It’s no secret: The Twin Cities has a knack for producing world-class punk rock.
From revered elder statesmen like the Replacements and Hüsker Dü right on through current faves like Teenage Moods and Kitten Forever, the area’s punk tradition is storied and well-chronicled.
Color TV could help write the next chapter.
“We all come from sub-scenes within punk,” says guitarist Phil Schwarz. “When we first got together, we all vibed off of classic Ramones and the Buzzcocks. It felt real natural — play to play, more or less.”
Color TV’s self-titled debut is a blistering exercise in dumb fun, brimming with enough bombast and DIY swagger to liven the dingiest of Minneapolis basements. Released in September, the four-track EP is anchored by sharp songwriting that’s utterly devoid of ego or artifice.
Written by bassist/vocalist Devin Jorgenson, the lyrics are steeped in varying degrees of existential and psychological dread. On the cryptic “To Death,” Jorgenson cries, “Visible scratches, glued to my mattress and it bleeds me dry / But if I stop acting like it’s not a problem, would you still come by?” It’s cerebral rock ’n’ roll songwriting, never veering too snotty or routine.
Schwarz, who helps run independent punk co-op Extreme Noise, was introduced to Jorgenson during a show at the 7th St. Entry. Schwarz was already a fan of Welcome Home Walker, Jorgenson’s now-defunct band from Portland, Oregon. They immediately clicked.
After enlisting drummer AJ Olmscheid and guitarist Matt Allen, Color TV began rehearsing regularly and performed their first show at the Hexagon Bar a little more than a year ago.
Each member has played in a dozen or so bands, but the still-nascent Color TV banner is already paying the most dividends. In September alone, the group scored national exposure with a profile courtesy of BandCamp, and they opened for pop-punk legends the Descendents at First Avenue.
Jorgenson moved back to Portland in May, but Color TV plans to stick together.
“We are more of a basement-scene band; we are a little more comfortable in the DIY setting,” Schwarz says, rattling off dozens of bands and demonstrating his profound affinity for the scene and genre. “There’s more of a community there — the music doesn’t take a backseat to everything else.”
Olmscheid adds, “It also helps to be that much closer to the crowd. It’s more interactive.”
While Color TV are firmly rooted in stylistic tradition, they sure sound close to perfecting it. And, in keeping with our state’s history of pretense-free punk rock, they’re a reminder that you don’t have to sound so serious while taking music seriously.