Zoo School graduates Yer Cronies channel their camaraderie into song

Yer Cronies
Evan Gedlinske

I'm staring at Casey Garvey, waiting for him to elaborate. He rubs his hand over his trendy mop of brown hair as the seconds tick by awkwardly. Nothing. I look beseechingly at the other three members of Yer Cronies, who are nursing Rolling Rocks and PBRs on the back patio of a ramshackle northeast Minneapolis triplex. Silence.

It was a simple enough request, your typical music critic question: "Tell me what this song is about?" The song, "Sacramentosauras," is the fifth song on Yer Cronies' gorgeous, brooding, proggy, and anxious debut release, When I Grow Up.

With a name like "Sacramentosauras," how do you not ask what it's about? Yet I never do get an explanation. It's almost as if it has never occurred to these four friends that they might actually have to explain what their music means to someone else...or to each other for that matter. It would be like explaining it to yourself. They seem to just "know." The way four guys who have known each other since middle school just "know." It definitely doesn't make for the best interview, but it does provide an enticing glimpse into that rare band in which there appear to be no egos, no individual ambitions.

I know. I know. The whole "We're like brothers, man. We're in this thing together till the end!" thing could not be anymore tiresome and clichéd. But the sentiment seems genuine with Yer Cronies.

"We're a band. We don't see ourselves as individuals. There are no credits on the album as far as who does what," says bassist Mike Brown.

"We try to write as one organism," concurs drummer Jared Isabella.

On the band's MySpace page, next to "Sounds Like," it reads "Friendship."

I like what "Friendship" sounds like. It's melancholy but not despondent. It's anxious but not frenetic. It's expansive but still somehow raw. For a band that is just over a year old and recorded its debut album in one of the member's bedrooms, When I Grow Up is an astonishingly mature, thoughtful, restrained when needed, daring when justified, rock n' roll record.

The ease and intuitiveness with which these four 22-year-olds create music can no doubt be attributed to the fact that they've known each other since middle school, cementing their friendship while attending high school at the School of Environmental Studies at the Minnesota Zoo, also known as the "Zoo School." Did studying amid the social systems of snow monkeys and tapirs and Komodo dragons somehow bond these boys in a strange sort of deeply instinctual, animalistic way? Who wouldn't like to think so?

When asked who their influences are, Brown immediately replies, "Each other," matter-of-factly. No doubt that is the case, but for those of us not part of this hyper-symbiotic relationship, comparisons can be made to the Alarmists, My Morning Jacket, and Gomez.

That said, Yer Cronies aren't some embarrassingly derivative copycat band lurching at the latest indie trend. They are their own thing. They demonstrate this beautifully on the haunting, mysterious, and very much their own "Daniel Day," a reference to that most hunky final Mohican (Garvey was a filmmaking major in college). It begins dreamily, swirling with echoing, gritty guitars. The song lopes along, melancholy and lethargic, but with a brooding anger underneath that the band soon expertly releases as Garvey sings in his best Jim Morrison: "We all sit around waiting to get paid, we ain't getting paid/We all sit around waiting to get saved, we ain't getting saved."

Like most every band made up of early 20-somethings, the members of Yer Cronies claim they are hell-bent on making a career out of making music, yet they admit they haven't figured out exactly how to make that happen yet.

"We basically can't not do this," Garvey explains. "We want everyone who is involved with the music to feel part of it, too, not just four guys who are completely detached."

As if to prove the band doesn't take itself too seriously, the five-foot-seven-inch Isabella responds, "Personally, I'd love to play pro basketball."

Poll Winners:

  1. Lucy Michelle & the Velvet Lapelles (74 points)

  2. Gospel Gossip (72)

  3. France Has the Bomb (39)

  4. The Wars of 1812 (35)

  5. (tie) Lookbook, Private Dancer (32)

  6. (tie) The Dynamiters, Voyager (31)

  7. Bouncer Fighter (30)

  8. Muja Messiah (24)

  9. Yer Cronies (22)

  10. (tie) Black Audience, the 757s (21)

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