Twin Cities Music

Brass Tacks: This blog is all about giving fans of musicians extra insight into the artist. The questions can be hard hitting, funny or even sillly sometimes. We hope you enjoy.

Self Evident

Variously described as punk, indie, jazz, post, math, noise, and art-rock, Self-Evident are perhaps more aptly dubbed “transcendental”, encompassing all of these styles and more-often in a single three minute song with a strong melodic sense. The instrumentation is simple: bass/vocals, guitar/vocals, and drums.

They’ve been around in one form or another since 1997, and they’ve played anywhere and everywhere in that time.  They were nice enough to respond to a few of our questions. 

           self-evident photo

TCM:  Self Evident has been in existence since for many years now, which goes against the grain of the common life span of bands this day in age.  What’s the secret to your longevity, and how do you keep things from turning stale?  
SE:  We always try to mix it up at rehearsals and to always be working on at least one new song idea.  We’ve become a very tight-knit family, and we’re all pretty well rooted here in the Cities.  We don’t limit ourselves to writing within a particular genre or style, and we’re all equally involved in the creative process.  We’re too stubborn to give up when things aren’t working out perfectly.

Read More

No Frills. All Mules. The Rockford Mules

With 6 years and three albums of mud, song, and life on their collective boot The Rockford Mules are veterans to the Minneapolis scene and an answer to rock n roll that last existed decades ago. They have a dirty, driving, and unrelenting sound that resembles a holy bulldozer with a demon behind the wheel.  So says the tagline on their website, and so says their music.  The Rockford Mules are a well known band that caters to a rock hungry crowd and serves up southern fueled guitar driven grinds soaked in sweat, blood and some whiskey.  We had a chance to throw some questions their way.  Enjoy. 
TCM:  Seasoned Vets of the local scene, what is your take on the current state of our musical acumen here in Minneapolis?
Mules:  Its incredibly rich, healthy and thriving.  Its diverse and a blessing to be a part of.

Read More

What Tyrants, These Tyrants

I imagine myself seeing What Tyrants at a bar in a bourbon induced stupor and really loving it. With jangling piano lines, swinging beats and classic bluesy riffs, they definitely have an organic sound. Think of White Rabbits more piano based stuff, stripped down and with a more classic feel to it. TCM got a chance to ask the group a few questions about their upcoming LP and where they stand on cats. Enjoy. 

TCM: I see you have an LP release show on March 29th at the 400 Bar… tell us a little bit about the writing and recording process for the LP (Kill the Cat). What can people expect from this effort? Why do you hate cats? 

WT: The process was something that came about over a rather long period of time. About a year ago I began writing all of the songs on the album. It was my first time writing on the piano and I just set out to see what materialized. No expectations and no limits. Then in August I recorded demos of everything at my house and recruited the other guys in the band.

Playing together as a band really transformed the sound of everything…we were a bit more focused and confident in our sound. That will come out in this album. We did everything DIY, using free studio time at IPR to record drums, vocals, and piano, and finishing everything else up at the home of our friend/engineer/producer Caleb Hollenback. So, while its been a long process, its also felt very natural which is good.

And none of us hate cats haha….even though we’d probably consider ourselves dog people. The title came from our friend Danny, who does photography for us. We were taking pictures with his cat while wielding knifes and he cracked a joke that we should call our LP Kill the Cat. Its pretty funny, but it does speak to this notion of “violence” that is apparent on the record.

TCM: You’ve got some brotherly love in your group, what’s it like working with a sibling? I’m sure you guys always agree on everything, right?

WT: I’m sure our parents would disagree, but we do get along very well. We’ve played music together for so many years…since elementary school….that its just easy to sit down and jam on something and share thoughts. We are both very easy going people too, so that helps.

TCM: I read in your bio that the Brothers Schultz have produced albums with artists like POS in the past. Give us a few projects that you’ve worked on and what it’s like producing.

WT: Working with POS was a great experience because we were young and playing in our high school band…some pseudo-hardcore thing called Chaplan. 

