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November 2006 - Humland

Humland - photo by Paige Postlewait

Although you might have seen the name Humland popping up on venue calendars every now and again, you'll probably start seeing it a lot more, but it won't be what it used to be. Matt Martinowski played as a solo act, or played with friends under the name Humland, but what now has taken form as Humland it truly a band in it's own right as Matt, Aaron and Ethan told me.

SCS: Humland in name has been around for a while, but this is kind of the launch of the “real” Humland, right?

Aaron: Humland was tossed around as Matt's performing name for a while, but this band is something totally new and not related to his other solo work. We all contribute equally, it's everyone's band.

Matt: Humland is a name that has been around for a while but like Aaron said this is a completely different project. When were started talking about names I mentioned Humland since I had only use it a few times and still liked the sound of it.

SCS: Who else is in the band with you, and how did you hook up with Aaron, post-Marianas?

Matt: Humland is:
Ethan: Guitar (formerly of KellerHamilton)
Jed: Bass (formerly of KellerHamilton)
Nick: Drums (also in Tenth Horse/The Amalgamators)
Matt: Guitar/Vocals (formerly of The W.T.)
Aaron: Guitar (formerly of Marianas)

Aaron: Matt and I had been tossing around the idea of working on songs for years now, but it just never happened or took off. Then Matt moved away, then Matt moved back, then we played some softball, then I convinced Matt that we should do it. Apparently Matt's been after Ethan for a while as well, and things just lined up, KellerHamilton was winding down so Ethan and Jed were available, and we recruited Nick to fill it out.

SCS: How would you describe your band or your sound to someone who’s never heard or seen you?

Matt: Three guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, and vocals.

Aaron: Well, our sound hasn't really made itself known to even us yet. Most of our songs started as instrumental and could've almost stayed that way, but Matt's been adding vocals as needed, when inspired. The songs just aren't far enough along to really say what we'll end up sounding like ultimately, but in my opinion fans of Broken Social Scene, Do Make Say Think, Explosions In The Sky, Mogwai and the like might be into what we're doing.

SCS: What can people expect when they come to see Humland live?

Ethan: A fucking rock show.

Matt: Probably me getting hit in the head by Ethan's guitar.

SCS: What types of music and which musicians/groups influenced the band members?

Aaron: I've never really been able to quantify who my influences are. Everything that I like and listen to makes its way into my playing I suppose. I don't try to sound like anything or anybody in particular.

Ethan: I adopted a lot of my playing from the Kinsella brothers, and Dave Knudson (Minus the Bear). The Appleseed Cast also played a huge roll in my growth as a musician. I just let it take me wherever it wanted to go.

Matt: I'm a big fan of Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Elliot Smith, and Nick Drake... but that doesn't influence what my part in the band is. American Football, Minus The Bear, Aphex Twin, Sigur Ros.

SCS: What are your goals for this band, touring, just playing around town?

Aaron: As with Marianas, i'd just love to make a beautiful album, something to hold in my hand and enjoy and be proud of many years from now.

Ethan: In the near future, I would love to tour, and do it as much as we can. Recording a solid full length that pleases our ears would be ideal.

Matt: Recording a full length, and touring would be great.

SCS: Matt, are you writing the songs yourself, or is it more of a group effort now. how do you work songs from the idea stage to the finished product?

Aaron: As I mentioned before, we all contribute but generally it's been Ethan and/or Matt presenting us with the musical start of a song, and then we all start playing around with it, and adding our colors and touches while we play. I believe the inspiration for the 2nd half of "Kong/Song Of Kong" (not that anyone will know what song that is) was something I got the ball rolling on, other than that it's been Matt and Ethan kick starting the ideas. And Matt specifically handling vocal duties when they happen. I've made a concerted effort to stand in the shadows in this project. I was such a control freak with Marianas and it stressed and burned us all out in that band. I wanted to try letting other people handle the lion's share and I would add what I could to make the song even better.

Ethan: As many bands would say, we work it together. One of us will usually bring in an idea, but we all work off of it. I don't think one person tells another person to play this and that, or to sing it this way without at least having everyone agree on it. It's neat to see how all of our songs come out because everyone's personal influences are so different.

Matt: Everything is written as a band, one of us may start with some small part and then we all just join in with our own ideas.

SCS: What do you like and dislike about the music scene in Lincoln?

Aaron: I dunno, i'm old and out of the loop these days. I like the Star City Scene message board, most of the time.

