Category: interview

Interview: Walker Kong

If the Twin Cities has an answer to the literate, charmingly tuneful pop songcraft of Belle And Sebastian, or the Kinks songs that populate Wes Anderson movie soundtracks, it’s surely Walker Kong, which enlivened the Minnesota music scene with four albums of breezy indie-rock in the late ’90s and early 2000s. The band took a long break after releasing the stellar but underheard Deliver Us From People, in part because bandleader Jeremy Ackerman and his wife, backing vocalist Alex Ackerman, moved to Wisconsin, where Jeremy is a high-school art teacher. But over time, a new album began to piece its way together, and the group is now set to re-emerge with the new Phazes Of Light. Optimistic and elegiac by turns, Phazes reflects on the journey through life from childhood to adulthood and beyond, a theme inspired in no small part by the untimely death of founding member Sara Vargas in a traffic accident in 2009. In advance of Walker Kong’s upcoming shows June 2 at Bryant-Lake Bowl and June 22 at Amsterdam Bar, Jeremy Ackerman talked with The A.V. Club about the new album and the new phase of Walker Kong.

Originally published June 1, 2012 on Read the complete article.

Interview: Dylan Hicks

Dylan Hicks first made his name in the 1990s as a musician, writing a bushelful of witty, sharply observant songs on his albums Won, Poughkeepsie, and Alive With Pleasure. And although he’s reinvented himself as a fiction writer, the love of music still plays a key role in Hicks’ new debut novel, Boarded Windows. Moving between the 1970s and 1990s, Windows tells the story of an erudite but socially hapless record-store clerk and his conflicted relationship with Wade Salem, his con-artist father figure and one-time bass player for fictional country-music star Bolling Greene. Hicks hosts a launch party for Boarded Windows May 10 at the Loft Literary Center and a record-release show for a companion album, Dylan Hicks Sings Bolling Greene, May 12 at Bryant-Lake Bowl. He talked to The A.V. Club about writing his novel, returning to songwriting, and crossing the line between truth and fiction.

Originally published May 9, 2012 on Read the complete article.

Interview: Saltee

On paper, the idea of combining cello, beatboxing, and guitar seems like an improbable mix, and maybe even a recipe for gimmicky disaster. And the members of Saltee know it: Terrell “Carnage” Woods, the trio’s breathtakingly inventive beatboxer, even jokes that “We should do a song called ‘Shouldn’t Work.’” But thanks to its formidable talent and improvisational skills, the group makes magic instead, weaving classical, hip-hop and Robert Fripp-style experimental rock with a dazzling musical alchemy. In advance of Saltee’s release show for its new four-song EP CrossPolyNation May 12 at the Cedar Cultural Center, Woods, cellist Jacqueline Ultan, and guitarist Mike Michel talked to The A.V. Club.

Originally published May 8, 2012 on Read the complete article.

Interview: The Pines

Guitarists and songwriters Benson Ramsey and David Huckfelt both grew up in the Iowa folk scene, where Ramsey’s father Bo is a major figure. But they came into their own as musicians when they moved to Minneapolis and formed The Pines, recording four albums of understated but richly resonant indie-folk in the vein of Bon Iver, Calexico, and Mason Jennings, who they opened for on his recent national tour. Their latest, Dark So Gold, gets its release show Feb. 17 at the Cedar Cultural Center. Ramsey and Huckfelt talked to The A.V. Club about the beauty and hope behind sad songs, how they keep their musical partnership going long distance, and their Iowa connection.

The PINES – Cry, Cry, Crow (Official Music Video) from The PINES on Vimeo.

Originally published Feb. 17, 2012 on Read the complete article.

Interview: Martin Zellar

Songwriter Martin Zellar made his name as the leader of The Gear Daddies, which earned a cult following for blending weary-but-wry country-rock with raw, Replacements-style emotional vulnerability on 1988’s Let’s Go Scare Al and 1990’s Billy’s Live Bait. To Zellar’s bemused irritation, though, he’s best known for a jaunty sports-themed novelty song, “Zamboni,” which landed on the soundtrack to Disney’s The Mighty Ducks and still can be heard at hockey rinks around the country. After the Daddies broke up in 1992, Zellar moved on to a solo career, soon forming a new backing band, the Hardways, which plays frequently throughout the Midwest despite the fact that Zellar now lives in central Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende. Despite his busy concert schedule, Zellar hasn’t released a new studio album since 2002’s Scattered—which he’s about to change with Rooster’s Crow, recorded in Texas and chronicling his first few years in Mexico. Zellar and the Hardways play Rooster’s CD-release show Feb. 10 at the Fine Line. While in Minnesota in January, he talked with The A.V. Club about the new album and life as an expatriate indie musician.

Originally published Feb. 9, 2012 on Read the complete article.

