Symbol & Surface: We're brothers, so we're real good at arguing
Photo by Dan Bennett
Familial bickering is difficult enough, but to be in a band with a sibling brings it to another level. Such is the fate of two founding members of Minneapolis band Symbol & Surface, David and Brian Bauernfeind. Their second album, We Are the Same, drips with simple, delicious folk rock.
Before the band's album release at the 7th Street Entry, Gimme Noise sat down with singer David Bauerfeind to talk about the band's progression since their last album and what it's like to be in a band with his brother.
Band Members: Brian Bauernfeind (Keys, Guitar), David Bauernfeind (Vocals, Guitar, Banjo), Stefan Kuhl (Bass), Matt Decker (Drums), John Nielsen (Guitar, Vocals)
Gimme Noise: Is the band from the Twin Cities originally?
David Bauernfeind: The band was formed in and continues to be based out of Northeast Minneapolis. Stefan and Matt were born and raised in the Twin Cities, while John, Brian, and I are originally from the Milwaukee area.
Gimme Noise: When did you first work together with your brother musically?
David Bauernfeind: We have always been a part of each other's songwriting. We first recorded together in the summer of 2008 while staying at our grandparent's farm house. (It was a real humble EP.) From that point on, we would write together when we had the chance, but weren't able to really chase after making music until I joined Brian in the Twin Cities in 2010. The foundation we laid then has slowly evolved into what is now Symbol & Surface.
Gimme Noise: How did you meet the rest of the band, and what did they bring to band's sound?
David Bauernfeind: Brian met Stefan when they were randomly paired as college roommates, and we were all introduced to Matt and John by mutual friends. Their addition to Symbol & Surface allowed us to transition from our acoustic folk roots to a more indie rock sound. Even when it was just us two brothers, we were always reaching for a more full sound -- stomping on kick drums and tambourines (a la the Avett Brothers). With the full band we feel like we can create the sound we've always wanted, and it's way more fun to make music with more friends in the mix.
Gimme Noise: Is it difficult to be in a band with a sibling?
David Bauernfeind: We're brothers, so we're real good at arguing. We get into it a lot surrounding our music, because we care about it so much. However, we're also best friends and roommates, so we have plenty of practice being direct with one another. Plus, if you have to hear you suck at something, it's best to hear it from your brother.
Gimme Noise: How do you feel We Are The Same has progressed since Brothers?
David Bauernfeind: We Are The Same is a reflection of the way we've grown as a band. Brothers is a collection of songs written by Brian and me, with bass and drum parts that were largely written in the studio. In contrast, we set out to write We Are The Same more collaboratively as a full band. Most of the songs still started with me and my acoustic guitar, but they truly took shape and became something we were excited about when everyone else contributed.
Gimme Noise: Does the title of the new album play into the title Brothers?
David Bauernfeind: Brothers is about a special bond that occurs between family and We Are The Same extends that to a broader level. It is about the universality of humanity, and seeking an awareness of that underlying connection we share with all people.
Gimme Noise: What did you set out to achieve on this new album? Do you feel you met those goals?
David Bauernfeind: Our main objective is always to make music that we are proud of. With this album we wanted to stretch ourselves musically and explore new sounds. We also wanted to write honest lyrics that don't shy away from the changes and challenges in our lives. We were lucky enough to work with our good friend Aaron Ankrum (Aerial View Studio) who understood these goals and really pushed us to accomplish them. We are super proud of We Are The Same and can't wait to share it with people.
Gimme Noise: Any standout tracks on the new record?
David Bauernfeind: We love all the songs on this album, but we're particularly excited about the way "Among the Graves" and "Chelmno" turned out.
Symbol & Surface will release We Are the Same on Thursday, July 25 at the 7th Street Entry with Bora York and Meg Kirsch.
18+, $10 (includes copy of album, 7:30 pm
Purchase tickets here.
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