Ethan: I dislike how everyone seems to be stuck in a mindset of what they're going to see. It's as if they won't go see a show just because they haven't heard the name before. I always atleast look into a band before I declare them unworthy =) There are amazing musicians out there that aren't getting the respect they need. I played in KellerHamilton for 2 years, and we played countless numbers of shows in Lincoln. It felt like no one came out to see us other than 13 year old girls who thought we were cute, and it left me feeling like we were never 'accepted' by the scene. Because we never played as Duffy's, I feel like we missed out on a lot.

Matt: The lack of live support, when I lived in Seattle or even St. Louis people would come out to see shows even if they had no idea who the band was. But i don't really see that here.

SCS: Who are some local bands or musicians that you admire or feel should be recognized?

Aaron: I love what The Golden Age are doing. They're the best thing going on in Lincoln right now. Eagle*Seagull is surely a great band, but I haven't been able to latch on to them at all really. The Bad Sects and Crush The Clown have some stuff that's gotten me pretty excited. My sister Kim Starlin is doing some great solo stuff, people should check her out.

Ethan: Tie These Hands, for sure. I can speak for Jed, and myself when I say that those guys brought us into the local scene. Right now there is a band just starting out with Jerrod Hopkins (KellerHamilton), Mike Evnen (Grey - Tones), Saber Blazek (grey - tones), and Matty (JVA). They have incredible potential, and are all great musicians.

Matt: Tie These Hands, The Golden Age, Crush the Clown, Kim Starlin, Ideal Cleaners, Blake Kempton.

SCS: Are you working on an album now, and if so, when do you expect it to come out?

Aaron: We're still just writing the songs. We've only got 4 that are playable live, but even those still need quite a bit of work to be ready to put to tape.

Ethan: No official plans for recording.

SCS: Was there one defining moment which led you to a life of rock and roll?

Aaron: I don't live a life of rock and roll. I listen to more than I write or play, and I'm quite the hermit in my old age. But it's been great getting at least a little taste by working with these guys and playing our first show the other day.

Ethan: I think after my first tour I knew exactly that this is what I wanted to do.

Matt: The first time i heard "Waiting Room" by Fugazi I knew I wanted to make music.

What was the first album/CD you bought?

Aaron: Umm, the first music I bought for myself was three 45's...The Police - "Spirits In The Material World", Duran Duran - "Is There Something I Should Know", Little River Band "Man On Your Mind".

Ethan: I think it was Green Day "Kerplunk".

Matt: Faith No More "Epic"

SCS: The most recent?

Aaron: The last few things I acquired...Tarentel - "Ghetto Beats On The Surface Of The Sun (Vol. 1 & 2) (2006), Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - "Floating Weeds" (2006), Eddie Kendricks - "People... Hold On" (1972), Boston - "Boston / Remastered" (1976)

Matt: I can't really remember, umm...Man Man - "Six Demon Bag", crush Kill Destroy - "Metric Midnight"

SCS: List off your top five albums of all time.

Aaron: This is easy because i'm a freak and already compiled my Top 100...
05. The Rolling Stones "Exile On Main St." (The greatest rock n’ roll record ever)
04. Stevie Wonder "Talking Book" (A creative masterpiece)
03. Radiohead "Kid A" (Finding a balance between the odd and the even)
02. Neil Finn "One Nil" (Tears of joy)
01. Talk Talk "Spirit Of Eden" (The greatest "music" ever committed to tape)

Matt: I can't really answer that question, but over the years i've always keep these albums close...
Nick Drake "Five Leaves Left"
AC/DC "Highway to Hell"
Bob Dylan "Blood on the tracks"
Sonic Youth "Sister"
Tom Waits "Closing Time"
Bruce Springsteen "Nebraska"

SCS: What single song, in the entire history of music, do you most wish you'd written?

Aaron: "Cliffs Of Dover" by Eric Johnson. No, I dunno, just kidding. That is a great song though.

Matt: Again, I can't really answer that, but maybe "Angeles" by Elliot Smith.

SCS: What’s the best gig you've ever seen, local or otherwise?

Aaron: Every time I see The Flaming Lips, it's the best day of my life.

Ethan: Mogwai in Berlin, Germany.

SCS: Who or What do you think is the embodiment of evil in the music industry?

Aaron: Eh, I dunno, any music that matters these days is pretty much small label stuff. Brothers and sisters are doin' it for themselves.

Matt: Nickleback or anything along those lines.

SCS: What can we look forward to in the next year from the band?

Aaron: Meager goals... good music, I hope. Good shows, I hope.

Ethan: A record, lots of shows (in and out of town), friendship =)

Matt: Recordings of good music, and shows, shows, shows...

- Tery Daly