He produced the album we wrote and brought us into a studio where people in Rhymesayers and other notable Twin Cities groups had recorded. We were living in Morris, MN at the time, playing in a small scene, so it really broaden our horizons.

TCM: It seems like there are so many different “scenes” in the twin cities. Where does a group like What Tyrants fit in, and who are some other groups that you dig and play with?

I’m glad you asked that. I think What Tyrants fits both nowhere and everywhere. We describe our sound as a fusion of blues, rock and soul…like Patti Smith, listening to Stevie Wonder, playing with Band of Gypsies. One of our greatest strengths is that nobody sounds like us, so we can play with anybody.

We really enjoy Electric Children, a jazz/hip-hop group, as well as Liftbridge, with their organic take on rock’n’roll. On Wed., March 7th we’re playing at the Triple Rock with a metal band and in April we’re set to play with some synth-pop outfits….so we are all over the place. 

TCM: Where can people get your music? 

WT: All of our music is available for free online. Just visit our Facebook page or will also be previewing some tracks off Kill the Cat in the weeks before we release it. We’re also hoping to get the physical CD in stores like The Electric Fetus, Cheapo, and Treehouse Records. And of course at our shows!


Charting the middle ground between vicious noise and delicate melodies, The Obese create an industrial-punk sound that bridges their song writing and a deep seeded desire to hack, edit and splice anything that creates a waveform. Be it their frantic, unyielding, air-tight delivery or their handcrafted measurements of toxic, mind-altering distortions and tragically contrasted harmonies, they are hitting on something long forgotten for the majority of their listeners.

We got a chance to learn more about OBCT via Geoff Makousky.   

TCM:  OBCT is quite a machine.  For people who don’t know, who and what is OBCT?

OBCT:  OBCT (pronounced Obesity) is the conceptual namesake for our band as well as a commentary on the bloated fast-food consumer culture in which we live and the obesity epidemic that stands poised to destroy us as a people.

We create music for people with a deftly contrasted aesthetic who look deep into song and structure and extract their own moral from the howling shit-storm we offer up.  On stage we’re 5 co-frontmen and a drummer wailing on our instruments until we’re near death.  You have me, myself, I, Geoff: song writer, vocalist, bass player. Booty: lead vocalist, samples/keys/beats. Mikey: Drums. Aeryn: vocals, keyboards. Dave: vocals, guitars. Rev: vocals, horns.


Read More

Welcome to Eden

What happens when 5 amazing musicians come together to one practice space? They create Eden.  So says the tagline on their social media page.  Eden has a sound that aspires to fill airwaves and arenas both.  Featuring piano soundscapes and larger than life vocal melodies, these 5 have their sites set on big things.  Meet Eden.
TCM:  Who/what is Eden?

Eden: To put it simply, Eden is different.  We’re not your average up-and-coming rock group that comes up with four chords and calls it a song.  Since 2009, we have been trying to offer the people of the world rock music like they have never heard it before.

Read More

The 4 on the Floor

They pull no punches. They won’t bore you with trying to explain how multi-genre and indefinable they are. The 4onthefloor play rock music. The 4onthefloor play blues music. And they do it in 4/4 time.

They’ve been stomping around the US and locally quite regularly over the past year.    We had a chance to ask front man Gabe Douglas some insightful questions and got some honest answers.  Enjoy. 

                          The 4onthefloor

TCM:  You guys are currently out touring the midwest.  What have you learned so far about the folks in our corner of the universe and their musical tastes?

4OTF:  We are actually out touring the United States of America! It has been a blast touring from the Pacific Northwest ( where we had sunshine & 60 degree weather ) down to Phoenix ( where it was 49 degrees and RAINING ) and over to New York City where our old bus stalled going into the Holland Tunnel. And down across the Delta of the Mississippi all the way up to Bemidji, in our neck of the woods. Crowds all over the nation are showing up ready to stomp!
It’s been a great time to be making music. It’s been a great time to be alive.

