Matthew Goud is no stranger to Winnipeg.
For the better part of seven years, the musician with the fiery beard played guitar and sang in the Regina-based melodic hardcore band Means, which played this city on a regular basis.
In the two years leading up to the band’s dissolution in 2008, Means released two full-length albums on popular California-based label Facedown Records and spent 15 months touring across North America.
“Some members’ families required them to be off the road, so we supported that and instead of replacing a member or two, we decided to (end the band) together,” Goud said by phone last week from Victoria, B.C.
“We were a pretty close-knit group, and in a way, we had accomplished what we had wanted with that band.”
After Means’ last show in November 2008, the 25-year-old poured his energy into a solo singer-songwriter project he dubbed Northcote (in part so Goud could avoid being confused with a different Canadian musician with almost the exact same name).
Northcote’s debut EP, Borrowed Chords, Tired Eyes, came out in November 2009.
It’s not Goud’s first solo release, though. In 2007 he released an album titled See This Through under the name The Emerson Letters.
“I kind of did (The Emerson Letters) without (paying) a great deal of attention towards it, ‘cause Means was so busy,” Goud said.
“The reason why I kind of re-launched myself with Northcote was because this was going to be my main project, and just with everything going on in my life, I wanted a fresh start and energy to it.”
In March 2009, Goud recorded 12 songs in the back of a Regina yoga studio with co-producer/engineer Orion Paradis. He picked eight to include on the EP.
“I actually did some drumming on it and everything, piano parts and stuff, (but in the end) the material that seemed most true was the more minimal stuff.”
While both releases are strong, the differences between See This Through and Borrowed Chords, Tired Eyes are striking. On the latter disc, Goud has more clearly settled into the folk singer-songwriter tradition.
The guitar tones are warmer, the singing is more confident and the sparse instrumentation that accompanies him is influenced by classic country music.
“When I first wrote that EP, I was really heavy into Neil Young,” Goud said. “I wanted to do a singer-songwriter (thing) but still really maintain a raw rock energy. That’s kind of the spirit of it.”
This past summer, Northcote appeared at the Regina Folk Festival and Calgary’s Sled Island festival.
Now, Goud is touring across the prairies, opening for his Black Box labelmates The Wooden Sky.
The tour brings him to the West End Cultural Centre on Wednesday, Oct. 6, where he’ll be backed by Tyler Schwindt and John Jeffrey of Vancouver rock band Run River.
In November, Goud heads into the studio to record the first Northcote full-length.
“The core of who I am is the same, but I’ve learned so much more about music,” Goud said of the difference between The Emerson Letters and Northcote.
“I think (before) I was a hardcore, punk-rock kid playing folk music. Now I’m kind of growing a bit more into my new skin of being a singer-songwriter, instead of a punk-rock guy playing a ballad or something.”
Published in Volume 65, Number 5 of The Uniter (September 30, 2010)