Former American Idol judge Randy Jackson has worked with most of the best performers of the last 30 years — Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen and Madonna. He sees something missing in the modern musical climate, what he calls “old-school, old-fashioned artist development.” In the Internet age, artists can blow up faster than ever — but they may not develop the skills and infrastructure that allow them to stay at the top once they suddenly arrive there.
Jackson believes in giving artists the tools they need to maintain longevity, and right now, his focus is on the band North of Nine. The five-piece band — centered on lead-singer Jackson Guthy — is releasing their debut EP, Alive, this March. Today Billboard is exclusively premiering a video of the group playing the EP’s lead single, “Can It Be You,” live in the studio. Watch it below.
“Can It Be You” mixes the buoyant piano of a hit like Maroon 5‘s “This Love” with a tough rock bite: Guthy has a potent voice with a gravelly edge, while guitarist Michael O’Grady slathers riffs around the beat. “Can It Be You” has the swagger of a hit, but it’s not even Guthy’s favorite song on the EP — that distinction belongs to “Alone.” “You can get lost in the song,” he says.
Jackson is very pleased with the band so far: “It’s really doing swimmingly well,” he tells Billboard. He’s been working with Guthy for a couple years now. “I heard a bunch of demos,” Jackson remembers. “Then I saw a video, then I met him and kind of fell in love with his talent and his songwriting capability. It all naturally came together. That’s my whole thing: if things fall into place… you know you’re on the right path. There’s no pushback when you’re on the right path.”
Guthy, who started as a soloist, also expresses his excitement — both about being in a band and about working with Jackson. “I’ve always loved the thought of having people walk on stage with me,” he explains. “Especially these guys, my friends. It’s a much more collaborative process… It’s nice to look behind you and know the people you’re playing with are equals in sharing this story. Randy has been one of the first people to truly believe in my abilities,” Guthy continues. “I strive every day to make him proud.”
North Of Nine will be playing a series of shows in March. “A band is about a live thing,” Jackson notes, and he describes North Of Nine shows as “hot.” Check out those tour dates below and look for the Alive EP on March 10th.
March 5 Los Angeles, CA – Mrs Fish
March 10 Los Angeles, CA – The Satellite
March 16 Austin, TX – McDonalds Showcase (SXSW)
March 17 Austin, TX – Yahoo! Showcase (SXSW)
March 21 Austin, TX – LoudFund Stage, Chuggin’ Monkey (SXSW)
March 27 Napa Valley, CA – Live in the Vineyard
June 14 Fort Collins, CO – 99.9 The Point’s Taste of Ft. Collins Festival