Surf-punk trio Last Import was formed when its members were barely old enough to drive.
Guitarist and vocalist Emily Bjorke, bassist Grace Baldwin, and drummer Jane Halldorson built a fan base playing all-ages venues like the Garage in Burnsville and coffeeshops like the Depot in Hopkins. When they released their Live at the Garage album on Bandcamp in 2016, they included a shout-out to Halldorson’s dad for recording their shows.
Now, the girls are women and have dispersed to college; Bjorke studies music business at Mankato State, Baldwin studies psychology and creative writing at the U of M, and Halldorson studies audio production at Hennepin Tech. But they still find time to jam. We spoke to the trio ahead of the Demo EP release show this Thursday at the Entry.
City Pages: What are the experiences or emotions that inform the songs on your new EP?
Grace Baldwin: We’ve all gone off to college this year so there’s obviously a lot more to experience when you’re away from home and doing all these things by yourself and living in the city. A lot of that influences my writing lately.
Emily Bjorke: I was living in Seattle and I moved back to Minneapolis after realizing how great of a city it was and how much I felt a part of the community. A lot of what I was writing about was the experiences I’ve had in the Minneapolis music scene.
CP: What college experiences in particular have been impactful for you?
GB: I started working at our college radio station, which is Radio K for the U of M, and getting to hear a lot of those local bands has really inspired me. There’s so many cool bands coming out of the cities and I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to get back into making music and be a part of this cool Twin Cities scene we have going on.
CP: Do you feel that your youth is an advantage or a disadvantage on the local music scene?
EB: I’d probably say advantage in the sense that sometimes there’s a level of surprise that we make the noise that we make.
Jane Halldorson: A lot of people see three young girls and they’re like, “We didn’t really have any expectations but you did good.”
CP: What artists influenced you as you were coming of age or developing your sound?
EB: We all, oddly enough, had extremely different influences. For me, I have a huge influence of Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. He’s my number one influence. That surf sound is something that I’ve always hoped to replicate in my music but still kind of be modern.
GB: I always kind of grew up on older rock, British rock, all that good stuff. I got into Radiohead and Smashing Pumpkins, that kind of emotional stuff. I always like to bring a cinematic quality or an emotional quality to whatever I write, which is influenced by those bands from the late ’90s.
JH: I listen to a lot of metal so I just like to play really loud.
CP: Did you always know you’d be a loud band? Was that always a goal of your music-making?
JH: I just get really excited and hit as hard as I can. It just has to be loud. At our live studio session, they made me play quieter. It did not work out.
GB: We play really loud. We’re so excited. We’re having a good time.
CP: It sounds like the noise is coming from a positive place rather than anger or some other negative emotion.
EB: A lot of what we’ve chosen to do as Last Import since it began was write about the human experience. I try and push the positive things to keep myself more optimistic.
GB: 2017 has been kind of a hard year for a lot of people, but I think that motivated us to bring even more of a positive message, be something that people can dance to and really get into. We want it to be that outlet for people.
CP: As an all-female band, do you hope to inspire other young women to pick up instruments and make loud music?
GB: Yeah, definitely. It’s gotten a lot better over the past years, but it’s kind of a male-dominated scene a lot of the time, so if we can inspire any kids to go out of their comfort zone and try something that they might not think they can do, then we’d love to do that.
CP: Do you have anything special or unusual planned for the release show?
EB: We really like when people dance with us. The whole premise of our show is we want to make noise and we want people to feel happy and to feel like they’re in a good place.
GB: Sometimes we get down on the ground and dance around and pull out some cool moves. But mostly it’s about the music.
With: If Eye May, Buffalo Fuzz, and Niiice
Where: 7th St. Entry
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25
Tickets: $8/$10; more info here