Contrary to popular belief, flannel is still alive in well in all pockets of these United States. And the people in our corner of the world might sing just SLIGHTLY more loudly at our shows, it seems. Keeps BD1 on his toes about his lyrics in the homeland.

TCM:  The last year has been prety busy for 4OTF.  A lot of people would say you had a rather rapid ascension to the spotlight.  How would you respond to that?  

4OTF:  We are honored to play in front of crowds and be able to travel and create music.
The ascension has been rapid and we are ready for even more!
We’ve been a band for awhile now, and we wanted to use the release of our first full length ( “4x4” ) as a catalyst for getting a better presence both regionally & nationally.
We are ready to go forth and continue to reach more audiences.

TCM:  Junkie, off the 4x4 album, has received a lot of local play, with The Current having it in heavy rotation.  Is there a story behind the song?

4OTF:  Every Picture Tells A Story - Rod Stewart, Rod’s third album and my favorite.
Every song can tell a story too.

Junkie is about addiction.
Junkie is about facing addiction.
Addiction in yourself, addiction in others, and holding yourself and others responsible.
There are certain moments where you want to take someone out of their shoes and have them look at where they are at that very instant, whether it be a peak ( where they can only go down ), or at rock bottom.
There are certain moments where all I’ve wanted to do is grab someone by their shoulders and shake some sense into them.
To scream at them at point-blank range.
To make them come clean.
To hug it out of them.

and too be their drug. Whatever it was, you could fill that void.
You would will it to happen.
You would make it so.

And it’s a choice.
And most of the time, it’s not yours.

TCM:  Who are some of your favorite local artists?

4OTF:  Can I tell you how much joy there is in being IN MPLS these days?
So. Much. Joy.

The Evening Rig -
Ashley Gold -
the Farewell Circuit -
Zoo Animal -
Love-Cars -
Caroline Smith & the Goodnight Sleeps
Wishbook -
Savannah Smith -
Seymore Saves the World -
Sleep Study -
Matt Latterell -
Roster McCabe -
Dirty Horse -
Low -
Boys’n’ the Barrels -

So many more!! It is almost impossible for us to stay in our homes anytime we are back in town. Too many great shows to see to NOT go out and be a part of it.

TCM:  Someone who has never seen nor heard 4OTF is coming to a show tonight.  What can they expect?

4OTF:  Intensity. Rawness. Unfiltered release. Requited joy.
They can expect to be able to tell their friends the next day, Rock’n’roll is alive. I am alive.

TCM:  What does the future hold for the band?  What are some things you have in the hopper we may not know about?

4OTF:  We will continue to create & perform music. We’ve got an Eastern jaunt slated for late April / May. We’ll be doing as many festivals as possible this summer across the nation. We’re playing with Buddy Guy & Charlie Parr on March 3rd in Fargo, two musicians we hold so much respect for. We are releasing a 7” at First Avenue on Friday, April 13th.

Things you might not know:
When we aren’t playing in the 4onthefloor, we all still play music. Gabriel Douglas & Chris Holm both do solo shows, while BD1 has an alt-country outfit called Silverback Colony, and BD3 & BD4 have a revivalist blues band called the Fattenin’ Frogs.

TCM:  Lastly, Gabe recently trimmed up the beard.  Why?

4OTF:  Gabriel ( BD1 ) grows beards. And he frees them quite often too.
You probably don’t notice it unless you’re around him day in and day out.
He also runs a site,, that happens every November.
He supports and encourages anybody to grow beard for the 30 days of November. There are theme days and fun to partake in all month.


It’s becoming increasingly difficult in these times to find pop music that comes from within.  Tom Berg isn’t building his songs around the latest pop culture phenomenon.  He’s finding his material from his very own life experiences, as you’ll find out below. 


