I met musician and songwriter Noah Gundersen at 9lb Hammer, a dive bar in Georgetown. We chatted over beer about his favorite Seattle spots, what influences his songwriting and playing shows at home. Gundersen’s new album, “Carry the Ghost” is out now.
On his neighborhood: “I love going to Seward Park. It’s beautiful. It’s crazy—you can walk through the middle of the park and its all this old-growth forest, and it’s five minutes from restaurants.”
On other favorite spots: "I love Add-A-Ball and Full Tilt. Geraldine's [Counter for] breakfast and lunch, Ezell's Chicken, Flying Squirrel Pizza ... Go to Liberty for the best cocktails in Seattle. Liberty and Tavern Law. There is also free pool at The Nabob on Queen Anne."
On his picks for Seattle music: "I love the first two Pearl Jam records. "In Utero" is my favorite Nirvana record. David Bazan, The Long Winters, Jimi Hendrix—it's hard to choose."
On Seattle’s incredible growth: “I think we’re in this transition phase. People thought it would be gradual change, but to have it happen in 3-4 years? We’re all having this culture shock. It’s change, and change is normal, but it is how fast it’s happening.”
On leaving the city: “I’m grateful to have the opportunity to tour across the United States. For a time, I thought that I should live somewhere else, but there’s nowhere else like [Seattle]. We’re a liberal city, an art city—I can’t imagine—when spring comes around and things start blooming, there’s nowhere as beautiful.”
On returning home after touring: "The first three things I do: Banya 5, St. Clouds, Georgetown [to see friends]. The most amazing eggs benedict in town is at St. Clouds in Madrona. They use cubed spicy ham on rustic bread."
On whether he’s inspired by Seattle: “I don’t feel like I’m consciously inspired by the environment. There is a lot of Nordic heritage here, and that culture allows people to be in their own head. This place is a good environment for the creative process, but I don’t look at the mountains and write a song about it.”
On playing shows at home: “For me, I’ve always kind of felt like I have a Seattle fan base, but I never felt like a local darling. It’s nice to come home and play a show and have friends in the audience, but also have strangers in the audience. I love playing here. It’s great to think back at all the venues: My very first Seattle show was at The Mix around the corner. It was like four people in 2008. From there I went to coffee shops, the Tractor [Tavern], the Triple Door, the Crocodile, to selling out the Neptune. Playing at home is a practice in gratitude.”