by Jeff Milo
"Minutes get thrown into all sorts of categories," said Hensley. "Someone recently said that we weren't punk rock because we were 'too tight, too organized.' I took offense at first because I've embraced the punk-rock ethos for so long that whatever I engage in musically should always share the "punk" vibe: DIY, community-minded, inclusive and not afraid to question authority and to speak out about your beliefs."
For Minutes, their musical ethos is pure and heartening - serve the song. Personally, I would want my music teachers to be "organized...," whatever you might think "punk..." is
"It's the mindset," said Hensley, "not the sound or the fashion... 'Indie-rock' means nothing; the title has been so over-saturated and bastardized over the years that it actually means nothing now. Labels like that tend to obscure the sound or the feeling a band is hoping to convey."
And with Minutes, though the energy is always up, though the guitars and drums often carry the same bracing sting any rushing gale would, there's a nuanced signature to each 2-minute shake-up.
"There's three songwriters in our band," Turner said, "each with our own distinct voice and vision. We wanted to serve that (on the Self-Titled LP) in a positive way."
That word "positive" comes back later.
"It feels strange to talk about our album so openly," said Turner, "but I will say this: I'm really proud of how positive our music is..."
Who says "punk" means bumming people out, or being disingenuously existential or misanthropic. There's more than one way to be iconoclastic - and Minutes shows that you can do it with some sweet melody.
"I usually say we're a rock band," Turner said, "and...that we play with some volume, so you might want to wear earplugs."
Bassist Mark Larmee noted that everyone in the band has either: "worked at records stores, been radio/party DJs, or worked in places where music was important...We are the type of people who absorb records, so if influence spills into ideas, I wouldn't be too surprised. We've never set out for a specific "sound" and nothing is off the table as far as new songs go..."~ This band of multi-instrumentalists started playing music as a unit in the summer of 2008, each of them in their 30's, each of them lifelong musicphiles who've "formed a strong relationship" with the vinyl records of their formative influences.
"I firmly believe," said Turner, "that (Nelson) and I became friends because-of our shared-love of both The Breeders and the Grifters (but, I'm a Eureka EP dude and Ryan's stone-cold Ain't My Lookout)."
Turner said it was their shared appreciation for "the ramshackle gnarliness of those two bands" that drew them together.
Said Turner, "Mark and Chafe I've known longer and Mark and Chafe have been in bands together for the better part of a decade--they actually share the same birthday as well, which is a metaphysical connection, I guess, and I grew close to them through our shared love of similar bands in the Michigan-area (Sah, Ohio's Knife the Symphony, and The Chantymen."
The band's shared resume from previous bands certainly notable - (Hornet, Soccer Team, Mesa, Beauty Pill, Routineers, Trocar, Straphanger, First to the Fence, Spit for Athena, The Most Secret Method, Imipolex G, Wishek, Jury Rig)
Two years ago they put out their first EP on 7" vinyl...
-this writer's personal favorite:
With both Chafe and Turner writing via email just minutes before they had to "head into class," they offered some more insightful musings on music - from perspectives of a listener, songwriter and a teacher.
Turner, clarifying that his bandmates may feel differently: "...the bands that 'excite' me now days are much more marginalized than they would have been in the past. I literally never read about them, hear about them, or see their names in print, pretty much anywhere.""...And I say that NOT as a curmudgeon, but as an informed, thoughtful listener to albums. I find no connection to maybe 90% of the stuff that I'm required to 'keep up on' for my job. I will decline to name names of what doesn't work for me. HOWEVER, here is a list of records that we have enjoyed over the past year or so, and maybe that'll help answer this question from another angle: Bill Callahan's APOCALYPSE PJ Harvey's LETENGLANDSHAKE The Chantymen's DOWN Ladyhawk's SHOTS The Office of Future Plans' self-titled album The Aquarium's "Battleof the Bands" 7" Onieda's many, many albums The Bismarck's GREAT PLAINS Soccer Team (Ryan's other band) Light Coma's COUNTERPARTS Whales's first album And Many others ..." Most importantly, though, Turner feels "much more connected to a community of musicians than I would have been, say, ten years ago, or rather, I cast a much wider net than before..." And concerning their first proper debut, Self Titled Turner said that bassist Larmee ("the core of the band, for my money,") put it best when he called it "mid-fi..." made under "strange but really HEALING circumstances..." It cleared the vaults of the songs they've been developing over the last four years and girded their commitment, to continue collaborating and evolving, and, really, to stay connected - as Nelson recently moved to D.C. The band lives on though...And continues to display an endearing mark of sincerity, a blend of rust-belt blue collar with life-long musichead-isms and DIY-punk reverence... "We don't have a manager or big plans," said Larmee, "Minutes has four constant goals: write songs, play shows, make records, and travel with our friends once in awhile. This album reminds me of a guy that walks into a coffee shop and just sits down in the corner without ordering. He hasn't taken off his sunglasses and looks like he may have slept in the woods last night. The customers are a little uneasy, but before the barista can ask him to order something, he slips into the bathroom. He is in there for a long time and everyone is convinced he is up to no good. When he finally emerges, he orders a coffee with a smile, tips well, and then engages the patrons at the counter in a smart but fun conversation. He asks about good local bands, buys a coffee for the road, tips well again, and leaves quietly. He comes back inside shortly thereafter and tells the cafe someone left their lights on in a blue Subaru and asks where he can find a good Co-Op or Middle Eastern restaurant. For the record, he is not wearing sandals or bright colors, but seems happy all the same. Self Titled -to Hensley, "isn't just us... It's an extension of our community." ... But Larmee puts it best when he's asked to describe this record, Self-Titled: "This album reminds me of a guy that walks into a coffee shop and just sits down in the corner without ordering. He hasn't taken off his sunglasses and looks like he may have slept in the woods last night. ...The customers are a little uneasy, but before the barista can ask him to order something, he slips into the bathroom. He is in there for a long time and everyone is convinced he is up to no good. ...When he finally emerges, he orders a coffee with a smile, tips well, and then engages the patrons at the counter in a smart but fun conversation. He asks about good local bands, buys a coffee for the road, tips well again, and leaves quietly. He comes back inside shortly thereafter and tells the cafe someone left their lights on in a blue Subaru and asks where he can find a good Co-Op or Middle Eastern restaurant. ....For the record, he is not wearing sandals or bright colors, but seems happy all the same." March 5th at the New Way Bar in Ferndale - joined by Destroy This Place and Whales (from Chicago)