When it came time for Number One Gun to record its third full-length last year, frontman Jeff Schneeweis knew he’d be taking the band into new territory.
With his bandmates of the past five years having moved on to other enterprises, Schneeweis was left to soldier on, spearheading the creation of "The North Pole Project,” the band’s second record for Tooth and Nail, to be released on January 15.
So, for three months last spring, Schneeweis wound his way through a laborious recording process that he described as “interesting and long, but fun.” Stretching out the operation was Schneeweis’ method of writing a song and fully recording it before moving on to the next.
“I’ve always written everything in the band,” Schneeweis said, “but with no one around to give input for their parts, I had to figure it all out myself.
“I just wrote and recorded as I went, playing every instrument.”
The result is a concise, hook- and anthem-filled gem that, while remaining focused on guitar-based rock songs, is unafraid to mix in a ballad or two, ala the Plain White T’s.
The album opens with the mid-tempo “The Massacre,” which features the chorus chant “I’m over it,” which is sure to be sung at top volume by crowds during the band’s winter West Coast tour with Brighten, Sever Your Ties and Secret and Whisper.
The first ballad shows up on the third track, “The Best of You and Me,” which evokes images of the calmer moments of Thrice’s recent release, “The Alchemy Index,” which gives way to “Wake Me Up,” a well-crafted song where Schneeweis deftly builds the crescendo into a near-manic chorus and for which the band has already produced a video.
The 10-tracks close out with “This Holiday,” the first single, and an upbeat song driven by a punchy acoustic guitar riff and accented with synths and strings, further cementing the album’s reputation to change gears at will.
Tracked in his Chico, Calif. studio, the lack of bandmates for the sessions inspired him to tag the record as “The North Pole Project,” the name he had given to what was intended to be his post-Number One Gun solo project.
“It really symbolizes me being out on my own,” he said. “I just imagined being out there, off in the distance, having to do things for myself.”
And while the recording process had an air of seclusion to it, Schneeweis won’t be going it alone on the road. He’s already drawn together a band that includes Brighten frontman Justin Richards and drummer Jonathan Russo, who has toured with Number One Gun previously.
“I've always tried to write so that people can relate to the lyrics,” Schnewweis said. “I want to write songs that can give people hope,
“There's a real variety of songs here, but that’s still the focus. Things might get tough, but there’s always hope on the other side. For me, this band has just been an expression of that.”