Stereo Confession: We know the rules, but wish they didn't apply to us
Photo by Don Trueman
Make way for the youth of tomorrow. The three members of Minneapolis band Stereo Confession formed two years ago when they were merely 14, and while they may seem young, they are growing and quickly learning the ins and outs of what it takes to make it in the industry. Their newest album, First Communion, has heart and rough edges but a lustre that comes from these very same guitar noises and scrabbly sounds.
Before their album release on Saturday at the Entry, the trio spoke with Gimme Noise on their experiences with people basing their music on their age and their time working with Ed Ackerson.
Band Members: Max Timander, Jordan Blevins, and Corey Hagen
Max Timander: The name Stereo Confession came to me one day when I saw a picture from my early childhood where I was holding a record up in front of my face. I came up with this vision of a normal man in a confession booth praying to a stereo within. The odd thing with this vision was that the man had a record in place of his head. I thought it was this really weird idea but then I came up with our band name. I just put the stereo and confession together, and we really needed a name for our first show so we used it, and then we stuck with it. We thought about changing it at one point but we don't want to confuse anyone so now it's for sure our title.
GN: The band formed at the pretty young age of 14. What do you feel is the biggest lesson you have learned in the two years as a band?
MT: Over the two years as a band, the biggest lesson I've learned is that you need to be as persistent as possible -- well, not that persistent. But when I try and book at certain venues, some won't book us on the first try, so I'll email them again if there's a new band that we really want to open for.
That's how we started getting booked at the 7th Street Entry in the first place. I emailed the incredibly nice guys from the Men, and they gave us our first show there last June! Probably one of my favorite moments of my life so far.
Corey Hagen: I've learned that things don't just happen by themselves. You have to really work for what you want.
Jordan Blevins: Practice makes perfect. That line has become so true over the past two years. We have played under practiced shows and over practiced shows. We always get a better response at the shows for which we practice constantly. It's definitely some advice that any band should listen to -- young or old.
GN: Do you feel any discrimination in the music scene because of your age?
MT: I completely feel discrimination in the music scene because of our age, but the thing is, I also completely understand the rules -- I just really wish that these rules didn't apply to us. We want a chance like every other band in the world, yet we don't get one because we are 16 years old.
People always say that if you get bigger in the scene and make enough fans, you'll get to play those bars and such. The thing is, you can't get bigger without playing those places. For now, I guess we're stuck with what we have. It just makes us want to be 18 even more.
JB: Specifically in the punk scene, there is little to no discrimination. Bands are always happy to have kids playing along side and house shows are always all ages. However, I feel that in the indie scene, since it's more venue based; there are a lot of restrictions on kids being able to play.
GN: I hear some Weezer and even a little Replacements in the music. Where do you draw influence from when writing?
MT: We draw influence from all over in our music. I listened to Green Day a lot when I was little so its all just kind of stuck with me. I'm not a fan nowadays, but what I learned back then is what I reflect a lot.
Our biggest influence is the White Stripes -- whether it shows in our music or not. Meg and Jack White are the reasons that we started our band. They're both such inspirational figures -- even if Meg's drumming is boring.
I would say after listening to The Replacements' Stink, my jaw dropped. It really showed me punk from a Minneapolis point of view, so I could say that we do learn from our older local bands.
Lastly, I'd say another local really inspires me. Jeremy Messersmith is an iconic local figure to me. When I was 12, Jeremy told me a quote that I'd never forget. "You can't step twice into the same river." From then on, I've always tried experimenting with different styles of music. That is why I believe our debut EP is so diverse. We took from punk, indie, pop, and rockabilly to form this end result of the past two years as a band.
GN: How did you meet Ed Ackerson, and how did you decide to work with him on this album?
MT: Our first real connection with Ed was between my dad and him back in the late '80s/early '90s when my dad ran a fanzine in the cities called The DJ Wrap Sheet. Because they were both in the scene, they must have crossed paths sometimes. When I contacted Ed, he had knowledge of who my father was, so he had an idea that we were legit. I really wanted to work with him because I knew of his prominence in our local scene. Polara and BNLX are two great bands that he has been in and when I found out that he had his own studio, I knew we had to work with him, so I sent him some crappy YouTube videos of us playing and he said he dug it. Next thing you know, we were in a recording studio.
GN: Did Ed help shape the songs, or did you go into the studio with the album written?
MT: We entered the studio with each of our songs completely written and rehearsed. Ed did however add a lot to what we already had. For the two days that we worked with him on this album, he really was like a mentor to us. He gave us ideas of what would sound cool, he showed us what wasn't working and overall we just all got along really well.
GN: What does the name First Communion mean?
MT: We wanted to be teenagers and be a little edgy, so we chose a name that was maybe a little more sacrilegious. Our goal was not to offend anyone, the name just sounded cool so we chose it. Nothing on our album deals with anything religious at all; it just fit with what we wanted.
GN: Any favorite songs off the new album?
JB: I love the bonus track titled, "3x3," because it's fun to play. It's such a fast song and it really gets me energetic.
CH: "Got Me Going," because we've played it at every show of ours. I just love it.
MT: The second song on the EP, "Forest in the Trees" is my personal favorite just because it's a catchy song. Even if I wrote it, I just love singing along to it. The other thing is, I'm a huge perfectionist. This song is the one song on the EP that doesn't bother me in anyway. It's not like I think my other songs are bad, it just irks me when I hear my own voice recorded so clearly.
GN: What can we expect to see at the album release show?
CH: You can expect to see a new start to our band. We have been growing over the past year, and we are ready to just let it all out. We have a new sound that we'll be debuting at this show. As a band, we've been listening to a lot of the band Wavves lately and it kind of just adds a little more of a summer vibe to our songs. About 3-4 new songs have been written for the show, so we're pretty excited.
JB: Definitely expect an energetic show and also some cool new local artists that will be joining us on stage. We're actually going to be doing a live band version of a song with a local hip-hop duo that will be releasing their CD in July. We're super excited to be sharing the stage with these guys because we've known them since elementary school. MT: $5 worth of incredible bands, and I'm not talking about us. We opened for the Word Party in January, and they put on the most incredible show. I never dance when I go to see bands, and they had me moving throughout their whole set. So you'll catch me looking stupid during their set for sure on the 29th. I'm also extremely excited to have Alpha Consumer close out the night just because they mean so much to me. Guitarist and lead vocalist, Jeremy Ylvisaker is a genius guitar player. He actually was my guitar teacher for awhile. When I saw them open for Tapes N' Tapes and Oberhofer a couple years ago, I fell in love with them. Jeremy, Mike and, JT are all just incredible musicians. They all come from a collective of awesome bands too so I'm very excited to have them. You can catch me drooling over them during their set. The last thing that we're excited about is that we're going to have a full merch table: screen print posters, t-shirts, CD's, stickers. It'll all be really exciting. You'll have to come to the show to see everything take place!
Stereo Confession will release First Communion at the 7th Street Entry on Saturday, June 29, 2013 with Alpha Consumer and the Word Party.
AA, $5, 4 pm
Purchase tickets here.
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