Heiruspecs' Sean McPherson: Our scholarship accepts kids who excel in creative ways

Categories: Concert Preview
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How do you sum up the extent of the impact and reach that Heiruspecs has had over the past 16 years? The most influential band to come out of St. Paul Central High School and a cornerstone of the original Minneapolis-St. Paul hip-hop scene, Heiruspecs have come to stand for something beyond the music they create. As the band's career has expanded and been cemented in Twin Cities history, Heiruspecs has sought a way to contribute to the culture of their hometown in other ways.

In 2010, Heirupsecs and the St. Paul Central High School Foundation partnered to create an annual scholarship fund for the school. To this day, Heiruspecs has distributed over $12,000 to Central High graduates who are pursuing higher education. To mark this outstanding achievement, as they have done in previous years, Heiruspecs will be putting on a fundraiser show featuring the band, friends, and some very special guests, where the entirety of the ticket sales will be donated to the St. Paul Central High School Foundation.

The Fourth Annual Heiruspecs Scholarship Fundraiser Show will be taking place this Saturday at Turf Club. The bill includes openers Whistlekid, DJ Beatnik, and Sean Anonymous, as well as some recently announced special guests: Dessa, Aby Wolf, and Carnage. Ahead of the show, Gimme Noise caught up with Heiruspecs founding member Sean McPherson to chat about the scholarship fund and its importance.

Tell me why this show and this project is a big deal.

It's a big deal because a lot of bands get together sort of despite or in spite of their high school, but [Heiruspecs] sort of came out of an environment. When we stopped touring as much back in 2008, we decided we would give back to the place that started us out. We started doing the scholarship fund to direct attention to a school that's doing great things and the program that inspired us. There's a lot of folks that do one benefit once and help things one time, and there's nothing wrong with that, but we wanted to do something a little more long-lasting. When kids are looking at high schools, we want them to recognize a place at Central, like, "If I know I'm a creative person, there is some funding if I get picked for this scholarship through Central." We're trying to build a sense of community.

So far, Heiruspecs has donated $12,000 to St. Paul Central High School. That's a big number. Tell me more about what the scholarship does for its recipients.

So, we've been giving away scholarships every year, three scholarships a year in the form of $1,000 -- so, $3,000 a year. They're given to these students that are going on to an institute of higher education, and the scholarship can be used for tuition or book reimbursement. We've talked to a couple folks that we've supported with the scholarship in the past, and we know that $1,000 is not a ton of money -- it's not going to get someone all the way to Christmas at a university, financially, but it can help them iron out the fringes of staying in school. It's the difference between borrowing the book from a friend a thousand times and buying it.

$12,000 is a big number to throw around in a press release, but the scholarship has made an impact on in student's lives. I applied for scholarships when I was a senior in high school, and I didn't see anything that represented where I came from when I was there. There were a bunch of scholarships from these huge corporations, or scholarships with names from people who had attended the high school forty years ago. It's a little different when you can go, "Oh, I'm a hip-hop kid, or I've been painting for the last few years," and then there's a bucket of money that's for you. When I was in high school, if you weren't a sports star or a scholastic star, then you weren't anything. We accept kids who excel and strive and succeed in other ways, and we want to celebrate that, even if it's not just music and scholastics.

Tell me what else we can expect from the concert on Saturday.

As far as the format goes, what we always do is hook up with two openers, and ideally, it's someone with a connection to the community. This year, we have the Whistlekid, some of whom actually go to St. Paul schools -- not Central, but it's really similar to where Heiruspecs came out of and the scene that Bomba de Luz is coming out of. The music is really interesting -- it's bluesy, and there's a youthful edge to it.

Then we have Sean Anonymous. He's a dude that we have literally known for ten years, and I never knew that he was taking his career super seriously until, like, five years ago when I heard him on the Current, and since then we've been really supportive of each other. And Nick Phillips [Beatnik] is just returning to town -- he's a pretty high-in-demand musical producer on a national scale, but he's a St. Paul boy, and he's a really perfect fit. He's going to be doing a DJ set at the show.

We've also got some surprise guests -- I'll tell you about them now... So it's going to be Dessa, Carnage, and Aby Wolf. And then Heiruspecs will be playing some new songs from the new record....

Do you have a release date down yet?

[Laughs] We're committed to October now.

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The 4th Annual Heiruspecs Scholarship Fundraiser Show will take place on Saturday, May 18 at the Turf Club. Doors at 9 p.m. $8 advance, $10 at the door. 21+. Purchase tickets here.



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