On An On’s Nathan Eiesland on Breaking Up the Band, New Music

The singer/guitarist on the split: "If we kill a brand, fuck that, who cares?"



Experimental pop trio On An On have announced an indefinite hiatus. The band released two studio albums (2013’s Give In, and 2015’s And the Wave Has Two Sides) and spent much of the last four years touring the U.S. and Europe. Eiesland, keyboardist Alissa Ricci and bassist Ryne Estwing worried that the band was becoming a bit too “Hollywood,” and perhaps the time was right for each to individually pursue other creative ventures.

“It’s very bittersweet,” vocalist/guitarist Nathan Eiesland says of the split.

On An On realized, explains Eiesland, “that we have more power to do what we want still, and if we kill a brand, fuck that, who cares? I think that the people who are really fans of On An On are actually fans of us as artists and as people.” And they are banking on those fans following them down their new paths. It’s not a sad breakup moment for the band, Eiesland says. “It’s more like a tree splitting into a couple branches. It’s growing into something even more than it could be.”

Estwing has just finished mastering a record for his side project Louis, and he also has an electronic duo in the works called Mlmo. Ricci is taking a “Dada-ist” approach to creating “art-driven sonic pieces” – creating ambient music and sound sculptures.

Eiesland is focusing on one project with the potential to turn the music industry upside down. “I’m going to start a band with the whole world,” he says. He doesn’t have all the details and mechanisms figured out just yet, but he does have some clear ideas of the possibilities. “It’s not an anti-music industry, but it is a music anti-industry.”

The impetus came from a project he started a few years ago, recording every song, every bit of music he worked on, taking in all the mistakes, the wrong roads, the highlights and low. “Then,” he says, “I started talking to the recordings in a kind of schizophrenic way, and eventually it evolved into the concept of when I’m writing the recording is happening and I’m talking to the recording as if it’s you sitting in the room with me and we’re making this music together and we’re feeling around in the dark together.”

He loves the idea of letting fans in on the process, on the “pre-music music.” “The magical part for me is when the idea isn’t there and then all of a sudden it is and the song is there.”

He’s calling the project Como, after a neighborhood in his hometown of Minneapolis, and he’s hoping it will free him as a musician to continue to write some of his best songs and connect with fans on a new level. When he tours, he expects to be playing more house parties than the large venues he’s grown accustomed to playing throughout his career. “I get so much more from playing for 10 people in a living room and actually getting to talk to those people about what the stuff means to them and what it means to me,” Eiesland says.

Most of the recordings shared with his fans will be pretty simple, often just him and a piano. “People just want it to be sincere and someone to distill what it’s like to be alive,” he says. “That’s what I love about the music that I love. It’s just you living your life but you’re letting me in in this deep kaleidoscopic way.”

— Stephanie Wargin

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