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Throwback Minneapolis power-pop band Private Interests go public with debut EP

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In the age of Apple, it’s easy for fancy digital music production software to overshadow the visceral impact of a first recorded take. The raw nature of recording in analog is its own aesthetic, with all the griminess, imperfections, and noise unearthing beauty in the murk. Instead of perfectly mixed frequencies and timed beats, there’s an unmatched tenacity. 

Minneapolis power-pop band Private Interests propel at a machine-gun clip over high-speed beats and fire-starting guitar solos, making their '70s-inspired take on “spy rock 'n' roll” sound both old and new at once. No computers were involved in the making of their debut EP, Only for a Moment, out now on Forged Artifacts. 

“I like recording live. I feel like there’s an honesty to it, and there’s just a warmer quality,” bassist Trevor Engelbrektson says ahead of his band's cassette-release party Friday at the Eagles Club in Minneapolis. “You have to perform your song right, otherwise you can’t fix it. It makes your band tighter.”

Private Interests began playing together in the fall of 2015, after Mystery Date frontman Johnny Eggerman (vocals, guitar) met Cameron Soojian (vocals, lead guitar) earlier that year at Minneapolis DIY venue Secret Service. 

“I wanted to do a mod-revival band like the Jam, and I was getting people together and I saw Cam’s band Thee Rugs and I was like, ‘Holy shit, this guy is good at guitar,’” Eggerman says. “We were working on stuff for a while and not really finding a rhythm section that would stick.”

When the pair brought songs they were working on to Damien Tank (drums), he said he'd join the band on one condition: That Engelbrektson, whom Tank had played with since high school (most recently in soul group Southside Desire), audition to flesh out the group’s fast-paced rhythms.

“We definitely knew we wanted to play fast,” Soojian says. “That was one thing we all agreed on. Damien allows us to do that a lot because we can only really go as fast as our drummer. I think a lot of the speed from the band comes from that.”

“At the heart of it, we’d just take the barebones of a song, and we would just play it together and try different stuff until it starts to click,” Eggerman adds.

The band recorded many of their songs live with the assistance of Eliot Gordon at his all-analog Minneapolis studio, while choosing to mix the tape with Mike Wisti.

“There wasn’t that much isolation at all,” Soojian says of the recording process. “In studios, sometimes you have the amps in a separate room, but one amp was in the kitchen, one amp was in the living room, Damien was drumming in the living room, so we recorded in the whole house which was pretty cool.”

The resulting six-track EP wears its influences on its sleeve. Only for a Moment reimagines the guitar-driven pop of late-'70s punk bands like the Jam, Buzzcocks, or the Records. Additionally, intricate, Thin Lizzy-style guitar harmonies are filtered through Private Interest’s “nervous, itchy energy." Song "Only For a Moment” grapples with the inescapable force of time, while the Ramones-esque “I Need You” chugs along as Soojian repeatedly pleads "I need you to back away" to a lover he can’t escape.

“I don’t even think about what I write lyrics about, personally I just write them,” Eggerman says, noting that his songwriting generally speaks to the “omnipresent monotony of life.”

The Only for a Moment cover art evokes the band’s interest in spies, noir, and Russia, where Eggerman recently returned from a trip.

“I like how rough [the album photos] look, it looks very tactile,” says Tank, who designed the EP’s artwork by scouring through old photo archives. “Just how they’re kind of fucked-up looking, like an accidental punk-rock aesthetic that’s already there. It’s like happy tourists on a diplomatic mission in a very difficult time between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. It looks like old family photos, but it was a very serious trip.”

The photos bring an uneasy sense of nostalgia, much like the songs across Only for a Moment do. On the EP, Private Interests sound as though they're on the verge of collapse, as if the paranoia that defined the Cold War was finally set to a wild, analog power-pop soundtrack. 

Private Interests
With: Distant Husband, Star Child, What Tyrants
When: 9 p.m., Fri., Oct. 21
Where: Eagles Club 34
Tickets: $5; more info here