By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 09, 2007 at 5:21 AM

Back in January, OnMilwaukee.com told you that Milwaukee’s own Northern Room had inked a deal with Japan’s BM.3 Records.

"We are hopeful that it will help establish Northern Room and spread our music. Right now we are in the process of building a team and getting a story started," guitarist Tony Olla told OnMilwaukee at the time.

Now the band has taken the next step with the “Only Seconds” EP recorded at Burst HQ in downtown Wauwatosa with Daniel Holter. The four soaring, ready-for-the-stadium songs were added to the band’s six-song “Last Embrace” EP -- released last year -- to create Northern Room’s debut Japanese CD, released last month.

Asked what drew him to work with the band, Holter says, "great people, great voice, and we all thought it would be a productive partnership. They were at the stage that working with a producer, and entrusting some decisions to him, would take their songs to the next level, but that's different for each artist. The next level to some might be more arty, less focused, taking more chances. in this case, with Northern Room, we all agreed that they would benefit from tighter arrangements and pop sensibilities."

And that's a pretty good description of the resulting “Only Seconds,” available as a stand-alone EP in the U.S. for now.

As the band readies its release -- and before it heads out to New York for a gig -- we asked Northern Room’s lead singer Andrew Jonathan for an update.

OMC: Update us on what's up with the band since we talked to you in January. Is the full-length now out in Japan?

AJ: Yes, “Last Embrace,” the full-length version, was released on Friday, April 6 throughout the country of Japan.  We shot our first short-form music video for the song "Last Embrace" in Brooklyn in February.  We have been busy re-working our live show, as well; trying to incorporate some different elements of comedy and tragedy.  We are going for something along the lines of Shakespeare clashing with U2.

OMC: We have a copy of the new "Only Seconds" EP. Are these the four songs that were added to "Last Embrace" for the Japanese CD?

AJ: Yes, these were the four new songs that we chose out of a total of 10 contenders.

OMC: Was it hard combining the two EPs into a single full-length, considering that they were recorded at different times with different producers, etc.?

AJ: Not so much.  As a matter of fact we completely ignored the fact that we were combining them.  We knew we had simply record the four strongest songs possible.

We didn't want to consider doing anything else.  I believe you can't control cohesiveness throughout a record.  It just happens by accident.  I think the record ended up sounding like one statement, though.

OMC: What has the response been like in Japan?

AJ: Everything has been positive thus far.  The record has received three out of four stars in a number of music magazines and we are receiving emails every week from new fans that either heard us on the radio in Japan or read an article in a Japanese music magazine.

OMC: Will you guys go there to tour and to promote the CD?

AJ: It depends on the sales of the album.  Our label is basically waiting to pull the trigger on launching a tour.  I think they are wanting to see sales of at least 10,000 units first before they would fly us over.

OMC: What's happening back here in the U.S.? Will the full-length come out here, too?

AJ: We just released "Only Seconds" here in the U.S. -- a new EP that has the four new songs that we added to "Last Embrace."  We don't have any plans to release a full-length album in the States, yet.

OMC: What's next? Are you recording material for the next record yet or is that a ways off?

AJ: We'll most likely record another EP this fall.  We have enough material for a dozen albums but it's difficult to raise enough money as an independent artist to continually record.  So, expect more new music to be released by the end of the year.  Just make sure you pick up a copy of our new EP, “Only Seconds.” 

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.