Picked to Click 2009: Red Pens voted Twin Cities' best new band

Celebrating the 10 winners of this year's best-new-bands poll

CP: Can I add anything on the end?

Biasi: You can put "esquires" at the end if you want.

CP: Why did you start the Double Bird, esquires?

2009 Winner, Red Pens
Nick Vlcek
2009 Winner, Red Pens

Ben Ivascu: Because we were already in a band together. We were in a band called Signal to Trust, and one of the members moved away to go to school. And we still wanted to play in a band together.

Storberg: We had kind of talked about it. We were actually here [at the Hexagon]. Total Fucking Blood was playing and it was February or March of '08. Pete was like, "Let's practice tomorrow."

CP: With your schedules, why did you decide to make time for this?

Biasi: I really like these guys as buddies. It gives us a reason to hang out.

CP: What is it about your personalities that makes you get along so well?

Biasi: We find the same kinds of things funny. We could drive by the same pro-life billboard and look at it and go, "Haaaa. Look at that shit." Or say, "Wouldn't it be funny if that baby had a Hitler moustache?"

Storberg: When we were in Signal, we wanted to keep that brotherhood going. It's an awesome coincidence that aside from these guys being my closest friends, Pete and Ben are the best at what they do in this city without a doubt.

CP: Are you working toward an album?

Storberg: At first, probably more something like a single.

Biasi: You can put this in the article: If anyone wants to pay for us to put a record out, we will make one. I'll lower the cost. If a label could give us $600 for a weekend, we could go in and make an awesome record.

CP: Let's see if that helps. To wrap up, what are your favorite new local bands?

Biasi: Red Pens. Raw Space.

Ivascu: Slapping Purses

Biasi: Mother of Fire.

Storberg: Skipper.

Biasi: Blackcloud Stallionheart. They're out of control.

Ivascu: Blackcloud Stallionheart—that's easily my favorite thing I have heard out of this town. He's going to happen. He's going to blow up in a big way.

Erin Roof is a freelance writer.

10. Teenage Moods

photo: Nick Vlcek

How Teenage Moods went from BFFs to bandmates

by David Hansen

Teenage Moods are friends. No, really. BFF material. Womb to tomb, cradle to crypt. They've worked the same crap jobs together. They've bounced from house to house as roommates together. They've spent their prime years poring over one another's zines, buying up each other's hand-stamped cassettes.

But it took them until 2008 to head to a soundproofed basement and become a band.

"We all respect each other's art," says guitarist Gordon Byrd. "We respect each other's music. We all have fun coming up with dumb ideas. The only thing missing was just picking up instruments."

Sitting on the porch of their three-story house in south Minneapolis—which is also home to members of Kitten Forever—Gordon Byrd, Taylor Motari, and Gillian Schroeder are as quietly convivial as adopted siblings, closely familiar with each other's tics and tropes. It's an intimacy so deep, they even inhabit one another's dreams. When drummer Motari calls Teenage Moods a dream band, he's not just being figurative.

"It is," he says. "I had a dream of being in a band with Gordon and Gillian." Schroeder, bassist, nods in assent. She and Byrd had the very same dream, she says, and starting Teenage Moods, which they did in 2008, felt preordained.

Their music is an example of pop rock's most sound, trusty craftsmanship. Their songs are expertly arranged affairs of four chords, elevated by lyrics that exhibit a shared sense of the truly endearing. Songs like "The Sugar Band" and "Flower Hunting" seem to drip clover honey over every beat; they are miniature odes to man's most cherished sentiments. The band's versatility is audible—with or without electricity, on the Big V's stage or in the basement of the Pocketknife, Teenage Moods find a way. Their music seems to stagger, drunk on its own good will, executed so expertly you might never guess that Schroeder, the Moods' bassist, had never played a note of music before joining the band.

It's the grand expression of their camaraderie, the living, audible proof of their faith in one another. It's their greatest risk, and it's paying huge dividends. After an active year, which has seen them release a handcrafted full-length CD and top numerous bills, Schroeder has become a scholar of her instrument. Motari, who once played bass in local mainstay Baby Guts, laughs sardonically.

"Now," he says, "she's writing our most difficult rock songs."

Schroeder is perched on a ratty recliner, her chin on her knees. Behind a long shroud of hair, she can almost hide completely. "I've always secretly wanted to get in on it," she says with a grin. "It's been intimidating. But it's also easier than I thought it would be. Gordon told me that, if I could learn two chords, I could write a song. You don't have to be the best right off the bat."

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