Be warned: If you ever think about heckling a local band after having one too many cocktails, they may well be in the kitchen of your favorite breakfast joint the next day. In the case of the Guystorm, the odds are in their favor.
After hanging out with the band for a few hours, I am certain that they have touched my food. It's likely that they've touched yours, too.
During a recent meeting at Stub & Herb's, the bar where lead singer and quasi-manager Angelo Pennacchio works, the Guystorm are busy compiling a list that reads like a veritable murderer's row of quintessential Minneapolis eateries, all of which have employed members of the band. The names include Caffrey's Deli and Subs, Panera, Sunny Side Up, French Meadow, Barbette, Rainbow Chinese, Indio, the Bulldog, Cafe Agri, Memory Lanes, Matty B's, Town Talk Diner, 501 Club, Zelo, Mt. Fugi, Marin's Table, D'Amico and Sons, Nokomis Lanes, Jimmy John's, Convention Grill, and Davanni's. The guys reread the list over my shoulder. "I know we're forgetting some places," they say.
The fact is that the band wouldn't even exist without the service industry. Guitarist Ryan Norton was given a 600-dollar loan from his restaurateur boss to purchase the electric guitar he uses today.
I ask bassist Tanner Lien what the future holds for the band. Will they continue on at this pace? Will they finally get out of their respective kitchens? After all, the band has risen through the ranks of the Minneapolis music scene at breakneck speed. Barely over a year and a half into the Guystorm's existence, they're readying their second EP, getting airtime on and shows booked through the Current, and preparing for their first Midwestern tour.
Lien shakes his head. "What, like, get famous?" he says condescendingly. "Nothing's going to happen. We're not going to get famous. We're a dirty bar band. That's all."
Hearing this comes as a shock after seeing a number of the band's performances over the past year. The Guystorm have and will be called a lot of things, but modest is not one of them. (This isn't to say that the band take themselves too seriously; check out some of their press photos to find an amateurishly photo-shopped series featuring the band next to a tiger, holding an adult baby, and drinking super-imposed cans of Mountain Crest.) The Guystorm's sets are loud, raucous, and full of grandiose rock gestures. Pennacchio's swagger is so confident it could be confused with Robert Plant's. It's not uncommon to see a member of the band in the crowd, shirtless and wandering, as if to offer those with a poor view in the audience the full picture.
The first time I saw the band, back when they barely had enough songs to get through a set, Norton jumped onto a tall, wobbly table, danced a bit, and jumped down without looking, never missing a step—something you don't see from a typical band still in its infancy.
The band's brash live shows, combined with their relatively short history, have inspired a fair amount of criticism, though one thing no critic could say in earnest is that the Guystorm don't connect with audiences. Getting typically timid Minnesotans to crowd a stage and dance to music they're unfamiliar with is no small feat, and these guys pull it off at every show. The Guystorm also seem aware of this, and it makes them all the better. Playing with such confidence puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the players; if they go down, it's going to be in flames. After all, if you're jumping on tables in front of an audience and your songs suck, you end up looking like an idiot. Fortunately for the Guystorm, these antics only improve the spectacle.
At this point, they're less the little band that could, and more the little band that has to. For a town known throughout the world for being so goddamn nice, this is unbelievably refreshing. And for those who don't appreciate the Guystorm's attitude, there are a hundred other bands in the city that will thank you endlessly for coming to their shows.
But if you want to have fun listening to the best new proto-punk the Cities have to offer, check out the Guystorm as they kick off their tour at the Hexagon this weekend—the perfect place to send off this "dirty bar band."
THE GUYSTORM play with Chelsea Boys, Phantom Tails, and DJ Twin Towers on FRIDAY, JULY 31, at the HEXAGON BAR; 612.722.3454