By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
8. Last year Isa performed in the JD Steele-scored musical Snapshots: Life in the City, at the Great American History Theatre in St. Paul.
9. Isa says the best place to see new local music is down the corner. "You can go down to Station 4 in St. Paul and see students from McNally Smith just meeting each other and getting down," she says. "Or at open mics—the Blue Nile on Tuesdays is where I first saw [rapper Back-Up] Plomo spit a rhyme. Open mics are where everyone gets their first shot."
10. Isa's debut album is due in February on the local label Emetrece Productions.
Call it trivial, but coming up with the perfect name is even more important than, say, choosing the right outfits and styling products. (Just ask Robert Zimmerman.) So when a young, local band decided that their laid-back name didn't live up to their dynamic, contagious melodies, Mike Schwandt and his mates came up with something a little flashier. As of press time, the band was in the process of signing a deal with an undisclosed label, and recording their first full-length at the Pachyderm Studio in Cannon Falls. Look for a national release from the band currently known as White Light Riot in February.
City Pages: When Picked to Click comes out, people always argue that some of the bands aren't technically new. You guys have been White Light Riot for less than a year, but when did you start as the Evening Glow?
Mike Schwandt: We started out a little over two years ago. We didn't play much because we just couldn't get gigs at first. But we played for a solid year and then decided to record. The EP came out last November, and that's when we changed our name.
CP: I heard changing the name was [The Dark Is Light Enough producer] Erik Appelwick's idea.
Schwandt: He just said, "Your music doesn't really sound like the Evening Glow." We agreed immediately because [the original name] just came out of someone's mouth on a night when there may have been alcohol involved. And we didn't realize it was also a women's cosmetics line.
CP: I'm picturing Erik as a cigar-chomping old man, telling the kids how things work in "the biz."
Schwandt: [Laughs] No, he brought it up subtly. He said you might want to change it and after that we all became self-conscious about it.
5. Maria Isa
7. Gay Beast
8. (tie) Awesome Snakes
10. (tie) One for the Team
Schwandt: We wanted to be Thick as Thieves for a while but that was taken by a metal band in California. And then we were going to go with Saints by Stereo. But we didn't want to have a band name with "stereo" in the title; there are just too many of them.
CP: Kind of like "super."
Schwandt: Mm-hmm. And then we came up with White Light Riot and we were thinking of Velvet Underground and the Clash with White Light/White Heat and "White Riot." We're all big fans of both of those bands and we thought it would be a cool tribute. And it kind of describes our music. The white light is the melodies and soaring choruses and the riot is our breakdowns and bridges.
CP: Has your sound changed at all since the switch?
Schwandt: It's progressed a ton. We used to just emulate our heroes. In the Evening Glow, we were very Foo Fighters-esque. We're huge fans of Dave Grohl and everything he's done. And we're into the indie scene like Death Cab, too. So in our early stuff, there was no real sound because everyone was trying to get a certain style that we liked but we never really had our own style. Even the EP is a little bit all over the place. But it helped us figure out what the full-length should sound like.
CP: So you're at Pachyderm right now?
Schwandt: Yeah, and it's going very well. Brent Sigmeth is producing.
CP: How is the recording different from that of the EP?
Schwandt: Appelwick injected his own ideas, which helped us learn about songwriting. So we understood a lot more at the end of that project. This time, Brent is the tone master, but the song creation is up to us. It's still an open, creative environment, but not as much of a helping hand.
CP: What will the new album sound like?
Schwandt: It's going to be quirky pop rock. It's our own brand of quirkiness but with lots of very strong melodies, very accessible. Definitely some fun craziness involved.
Over the course of one year, seven months, two EPs, dozens of live shows, and a recent East Coast tour, Dan Luedtke, Angela Gerend, and Isaac Rotto have established themselves as the nation's—if not the planet's—preeminent progressive post-dance-punk dance band. Granted, they're the first. Still, the trio's talent for marrying tricky time signatures, labyrinthine song structures, and unabashed experimentalism with bold-face infectiousness knows no apparent bounds. Gay Beast twist every trope they touch—just enough.