Local garage-rockers Some Pulp's self-titled debut is a nine-song bullet train hurtling through genre, style, and perspective. Spanning doo-wop, pop-punk, soul, and more, the album finds Michigan transplants and longtime pals Dane Hoppe and Graham Barton ready to make a top-volume statement, but some details are still hazy.
"We've had a hard time figuring out who this music is really for," Hoppe says. He and Barton are speaking with City Pages at the Sample Room in northeast Minneapolis. "Everyone always says, 'We write the music for ourselves.' Obviously that's true, but you have to keep your audience in mind, and that's what we have learned from live music here in Minneapolis."
"Yeah, the themes in our music don't really relate to adults, maybe nostalgically, but we're only so old," Barton adds. "I don't think young people could even really listen to it and think, 'This music explains me.' We're in this weird limbo."
In a sense they are right. After all, where lies the innate value of twentysomethings lamenting high school heartbreak? Turns out, the trappings of adolescence mix well with nostalgia, regret, wisdom, and lots of guitars. People can enjoy their music because it's fundamentally catchy, raucous, and fun. When it come to good music, those qualities know no bounds.
Barton and Hoppe shouldn't be viewed as overthinkers. Rather, the McNally Smith College of Music graduates hold a genuine investment in the music they create and approach both the business and creative ends of Some Pulp with drive and intelligence. Otherwise, they'd still be plateaued in small-town Michigan.
"There's nothing really in Michigan. Not to make it sound like a terrible, desolate place but there's just more opportunity elsewhere," Barton says. "We came here to make music. We saw an opportunity and jumped at it, and it was definitely a good choice."
Back in Michigan, Barton and Hoppe played together in a highly different capacity: a metal band. After they moved to Minneapolis for school and experimented with a variety of different projects, Barton introduced a song to Hoppe that became the framework for Some Pulp. Hoppe was keen on the direction and the two dove in headfirst, completing a considerable amount of songs before sending out a demo tape to labels. They eventually secured a spot on locally based Forged Artifacts, now part of New York-based Frenchkiss Label Group.
"We have this weird way of working where we finish everything musically first and then figure the rest of it out," Barton says. "We've played these songs everywhere in Minneapolis for the last year. We just didn't say no to anything. We were a duo then so it was easy and it definitely helped to get on people's good sides."
"It's forced us to really, thoroughly learn our own material," Hoppe says. "Which is good especially now that we've added to our live setup."
"It's been a huge experience burrito, all of these things wrapped in one," Barton adds.
Eventually, in a tale of modern cyber-romance, the band simply tweeted at Forged Artifacts founder Matt Linden, "Release our tape." He coolly responded, "Get at me, homie." After receiving a personalized package from the band containing demos, a handwritten note, and a patch, among other things, Linden began to realize Some Pulp had definite Forged Artifacts compatibility.
"They immediately got my attention," Linden says. "I had already heard their music, and they were on my radar, but that's what really sealed the deal. You can definitely tell they cared about the overall vibe, presentation, and aesthetic of their band — even aside from their music — which is pretty cool and refreshing. Plus, the music kicks ass."
Now good friends with the band, Linden has coached them through the formalities of label life, and the duo has expanded to four with Elliott Snyder (Shakin' Babies, Crimes) on bass and Colin Sheffield adding more guitar support. And though they are anticipating their album release, the highest priority is to continue to build on the foundation of their identity, which leaves room for more than a few orange-juice puns.
"We see so many bands who are like, 'Oh music is this and Scooby Doo and Shaggy too,' and it's just like, why are you so serious?" says Barton. "It just doesn't make sense. We'd rather just have a good time with it."