Indie bedroom pop band Northwest released their third album, “Heaven from Athens,” Dec. 3. The seven-song album, which was re-recorded three times, is dedicated to heaven and the transitional periods of the band members’ lives.
After Lukas Needham, guitarist, vocalist and producer, had a technical malfunction with his hard drive, the band re-recorded the album with an Ohio University student, which resulted in them wanting to re-record again after hearing the finished product. The title resembles that trip, which took place in Athens, Ohio.
The band began writing songs when Needham met guitarist and producer Noah Bennett in 2017, Needham said. He described those earlier songs as jokes, but said their work became more serious and began expressing their emotions as they started to release music.
“A lot of it revolves around the changes that we've seen and struggled with throughout the last couple years with adjusting to physical locations,” he said. “Some of it is relating to mortality, and how death affects other people.”
The first song on the album, “Heaven,” was written about the passing of Needham’s uncle and wanting his aunt to cope and recover.
Primary songwriter Needham said the lyrics of the songs resemble growing up in Chesterton, Indiana — a short drive from Lake Michigan and a slightly longer drive from Chicago.
“Northwest Indiana is probably the most interesting place to grow up in Indiana because it has the dynamic of Chicago being right there, as well as the beach,” he said. “There's a lot of different types of things you could do — different types of activities that relate to the region.”
Needham said he feels performing is rewarding as he makes connections with his band mates and audience members and collaborates with people in the music community. The band performs most frequently in Indiana cities Muncie, Bloomington and Fort Wayne.
The cover artwork is an airbrushed representation of drummer Blake Fletcher’s late dog, Bud, in heaven.
Fletcher has been playing drums since he was four years old and started taking lessons at age 12.
Living in Chesterton required a drive to the next town in order to find something to do, Fletcher said. A lot of activities included being outside, which is reflected in the lyrics of the songs.
Fletcher’s favorite song off the album is “2004,” which Needham said is based on his childhood. During his first memories of being a child, Needham would look out of the backseat car window as his dad played CDs.
“It always sticks out to me as a really pure era,” Needham said. “Very early youth — that's one of the purest times in your life.”
Fletcher said this album, “Heaven from Athens,” is the first cohesive project they have released.
“We just know how we want to sound and what we want to make more now than we did before,” he said.
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Bennett said living close to the beach was a big inspiration for the album.
Bassist Dominic Sandefur is the newest member, joining the band this year from Greenwood, Indiana.
“You could pick any given song and kind of find something to hold onto,” he said. “Part of the brand or part of how it's all written is very authentic and about any given thing. It's not just a pop hit.”
Northwest will be selling cassette tapes soon. Their tour in January will take place in Muncie, Chesterton and Fort Wayne as well as Kalamazoo, Michigan.