By Reed Fischer
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"I don't assume that people are going to like us right off the bat," says Animal Lover frontman Addison Shark. He's correct. His band provokes strong reactions — even from live sound engineers. Seated near the back of the Kitty Cat Klub, Shark recalls a show last year where he claims an annoyed engineer asked the noise-rock band to turn the monitors down. When they refused, the engineer retaliated by "killing all our sound except the vocals. Then [the venue] turned out the lights."
Animal Lover play a record-release show with Miami Dolphins and Les Deux Magots on Thursday, January 31, at Hexagon Bar; 612.722.3454
It's hard to imagine that the young man in a loose-fitting T-shirt and acid-washed jeans calmly seated here could provoke so much ire from anyone. Though he is a self-conscious interviewee, apologizing several times for vague answers, he is far from abrupt or defensive. His generally agreeable nature stands in stark contrast to the music Shark creates as Animal Lover — a feral, melody-shunning din.
Onstage, bassist Evan Bullinger and drummer Nathan Fisher provide the lockstep groove for Shark's hellion howls and caterwauling feedback. In a city renowned for superficial niceties, the unforgiving harshness of their approach is a rare, wondrous thing to behold.
"Our music comes from frustration and anger, a lot of negative emotions," explains Shark. "It's a release."
Animal Lover have played live around the Twin Cities for a little over a year, earning a small yet devoted following for their brutal assault since relocating from Fargo, North Dakota. Shark is the first to admit that their gut-wrenching sets aren't exactly the model of consistency, noting "probably about half the time we hit the mark." But it's a batting average Shark is willing to live with so long as the band is still able to have those nights when "I get offstage and feel like I've exorcized something."
Until now, Animal Lover's only record was a single 7-inch. Shark had hoped to have the Fundango EP out much sooner than this week, but as is so often the case, a process that began in October 2011 was dragged out by a stressful number of recording setbacks. According to Shark, the band struggled mightily to capture their live ferocity on tape. Though Animal Lover did the basic tracking in Milwaukee, spending hours just to get the right drum sound, the vocals never came out right and the band ran out of time. Ultimately, the band decided to re-record all of the vocals back in Minneapolis.
Despite its piecemeal creation, Fundango in final form is a remarkably cohesive-sounding work, and nails their live aesthetic. Jesus Lizard comparisons are accurate, but listen closer for the metallic post-grunge of Helmet and early Dinosaur Jr.'s hardcore leanings.
These reference points finally bring out some irritation in Shark. "Look, I know how we sound, and the fact is we like a bunch of different stuff. The Jesus Lizard and Dinosaur Jr. were really important for us starting out and [they were bands that] bonded us, but the goal has always been to grow and become ourselves."
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