Solid Gold's fantastic voyage: From Twin Cities band to national treasure

After a whirlwind trip to New York, the successful dream-pop band returns to First Avenue

DESPITE THE PLUMMETING TEMPERATURE AND PERSISTENT DRIZZLE, the bouncer guarding the door of the Brooklyn Bowl in New York isn't budging. There's a line down the block that's been forming for over an hour, and an ornery man with a clipboard is half-heartedly scanning the guest list for names, barely turning to the second page before declaring that each shivering patron isn't on the list. A neon-green logo is cast on the sidewalk with a spotlight, emblazoning the words "Green Label Sound" at the feet of the masses, and inside the club a smattering of the corporate label's hippest up-and-coming musical talent is being courted by industry types and preparing to put on a show.

After several name-drops and a nudge from a label rep, the ambivalent bouncer caves, and I'm in. The Brooklyn Bowl is a sprawling space, a massive warehouse in Williamsburg that's been converted into an interconnected bowling alley, concert venue, restaurant, and bar. In the reception area, the five members of Solid Gold are mingling with a sea of chitchatting musicians, managers, and PR moguls. I spot band members Matt Locher and Adam Hurlburt and pull them aside, and a wave of relief washes over their faces.

"We haven't eaten all day," Hurlburt says. "I'm starving."

Locher nods his head. "We're supposed to be schmoozing."

While in New York for the CMJ marathon, the members of Solid Gold have been keeping a tight schedule—their time is split between conducting press interviews, meeting with label reps for their new partnership with the Mountain Dew-curated Green Label Sound, and playing shows. Tonight's show at the Brooklyn Bowl is by far the largest of the week, and the 600-capacity performance space is already filling up.

When the ordained "meet and greet" period has ended, Solid Gold's manager, a sassy young Brooklyn woman with a no-nonsense attitude, rounds up the boys and brings them backstage to get ready for the show. Unlike their hometown shows in the Twin Cities—which are almost always headlining gigs—Solid Gold are opening tonight's showcase, which also features fellow Green Label Sound artists Chromeo, Amazing Baby, and Theophilus London. And unlike Twin Cities shows, it seems like a good portion of the sold-out audience is here to see the opening band.

As soon as Solid Gold take the stage, a swarm of photographers and videographers take over the front row of the crowd, fixing their lenses on lead singer Zachary Coulter as he starts to sing. His voice falters at first and sounds strained over the punchy synth and guitar parts of "Bible Thumper," but it doesn't take him long to sync up with his own prerecorded harmonies and fall into a groove with the rest of the band. The five members—Coulter alternating between guitar and keys, Locher on synth and bass, Hurlburt on guitar and bass, Shon Troth on slide guitar, and Adam Peterson on drums—are precise in their execution, blending live parts and computerized samples to create a uniform, pulsating pop sound.

If their Brooklyn Bowl set is any indication, Solid Gold have already fostered a devoted set of fans in the Big Apple—a daunting feat for any band, especially one that doesn't regularly conduct full tours of the U.S. and has only recently started creating national blog-fueled buzz. Which isn't to say that Solid Gold's ascent has been a speedy one, since the band has been together in one form or another for eight years. But now, with a music video in rotation on MTVu, a new manager, a push by Green Label Sound, and an increasingly busy schedule of high-profile out-of-town gigs, Solid Gold are adding their name to the roster of local groups who are finding success at a national level.

Their slow and steady climb doesn't seem to surprise any of the members of the group, though. For Solid Gold, this latest leap onto the national radar is just part of their master plan that started at the beginning of the decade by a couple of party boys in Madison, Wisconsin.

  

THE FIRST TIME I MET THE BAND, Zachary Coulter was shirtless in the bar of an upscale French restaurant, wearing a wolf mask and wielding a fireplace poker. Bandmates Adam Hurlburt and Matt Locher—also shirtless—were splayed across overstuffed couches, a bevy of tea-light candles casting a glow on their pale, unsculpted torsos. As a photographer adjusted settings and switched angles, the three of them looked over at me and simultaneously burst into uncontrollable, belly-shaking laughter. Of all the gin joints in all of Minneapolis, I just happened to walk into the one with the popular Minneapolis band derailing their photo shoot with ridiculous antics, and I couldn't imagine a better way to be formally introduced to the three core members of Solid Gold.

The photos from that fateful summer evening—or at least the ones taken when they still had all their clothes on—ended up being used as promotional images for Solid Gold's new partnership with Green Label Sound. From the time those pics were taken until the present day, Solid Gold have traveled to New York and back a few times, including their most recent jaunt to CMJ, and have released a new single, "Matter of Time," on the GLS imprint. Along with another self-released single, "Fat Lip," it's the first new material since their 2008 breakout, Bodies of Water, and both hint at a forward motion for the band. On "Matter of Time," Coulter's voice echoes and loops over itself before fading into what sounds like an electronic musette, and the track is propelled by a steady, jangling dance beat, while "Fat Lip" is a more pared-down style of drum-machine-driven rock 'n' roll, Coulter's throaty wail demanding most of the listener's attention.

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