ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS: Jonathon McCombe, North Warren

Mid Coast hosted Volume 9 of their concert series at The Cooperage Wednesday evening and featured artists Jonathon McCombe, North Warren, Moonglow, and Phat Nerdz this time around. A crowd filled in and ate up each creative spectacle with enthusiasm. The cause chosen to fundraise for this month was AbolishMKE, who work towards prison abolition in Wisconsin.

Jonathon McCombe is a singer-songwriter currently based in DeKalb, IL. His music falls stylistically in the realms of lo-fi bedroom pop and hazy indie rock. He currently plays with lead guitarist Nicholas Kelly, bassist Drake Henning, and drummer Roberto DeLeon; this was one of their first times playing as a full band. McCombe explains how he’s gradually built the project.

“We’ve been playing since around February of this year. We played on NPR in May and have been slowly been playing out more since. We all go or went to NIU; we’re all friends so we decided to jam and see what happens. It’s all been really fun so far.”

McCombe released a record titled “One More” earlier this year in April. He describes the premise.

“I released it on National Beer Day. It’s kind of about being in college and seeing all the sketchy stuff that goes on, like getting older and being out in the nightlife. It’s got a weird, janky, warped vibe and sounds really fuzzy like you picked it up off the ground.”

He also released a new single titled “For Her” at the end of July.

“It was a double single, and they’re both songs about whoever may be out there that I’ll eventually be writing songs for one day. They’re kind of just sweet love songs that anybody can apply. I wanted to write something with my acoustic guitar for once.”

Lastly, he shares what he’s working on now.

“I played a couple demos today. The last song we played is going to be coming out soon, and then I’ve got a fuzzy garage rock tape coming out, with instrumentals and weird dissonant chords – like something you hear on the beach.”

North Warren is the “slacker rock” project of Luke Esperes. He’s currently playing with guitarist Ethan Radtke, bassist Graham Thomas, drummer Bailey Fiste, and synthesizer Donovan Hemphill; this was their first show in a year and a half.

“The lineup is going to be changing soon because Ethan is getting married and has work full-time so things just got difficult,” Esperes said. “We’re moving Graham to lead guitar and my buddy Will is going to be our new permanent bass player.”

He gives the story of the band’s name.

“I started recording the project and these songs when I lived on North Warren Ave, which is right off of Brady Street on the East Side. I went to school for audio production so it was kind of just me experimenting in my room every night after work and school, just getting some sounds and furthering my songwriting craft.”

He released an EP titled “Glue” about a month ago.

“When I was writing it, I didn’t really know what to do with North Warren anymore because I came out with a couple singles and an album, and I knew I wanted to be making more songs but the way I had previously been songwriting kind of put me in a rut where it was a lot more difficult to spit them out. “Glue” became a new approach to songwriting, which I think has worked really well and I plan to continue doing. The title “Glue” plays into the themes of all the songs; the way I interpret this EP is me talking about myself and the world and the things that really glue me back together when I’m feeling sad, having existential dread, or just dealing with everyday stress. The first song “No Exit” is one of my favorites because it’s so cathartic and simple to play yet the lyrics hold a lot of weight. “Life’s A Beach” is about that everyday stress. “Sentimental” is a personal song about some things I went through and talks about friendships or relationships that you think are falling apart. “Dyed in the Wool” is the most lyrically dense song and probably the most personal one; I’m talking about myself and the way I honestly cope with things.”

Finally, Esperes gives insight on what’s to come in the next few months for North Warren.

“From now until the end of the year I have a bunch of shows lined up. We’re going to play more of the EP in different spots; we’ve got a couple house shows plus we’re playing Cactus Club and potentially The Miramar.”

North Warren’s next show is at 17 W. Walker on October 23rd.

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