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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Megan Voorhees
Megan Voorhees
Assistant News Editor

Hi! I’m Megan Voorhees and I’m the Assistant News Editor at The Northwind! I was first introduced to journalism my sophomore year of high school and I’ve been in love with the profession and writing...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion — Its okay to outgrow your college friends
Opinion — It's okay to outgrow your college friends
Megan PoeApril 12, 2024

Indie rock turns into a family affair

Life on the road can be chaotic for indie-rock duo Mates of State. The chaos, however, is of a different sort than most rock acts.

Drummer and vocalist Jason Hammel and his organ-playing wife Kori Gardner, who both handle vocals for Mates of State, don’t lead a parade of party animals and groupies. Their traveling act is much more of a family circus.

“Right now, we have the two kids, Kori and I, a nanny, a sound guy and our tour manager,” Hammel explains via cell phone while settling into his seat on the 2:40 p.m. flight from Phoenix to Minneapolis. “It’s been one of those hectic days.”

As Hammel talks, his four-year-old daughter Magnolia chatters in the background. His other daughter, 9-month-old June, is attempting to nap in Gardner’s backpack carrier.

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Mates of State is in the midst of The Re-Arranger Tour, in support of their fifth studio album “Re-Arrange Us,” released in May. The tour now moves from the southwest to the Midwest, including a stop in Marquette Thursday.

“We talk about it sometimes, about how lucky we are to have each other for support and be able to do what we love and manage it with a family,” he says while a flight attendant makes the usual announcements before takeoff.

The group formed in 1997, followed with five albums, two EPs and a tour schedule wrapping the globe like silly string. This summer, they hit the festival circuit with shows at Lollapalooza, All Points West and Wakarusa. Hammel says they’re able to keep such a regiment because wherever the band goes, the kids come as well.

“They’re used to traveling,” he says. “Mags can pull her suitcase, and when it goes sideways she knows how to twist it and get it back on the wheels.”

Hammel and Gardner met in college at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. The two played in different bands in the local club scene, so it was inevitable their paths would cross.

“One night our bands played together, and she fell in love with me at first sight,” Hammel says with a laugh.

The two began to date before playing together. They knew, both being songwriters and in bands, that there was musical potential. The problem was, when they finally sat down to practice together for the first time three weeks into their dating, there was fear that if the music didn’t work out it would end their relationship.

“We went out to practice and we pulled out our guitars and they were these complimentary colored guitars – we had the exact same guitar, so it was weird – and we were like ‘OK, it’s going to be all right.'”

The decade that followed was like a plot from a MySpace generation fairy tale. Mates of State eventually married and slowly built up a following with indie fan hits “Like U Crazy” and “Fraud in the 80s.”

They continued to release album after album, including “Re-Arrange Me,” which cracked the Billboard Top 200, and toured in support of Spoon and Death Cab for Cutie. Recently, they starred in a television ad for AT&T, and moved to their current home in Connecticut, where they’ve struck a perfect middle-ground between two worlds.

“We’re like 50 miles from New York City, so we have that there to meet with the people that work for the label, the publicists and stuff,” Hammel says. “And at the same time, we have the quiet little house in the countryside.”

As the Phoenix to Minneapolis flight readies for takeoff, the attendant orders all wireless devices turned off. Hammel, who has MGMT on heavy rotation on his iPod and copies of Rolling Stone, Wired and The Economist at his disposal, prepares for another city in another part of the country.

Although always appreciative of his situation — traveling the world, doing what he loves with those he loves — Hammel and his family aren’t satisfied with what they’ve accomplished.

“We always feel like we have more to do. We’re young; we have a lot of life ahead of us,” he says.

For more information, visit their Web site at www.matesofstate.com.

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