We Built This City on Rock and Roll

...and other equally valuable varieties of popular music

Brian: I don't think that there's much evaluation at all. You pick up a paper and you read a review of a record, and it doesn't say shit about the music on the record. It's ridiculous. I'm like, what does this sound like? They'll talk about anything but the music on the record. I don't know if it's just people that don't know a great deal about music that are writing music reviews, but they'll get eight paragraphs in before they talk about the record, and they're talking about "Kierkegaard once said...."

Dylan: And do you perceive the double standard I'm describing?

Brian: Yeah, I think that's just local boosterism and it happens in a lot of cities.

Nick: If you're going to get an interview, you know you're going to get a good review. We did get a fair review once. It was a website, and I was glad to read it because the guy was fair about stuff we needed to work on. Like any new band, there are certain things that you don't necessarily know that you need to work on 'cause your friends will tell you, "Oh, that's great, man." But he did call us "punk-ska," which is about as far from the truth as you can get.

Ian: Does toothless press kind of lead to everybody getting along too well? Should there be more dicks involved, more active agitators? If there's no active critique, does that hold everybody back?

Brian: I think there's probably a lot of bands running around this town who don't realize that they're not that fucking awesome. 'Cause they haven't gone anywhere. When we went out with Hot Snakes...I'll be honest with you, we're not in their league. Those guys are insane ass-kickers. And, you know, we're not bad. But that shit pushes you. When you swim in this pond all the time, you don't really get it.

Wes: I think the Minneapolis music scene is really incestuous.

Ian: And no one wants to piss anybody off.

Wes: Exactly, because you see everyone every night when you go out to a show. We've always had a rule that we will never say anything bad about another band in town.

P.O.S.: I have found that there are so many bad bands in the city, but there's also a lot of really good music in this city, and since we only have, I don't know, four legitimate papers that actually do anything, nobody's gonna want to review the records that everybody knows suck. If you get written about, it's because someone likes you.

Ian: There's also this glass ceiling. There's a million bands going on right now, but since the Short Fuses don't live here right now, I'll take them: They got that 200 people and that was all they had, for five years, and they kept playing the Entry on a Friday or Saturday, and that was pretty much their job.

Wes: Well, that's how I feel about going to college. If in June we're still playing for the same size crowd at the same venue and getting the same kind of responses, it's like, how much longer can I do that?

P.O.S.: But man, that's June. That's under a year. The glass ceiling, I don't think that's true. If you're expanding what you're trying to do, whether you're trying to play out of state, if you're taking shows where you don't know if you're going to like the bands you'll be playing with, just mixing it up, you're going to find more than just the same 200 people.

 

CHANGING LIVES, ONE SOUND
ENGINEER AT A TIME

 

Ian: So Stef, how's this record deal [with Rhymesayers] going to change you? When you're doing your next album, you know damn well it's gonna reach a national audience. How does that change you as a writer?

P.O.S.: I guess before this happened, all the stuff I was writing was kind of shying away from the aggressive stuff, just because I did so much of that on my last record. And then I got this [deal], and now there's bigger options on the table and I know it's gonna reach more people, so the writing's getting more and more aggressive and it's getting louder. There's lots of screaming. So it will definitely be another hip-hop record, but I'm going to push it further and make sure I can figure out who really likes it.

Ian: Yeah, right now you don't have to worry about alienating that many people, so you might as well...

P.O.S.: ...just get rid of 'em before I get 'em.

Ian: So what's success? If you walked away from this in three, five, ten years, what would you be happy with?

Brian: People just still listening to us. I figured out a long time ago that I'm not gonna make money doing this--I mean, no fucking way. I'm not delusional. The only thing I'd like to have happen is for records that I make to maybe someday have some kind of effect on people the way records had on me, and that's it.

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