TCM:  You say each of your songs is written from an experience.  What’s the story behind the  single “Who I’ve Become”

Tom:  The story behind “Who I’ve Become” is, I made a mistake, a big one at that. I hurt someone and it affected me and the people I was around. When the chorus kicks in, the lyrics are “I need sometime on my own, to realize who I’ve become” it’s basically me saying, I needed to stop and figure out what I’ve truly done, and change from that mistake to ensure it doesn’t happen again. The next part of the chorus “and in time I hope you forgive, but never forget who I am.” is me apologizing for turning into a monster and not being true to who I am, and that I hope that this person doesn’t forget who I really was.

TCM:  There’s something in this music that breathes positivity, and companionship.  Is that something you set out to do, or something that just came about in the creative process?

Tom:  That’s kind of a trick question for me, I actually wanted to be in a band that meant something, that had a message in every song, that could show people they aren’t the only ones going through certain situations. Something that would sound different from what you typically hear these days. I grew up listening to Switchfoot, Oasis, Radiohead and many more of that sort. So, the passion was always there, but it wasn’t up until that slip-up that I made, I decided to record “Who I’ve Become” and the pieces sooner or later fell into place. I think you can really hear those influences in my music, as well.

TCM:  Where are some of the places around the Twin Cities we can catch a show of yours?

Tom:  I have been “Hiding under a rock” you could say haha. I’ve been really focusing on writing a new record, I have a few songs that I’m trying really hard not to release, but soon I Am For You will be playing shows. I love Station 4, The Beat, Triple Rock and The Garage, and plan on booking full band shows for this summer at those venues.

TCM:  Who’s responsible for creating the music in I Am For You?

Tom:  Believe it or not, it’s just me. I record a lot with my good friend, Jesse Lynch, he’s in a band known as Alistair Hennessy. He has helped me out so much, and I don’t think that the songs on the “Who I’ve Become EP” would’ve came out the way they did without him. I also was in works with Eric Arjes, from Camera Can’t Lie, on a track that will be on the new record, which was an amazing experience.

TCM:  In a perfect world, where do you see the band 5 years from now?

Tom:  hmm, I’d love to be on headlining tours, have fans that know all the lyrics to my songs and sing them in my face at shows and I’d love to replace Justin Bieber in the spotlight, and marry Miley Cyrus. That’d be a perfect life haha.

Preparing for La Madness

Having left the southern California music scene, Kurt Vatland’s latest project, ‘La Madness’, has arrived in Minneapolis.  They’re ramping up for their debut show Thursday March 29th at Cause in Uptown. 

We had an opportunity to float Kurt, no stranger to the local scene, a few questions. 

We present to you…La Madness.

TCM:  Describe La Madness for us. 

KV:  I’ve coined La Madness as “Indie/Grind/Blues.”  That phrase seems to sum up our sound perfectly. La Madness is a very long awaited project for not only myself, but my fans as well.  Basically, it’s my solo work as a full on “rock outfit.”  I had originally planned on having this band up and running a few years ago, but it took years for me to find the group of guys that fit the vision- and are able to execute it the way it needs to be done.  I’ve got Riggs Kessler on lead guitar, Seth Levine on bass and Aaron Willey on drums.  Altogether, a dynamic group, each one bringing something unique to the table.

Read More


With the first listen of Cathedral off the group Asker’s United EP you wouldn’t guess that this group is comprised of four newly acquainted college students.  The music feels familiar, the vocals seasoned.  It has the catchy hooks and comfort of mainstream pop/rock music you’ll find floating through top 40 radio, the sparse tendrils of an indie band freshly planted. 

We wanted to learn more about Asker, so we asked.  Here’s what they had to say.

TCM:  Who/What is Asker? 

Asker: Asker is an indie-rock band made up of drummer Alex “Sully” Sullivan, guitarist Jack Vondrachek, vocalist/guitarist Alexander Rollins, and bassist Daniel Dosch. We formed in the spring of 2011 after meeting one another at college.

The name Asker just sort of happened. We were playing with some ideas for names and Asker just sort of came out. It has a lot of meanings, but the word Asker just sounds beautiful.

Read More