SCHOENBURG on Short, But Sweet, and why Paul Simon is "next level sh*t"

"I knew about that band before they were big," is a commonly heard motto among music diehards -- hence you may want to know about SCHOENBURG. The Twin Cities band's new EP Short, But Sweet is filled with glowing new sounds, exciting slight-acknowledgements to old ones, and a sense of feeling that is absent from most fluff pop songs.

The band is set to release their first EP this Friday, and Gimme Noise caught up with Billy Schoenburg before the show at Honey.

Band Members: 

Billy Schoenburg
Dane Hoppe
Graham Wakeman

Gimme Noise: You describe the music as reminiscent of Paul Simon lyrically.  Was this conscious when you were writing?

Billy Schoenburg: Honestly, no. After we started recording some of the tracks, we sat down and listened for "influences." The question you always hear is, "Who does it sound like?" We heard a little Paul Simon. His lyric, form, and melodies are simply sound. Listening to him taught me a lot about songwriting, and I think that shows up every now and then in the songs. I mean, we didn't hop in the studio and say, "Hey, let's write some Paul Simon." I guess when you're working on a craft, the things you love can be heard in that craft. I'm not sure it's something you can avoid or aim for. Plus, I feel really weird comparing myself to Paul Simon. He's some next level shit.

A few of the pieces remind me of Vampire Weekend; are there any artists that you never want to be compared to?  Anyone with whom you would be honored to share a genre? 

When I started writing songs I liked, I kept telling myself that they were "folk" songs, because I was playing an acoustic guitar and singing like a white boy.  I avoided the term "pop" like the plague, because in high school that felt like a dirty word. But pop is awesome, and there is some amazing songwriting in pop -- and people like pop. Anyway, I'd say pop/folk is more accurate to the sound. Most pop artists people have heard of do have redeeming qualities, otherwise they'd be unknown. That's my long-winded way of saying that you can compare us to anyone, and I'll probably just be happy you're talking about us. 

The new album is called Short, But Sweet; does this pertain to both the album and the songs? 

Short, But Sweet is really just a little collection of tunes that I though were well written, cute, and short. You can listen through in twelve minutes. It's refreshing. I like that. We're actually finishing up a full-length in the next couple of months called Hydrophobia & Identity Insecurities, due out on July 4. We seriously can't wait for you to hear it, both in terms of songwriting and production. Expect the single in a month or so.

What was the story that you wanted to tell with Short, But Sweet? 

The goal is to release a set of songs that are well crafted, short, and sweet. There is a tone of innocence throughout the EP. I mean, there's a love song that revolves around the exchange of Chapstick. I think the main theme is innocent love, and how exciting those first exchanges in young romance can be, even if those exchanges are as trivial as swapping ChapStick or your first sleepover.

What is the band's background in musical tastes and aesthetics? 

Graham and Dane were actually in a technical band together during their high school days in Michigan, which I always think is badass. They are really well-versed musicians with Graham being a guitarist and Dane being a drummer. Both can play anything you want from metal to jazz to pop to rock to folk. They just have good ears. I learn things every day from having them around.

I was classically trained in violin, viola, and flute from a really young age. I also taught myself guitar when I was seventeen, so I could start writing songs. 

Did you all meet at McNally?  What did you study that drew you to each other to start creating music?

I met Graham freshman year at McNally because we lived on the same floor of our apartment complex.  When Dane came to town, he and I just clicked; with Dane that's pretty easy to do.  He's probably the most amicable person I know.  Graham and Dane are finishing up their Bachelor's in Music Production, and I'm getting a Bachelor's in Music Business.

Graham and I wrote together a little during our freshman year, but the three of us are best friends above anything else.  This last fall, we started producing music together because it was the next logical step.

What is OuiOui Music Group and how did that form?

OuiOui Artist Group is something that I think we planned, but ultimately fell together over the past few months. Right now OuiOui consists of SCHOENBURG, Kara Laudon, SuperChris (Chris Cote), and Auspice Residens (Graham Wakeman).

We are really just a group of friends who are producing and playing music together that we all like. We also like the idea of projects -- qlbums, EPs, singles, what have you. We just want to produce, and it's easier for us if we can rely on each other. 

What can we expect at the show at Honey on Friday night?

The line up is Kara Laudon, SuperChris, and SCHOENBURG, and we will all be playing on each other's sets. You could come in at any point in the night and chances are we'll all be hopping on and off the stage regardless of whose set it is. It's a OuiOui Artist Group showcase, as well as a SCHOENBURG EP release, and I think if you come you'll get an idea of what OuiOui is all about just by seeing the group working together.

The vibe will be generally laid back -- a nice start to your Friday evening. Also, SuperChris might wear a cape, so there's that. 

SCHOENBURG will release Short, But Sweet at Honey on Friday, March 2, 2012 with Kara Louden and SuperChris.  AA, $2, 7 pm

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