By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
You might not know the Dynamiters, but you've seen their band members here before. Bassist Dave Gardner and guitarist Brian Shuey placed in 2004's Picked to Click when they were with Die Electric!, and drummer Jeff Severns Guntzel was featured in '98 with Freedom Fighters. Hell, guitarist Nathan Grumdahl won the whole shebang with the Monarques back in 2003. That worked out exceptionally well; the Monarques split shortly after their Picked to Click nod.
These are guys who have been around for a good while and seen a lot of bands, including their own, come and go. This gives them a remarkably laid back attitude towards their own trajectory and success. They have one 7-inch out and have only played a handful of shows, half of them out of town. Already, though, they have opened for a little band called The Hold Steady. Which isn't too surprising; both Grumdahl and Gardner played in bands with current Hold Steady members at various points in their respective careers.
"Honestly, we probably would have stopped by now if we didn't love it so much," Gardner says, stretched out on a couch with his embossed cowboy boots half off, the other band members nodding in assent. "There are times when I'll be playing and I'll just think to myself, 'Damn, I'm glad I'm doing this.'" Bringing their combined histories to the band lends fluidity to their skills, trading off singing, and giving everyone a chance to play. Their practice space is covered in posters of old shows—partially to cover up the disturbing mural of a demon eating out a nun, supposedly painted for a party some 10 years ago that Grumdahl hazily recalls maybe being at.
Everything is light and in good fun, but the Dynamiters are also not without ambition. With Severns Guntzel expecting another child in October (he and Grumdahl are family men—and former writer and photographer, respectively, for City Pages), they plan on recording another 7-inch soon. Regarding the future, Gardner muses, "If we can play 10 shows a year, 4 of those out of town, and release some 7-inches, we'd be happy." The balance of fun and family is apparent in this tight clique, allowing them to define success on their own terms. When Gardner knocks his bass out of tune during rehearsal, Grumdahl jokes that it was "about as well as we play at a show," and Shuey laughs about keeping down the tangential conversations since there's a reporter in the room.
At this particular rehearsal, conversation starts with the news that the Twins had just traded to bring pitcher Eddie Guardado back for some relief support in the pennant race. Between songs, conversation veers from Gulf War collector cards to Tropic Thunder to autism rates among Somali children. At one point, Gardner asks, "You guys wanna go back to some rock 'n' roll?" And they get back to playing. If you want a guy who can close up the game for you, give the ball to Everyday Eddie. If you want your rock 'n' roll straight-up, give it to the guys who have been doing it all along, and still love the game.