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Juliana Hatfield, Nada Surf's Matthew Caws Form Minor Alps

Debut album Get There set for Oct. 29 release

August 12, 2013  |  8:00am
Juliana Hatfield, Nada Surf's Matthew Caws Form Minor Alps

For the first time in almost two decades, Matthew Caws has a new project. The songwriter, best known for his work in Nada Surf, has teamed up with Juliana Hatfield—formerly of Some Girls and Blake Babies—for a new project called Minor Alps.

The name was taken from Caws’ description of Mont Ventoux—the mountain that overlooked his parents’ cottage in France, a place he spent many childhood summers. While Mont Ventoux is technically considered part of the Alps, it often isn’t recognized because of the lack of surrounding mountains. So, in a conversation between Caws and photographer Autumn De Wilde, a “Minor Alp” was born.

The project was a slow-building collaboration, one that has roots in the early ‘90s, when Caws, a fan of Hatfield’s work in the Blake Babies, met the songwriter at some of Nada Surf’s early shows. From there, they shared vocal duties on Hatfield’s “Such a Beautiful Girl” and a Nada Surf b-side “I Wanna Take You Home.”

“We eventually asked each other to sing harmonies on songs on each other’s records,” Caws told Paste. “Over the last few years, we’ve taken turns suggesting we do something together. The timing was right for both of us this year, so away we went.

“From the first session singing on one of her songs, I had a great feeling in the studio, like we were speaking the same language. Her melodies have always seemed familiar to me, as if our ancestors came from the same town.” Hatfield echoed the sentiment in a statement, saying “In certain ranges, the tones of our voices are so similar I can’t tell which is which. I haven’t experienced that with any other singer.”

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The fruits of the collaboration are now about to be shared in the upcoming album Get There, which is set for an Oct. 29 release through Barsuk. The duo shares lead vocal duties, along with co-writing credits, on all of the album’s 11 tracks, which were mostly recorded with Caws’ childhood friend Tom Beaujour in Hoboken, N.J. A press release describes the album’s array of tones, which features raw electric guitars, dub-tinged electronics and droning six-strings.

“Juliana and I have have exactly the same role, there are no divided specialties,” Caws said of working with Hatfield. “That’s not to say that in Nada Surf we have totally set roles, we’ll all change places now and again, but we do tend to stick to certain areas, whether it’s how a song should feel or how it’s gotten across.” 

The album also included drums and programming from Parker Kindred (Jeff Buckley, Antony and the Johnsons) and Chris Egan (Solange), with Caws and Hatfield tackling every other instrument.

We’ll be looking out for new songs. In the meantime, you can mark your calendars for Oct. 29.

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