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Northstar Frontman Nick Torres on the 20th Anniversary of 'Pollyanna'

'It's like a snapshot in time for me.'

Source: Michael Dubin // instagram.com/michaeldubin

Northstar frontman Nick Torres doesn't spend a lot of time thinking about his old band, but he's still proud of what they accomplished on 2004's 'Pollyanna.'

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Northstar is just a distant memory for Nick Torres, but the frontman is still proud of what his old band accomplished with their second and final album Pollyanna. The record turns 20 on Saturday, April 20.

They may not be the most well-known 2000s emo band, but many of the genre's most dedicated fans hold Northstar in high regard. Tracks like "Two Zero Two," "The Pornographers Daughter" and "To My Better Angel" are an artful fusion of young adult angst, urgent songwriting and a keen pop sensibility.

"It's like a snapshot in time for me," Torres told Q.

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Source: Michael Dubin // instagram.com/michaeldubin

The record came out on April 20, 2004 – exactly 20 years ago today.

He and fellow guitarist Tyler Odom were at the core of Northstar during the band's commercial and creative peak.

The pair grew up together in Huntsville, Alabama, where Torres said there was a "surprisingly" strong punk scene. He was in a Screeching Weasel cover band at one point and cited Jawbreaker as a major influence.

Torres and Odom were not part of Northstar's first lineup. It was originally more of a melodic hardcore act. Torres was still in high school when he joined. He brought Odom on board about a year later.

After releasing a series of demos, Northstar caught the attention of Neil Rubenstein. These days he's a comedian, but at the time he was a stalwart of the Long Island hardcore scene.

Rubenstein helped Northstar forge connections on the east coast that later led to tours with Taking Back Sunday, Senses Fail and The Starting Line.

Northstar signed to Triple Crown Records and released its full-length debut Is This Thing Loaded? in 2002.

The record helped the band gain some traction, but Torres isn't a big fan. The recording process was rushed which led to a "raw" final product. He also feels that the lyrics he wrote as a 17-year-old haven't aged well.

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The band was looking to switch things up with their sophomore effort. They wanted to do something more "polished" and "sparkly" like many of the of the popular emo records coming out at the time, Torres said.

Bassist Jake Fisher was added to the lineup before Northstar went into the studio. He died in 2017.

"He was a great musician, the best musician in the band by far," Torres said. "When he joined the band that's when we started doing harmonies live, as well."

The group spent a few weeks recording Pollyanna with a young Matt Squire in College Park, Maryland.

The producer was still relatively unknown at the time. This was before he hit it big with his work on Panic! at the Disco's hit 2005 album A Fever You Can't Sweat Out.

Torres said Squire put a lot of effort into Pollyanna because he knew it would open doors for him in the industry.

"He had a lot of good ideas for the record," the frontman said. "He wasn't afraid to tell us, 'that's a bad idea.'"

Torres added that Squire is a skilled guitarist in his own right: "I think that helps him a lot."

Source: Michael Dubin // instagram.com/michaeldubin

'It's like a snapshot in time for me,' Torres said of the album.

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The album was well received, but the frontman said Northstar was facing some interpersonal and financial issues at the time.

He and the other band members didn't have wealthy parents who could help keep the project rolling. Torres had to get a day job following Pollyanna's release.

"I didn't really have a good experience playing music and touring," he said. "I never made money, I didn't have health insurance. I basically couldn't keep up with myself."

It was around this time that Torres watched Be Here to Love Me, a 2004 documentary about country legend Townes Van Zandt. This had a huge impact on the musician. It felt similar to when he heard Jawbreaker for the first time.

Northstar disbanded, but Torres and Odom continued making music together under a new alt-country project called Cassino.

"We wanted to go in a different musical direction and it didn't really make sense to release it under the name Northstar," Torres said.

They recorded a three song demo with Squire and Will Noon of Straylight Run. Many Northstar fans loved the new project, as well.

"Our fans are pretty supportive," Torres said. "It wasn't like a Jawbreaker situation."

Source: Michael Dubin // instagram.com/michaeldubin

He and guitarist Tyler Odom went on to create the alt-country project Cassino.

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Cassino still exists, but it's relatively dormant. Odom is no longer part of the project.

Cassino has still remained somewhat collaborative. Northstar's drummer Gabe Renfroe was featured on the project's latest LP Yellowhammer, which came out in 2020.

Nowadays Cassino is a personal passion project for Torres, who lives in Nashville. He has no interest in touring. When he's not working his IT job, his energy is directed toward his 3-year-old son.

Northstar is mostly just a piece of history for the frontman, but he spent some time reflecting on the band last year when he released a series of demos and alternate tracks under the title Broken Parachute.

Those looking for more Northstar can also check out the band's 2005 concert video/documentary The Uncomfortable Camera.


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