By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
By Zach McCormick
By Jeff Gage
By Reed Fischer
Over the summer, a fan of Minneapolis smoothed-out punks Frozen Teens left the comment "RIP great band total bummer that they're done," beneath a stream of the band's 2012 debut. Contrary to what the internet says, though, they're most definitely not broken up anymore — at least, as of a few weeks ago.
Why have these relative unknowns reformed? All eyes turn to the band's youngest member, 25-year-old Olsen, who is presently slouched in a chair. After three years of sporadic DIY gigs with the Frozen Teens, Olsen took off on a bike tour bound for Kansas City this past summer, leaving his band in the lurch.
Frozen Teens play with Treasure Fleet, Big Eyes, Audacity, and Real Numbers on Saturday, December 1, at Hexagon Bar; 612.722.3454
Unsurprisingly, his lyrics on the group's self-titled album, issued earlier this year, are dotted with local claustrophobia. On "Hopeless City," Olsen sneers, "We're trapped in this hopeless city/Back in this hopeless city/Minneapolis would you miss me if I could leave?"
Simon and Ski did miss him anyhow, and Olsen admits, "It was just dumb not to be in this band for five months."
The basic tracks for the album were created in two days in early 2011 in the St. Paul basement studio run by Matt Castore of area heavy-punk purveyors Condominium. "We loved the sound of the sonics there," says Ski. "[It was] dirty but real big. We did the basic tracks in two days and [Castore] left a lot of the mistakes in, like there's one song where you can hear me hit my sticks in mid-air but it would've sounded weirder to edit it out."
"There are mistakes all over my favorite records," Simon adds. "[Music] just doesn't sound as good when it's made under a microscope."
The album then sat on the shelf for over a year due to an assortment of miscommunications with their label. "We had some problems with the cover art," says Ski, rolling his eyes. The brisk 31-minute LP, which has a dollop of influence from Texan pop-punkers the Marked Men, could've been held up a decade and still not sounded dated. Each melody has a distinctly classic tone. Aptly, the songs ruminate on human fallibility and the constant struggles of striving to meet one's own lofty expectations and perpetually falling short.
"Bury Me Alive" best captures the Frozen Teens' grit and perseverance. Backed by Ski's steady punch, Olsen details daily life as a litany of grievances, from innocuous small talk about the weather to the soul-sucking grind of shitty, dead-end day jobs. By the time the chorus kicks in, Olsen's disappointment has turned to fiery self-loathing: "Bury me alive under the weight of another compromise/Can't look myself in the eye." In these moments on the record, the band tap into deeply relatable truths, connecting far beyond the underground punk community.
Now the focus is on getting the album into stores. Unfortunately, the most recent shipment of records arrived looking like it had been placed in a trash compactor. ("Have you seen the opening scene to Ace Ventura?" cracks Simon.) They're keeping their fingers crossed that a new batch of vinyl arrives for their headlining show Saturday at the Hexagon. With material this solid, the Frozen Teens just need to hold themselves together long enough for the rest of the world to warm up to them.