Younger Than Yesterday

Workaholic college kids make prog rock for clean-cut punks

Aneuretical still aren't sick of the "teen band" tag. "I don't think it's that bad, actually," says founder and guitarist Ian Anderson at a sidewalk table in front of the Hennepin Avenue Espresso Royale. Anderson's black-rimmed glasses add an extra layer of gravity to his already serious demeanor. At 20, he's got a year on both of his bandmates.

"It's kind of a foot in the door," offers Matthew Sandstedt. Wearing a three-piece suit, complete with bow tie, on a hot Sunday afternoon, the bassist and vocalist is already a seasoned dandy, to the extent that he's not even breaking a sweat. Drummer Noah Paster, clad in a blue T-shirt and baby beard, adds, "If we had started this band when we were in our mid-20s, we'd just be another Minneapolis indie-rock band. It's nice to have all these people saying, 'Oh, listen to them, they're so young.'"

Yes, one of them is named Ian Anderson, but they don't play "Locomotive Breath": Underage rockers Aneuretical consider the legal ramifications of drinking that bottle of wine
Courtesy of Afternoon Records
Yes, one of them is named Ian Anderson, but they don't play "Locomotive Breath": Underage rockers Aneuretical consider the legal ramifications of drinking that bottle of wine

Especially since they don't sound like it. Apart from Sandstedt's decidedly youthful vocals, their second album, When You Were a Kid, could be the work of 30-year-olds, were it not so frisky. Much of the disc is devoted to lamenting youth already lost. "Hampers Are Hideouts" finds the singer recalling shifting playtime parameters, yelping, "We're older than we notice" on a chorus heralding a bit of the sophisticated instrumental interplay that's one of the trio's trademarks.

Not that there's anything wanky about the song or the band--Aneuretical simply choose to infuse the breakdown-and-tempo-change-intensive agenda that characterizes current dance-floor-friendly rock with an abundance of richly morphing chords. As Anderson and principal songwriter Sandstedt note, their penchant for novel harmonic relationships springs from no single source. The latter, originally a violinist, is trained in the Suzuki method, an approach to instrumental ear-training that enables students to pick up unfamiliar styles quickly and thoroughly. Like multi-instrumentalist wunderkind Andrew Bird, he provides a prime example of the method's two-way effect.

"When I'm writing," he says, "I hear what I want things to sound like. Plus, I've only been playing guitar for a few years, so my knowledge of the instrument is limited, which probably pushes me more toward unusual chords."

Anderson is from a slightly different school: "A lot of what I do came from the Replacements," he says. "I admire Paul Westerberg greatly and it seemed like he was always using unusual positions and fingerings in the band. Plus, I started playing cello a few years ago, which has really affected the way I play guitar. Everything is way more a matter of motion to me now."

"Instead of just having a chord and a bass note, we try to create a lot of different melodic lines," Sandstedt adds. His statement rings most true on "CO." The eight-minute adolescent-mishap mini-epic opens as frantic mosh fodder, accelerates even more, then breaks down to an eerie waltz, guitarist and bassist slowly building, dropping, and building again and again. Paster drives them with jazzily elliptical stutters, before a majestic home stretch that finds the band waxing downright panoramic.

"A lot of people do say we sound like prog rock," Sandstedt says. "They compare us to Yes," adds Anderson. "Yes and Rush," Paster concurs. "Family members do, anyway." Clearly he's referring to elders. After all, Anderson, as his name indicates, is the son of a Jethro Tull fan.

He's also damn busy, splitting non-band time among responsibilities at St. Olaf College (where he majors in English and is editor-in-chief of school newspaper the Manitou Messenger), a Minneapolis nightclub where he soda-tends at all-ages shows, and Afternoon Records, the label he started three years ago with Sandstedt's older brother, Michael.

Nor are his bandmates exactly playing Huck Finn for the summer, even though all just wrapped a monthlong tour. Paster, a psychology major at MCTC, also works at a St. Paul radio station. Only Normandale Community College music major Sandstedt is currently unemployed--and he's looking. "We're hoping he gets a job at Fantasy Gifts," Anderson ventures, suggesting that even the most industrious kids need an outlet.

 
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