday plans?

“Maybe get some Eskimo (birthday) kisses,” he said, laughingly. “Do Alaskan people do that?”

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