Interview: Father You See Queen

After moody electronica duo To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie disbanded last year, instrumentalist Mark McGee branched out in many directions, founding improvisational group Votel and lending a hand to electro-hardcore act Marijuana Deathsquads. But his chief project is another duo—Father You See Queen, pairing him with vocalist Nicole “Mona” Tollefson and specializing in an elegant, icy, even eerie sound that moves beyond To Kill’s territory without losing sight of its borders. The duo also share a common interest in accentuating their music with visual art; McGee says one reason they signed with Chicago label Flingco Sound System was a common desire “to make the packaging just as important as the actual music.” While their six-song EP, titled 47, isn’t officially out until April, FYSQ’s Jan. 20 show at 7th Street Entry marks the unveiling of a special limited-edition set of 36 handcrafted music boxes—each unique, containing a download code for the album and a scattering of ashes and hair hiding another secret underneath. Created by artists Jason Wasyk and Danielle Voight with creative input from McGee and Tollefson, the boxes have a minimalist and deceptively simple design mask subtle allusive meaning. The A.V. Club talked with the band and the artists about the evolution of Father You See Queen’s sound and the thought behind the boxes.

Originally published Jan. 17 on Read the complete article.

Interview: New Monarchs

The New Monarchs began as a conventional four-piece rock combo, but they didn’t stay conventional for long, boiling down to a two-man electronic collaboration between lyricist-guitarist Sean Hogan and multi-instrumentalist Taylor Nelson. The duo’s 2008 debut, Blueprints, married glossy, processed beats with heart-on-sleeve, emotion-drenched pop, creating a sound the duo refined further on 2010’s five-song Electrocaching. The New Monarchs’ still-untitled sophomore full-length should be released later this year. In the meantime, the band has also put out Repeating Equation: Electrocaching Remixes, a track-by-track reworking of Electrocaching by compatriots in the local electronic scene including Askeleton and DJ Skullbuster. To celebrate the EP, they’ll play Jan. 7 at Cause with Ghost In The Water and Aaron & The Sea. The A.V. Club caught up with Hogan and Taylor to talk about the remix EP, the joys of a diverse music scene, and the benefits of appearing on Gossip Girl.

Originally published Jan. 6 on Read the complete article.

Interview: Chris Strouth of Paris 1919

Chris Strouth has been a pillar of the Twin Cities music scene for years, both on and off stage, as a performer, designer, producer, head of Twin/Tone Records, and prime mover of museum-friendly dub experimentalists Future Perfect Sound System, among other hats. His most recent project is Paris 1919, an electronic collective that grew out of his studio-bound, largely solo sonic collages into a live band that includes Boiled In Lead’s Drew Miller, Uzza vocalist Tabatha Predovich, and drummer Eric White. And sometimes many others—at this year’s Art-A-Whirl, Strouth helped mastermind the 30-musician improvisational ensemble project Czeslaw’s Loop. With three albums of moody, post-industrial ambience already under his belt, Strouth is in the midst of signing a deal with UK distributor State 51, home to like-minded experimentalists Current 93 and Throbbing Gristle. At the Ritz Theater on Saturday, an 11-member version of Paris 1919—also including Joe Hastings of Hastings 3000 and Blue Sky Blackout’s Jon Hunt—will spin a live soundtrack to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1927 serial-killer thriller, The Lodger: A Story Of The London Fog, an excellent early example of the dark, suspenseful, and macabrely funny Hitchcockian sensibility. Strouth sat down with The A.V. Club in advance of the show.

Originally published Nov. 10, 2011 on Read the complete article.

Interview: The Cloak Ox

After the implosion of his highly regarded but underheard experimental indie band Fog in 2007, it took a couple of years for Andrew Broder to chart a new course as a musician. That’s not to say he didn’t keep busy, releasing nearly seven hours of ambient Fripp/Eno-style instrumentals in 2009, recording the soundtrack for Alan Moore’s audiovisual project Unearthing last year, and touring as part of Anticon indie-rap group Why? But with his new band Cloak Ox, he’s laying down the most straightforward and hard-charging indie rock of his career, backed by three longtime friends and former Fog compatriots, bassist Mark Erickson, guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker, and drummer Martin Dosh. Cloak Ox plays a CD-release show for its debut EP Prisen Sept. 30 at Loring Theater. The A.V. Club met with the band after one of its weekly morning jam sessions—where the Creedence Clearwater Revival covers were the biggest clue how different this band is from Fog—to talk about the joys of keeping it simple.

Originally published Sept. 29, 2011 on Read the complete article.

Interview: Dead Man Winter

Trampled By Turtles’ 2010 album, Palomino, was a well-deserved breakthrough hit for the Duluthian bluegrass band, but that doesn’t mean bandleader Dave Simonett is shackled to a single style. With Dead Man Winter, a side project also featuring fellow Turtles Ryan Young and Tim Saxhaug, Simonett explores his country-rock side. The band’s debut disc, Bright Lights, echoes the rootsy, world-weary vibe of predecessors like Neil Young And The Band, as well as a more homegrown strain of Minnesota heartland-rockers like the Gear Daddies and the Glenrustles. It’s certainly not a drastic shift from the Turtles’ music in either sound or spirit; instead the new band’s sound is compellingly different but complementary. Bright Lights even shares a version of the song “New Orleans” with Palomino. The A.V. Club talked with Simonett in advance of Dead Man Winter’s show tonight at First Avenue about balancing his two bands.

Originally posted on Sept. 16, 2011. Read the complete article.

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