STNNNG and ft (the Shadow Government) to debut STNNNGVRNMNT at Art-A-Whirl

Categories: Q&A
STNNNG_Steve_Cohen.jpg
Photo by Steve Cohen

The rock particles have merged and a new element is being added to the periodic table. STNNNGVRNMNT, as Modern Radio Record Label has lovingly dubbed the new creation, will soon release a limited edition 12" (only 100 copies) to the general public. The ten-member big band collaboration between STNNNG and ft (the Shadow Government) will make their public debut this weekend with a release party and celebration of the annual Northeast Art-A-Whirl at the 331 Club.

Whenever two bands pull together into one it's an intriguing prospect. STNNNG have long been purveyor's of forceful local rock -- the type that bowls over the audience and leaves audience members either broken and lying in the gutter, or cheerfully marking another "X" on the scoreboard. Teaming up with Iowa City's ft (the Shadow Government) though, has added a new dynamic. ft (the Shadow Government) are a noise group based in multiple cities, including local ties. The two bands have been friends for some time, but pulling their differing musical styles into one cohesive project is a new ordeal -- especially when considering the difficulties of getting just a few of the members into the same room at the same time.

To catch up on how the record was made and what it will sound like, Gimme Noise reached out to ft (the Shadow Government) ringleader Luke Tweedy for a rundown on how the collaboration works.

See Also:
The 331 Club's lineup during Art-A-Whirl 2013: Night Moves, Jaill, STNNNG, and more
Slideshow: STNNNG at the Turf Club & Big V's, 2/23/13
STNNNG: All real, no frills: Local music vets work with the legendary Steve Albini on Empire Inward

Gimme Noise: Where did the idea for this collaboration come from?

Luke Tweedy: I cannot say exactly who came up with the idea, as that memory is no longer with me. When it was hatched, we decided to play with STNNNG a bit in the Twin Cities and try and write as a "big band." Beyond that there was some back and forth over the interweb. It worked out surprisingly well, considering.

How does the collaboration work? Did you all get together in a room or write separately and then come together, etc.?

This recording was made over the course of a few years. We needed everybody to get to Iowa to record. STNNNG was able to stop by while they were on tour, and we got part of it while recording some of Smoke of My Will. ft(the Shadow Government) is spread out pretty far with five members in four states (Iowa City, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Duluth currently) with a lot of shit going on, making getting us all together at once quite a challenge.

Do you feel that this record comes across more as an (ft) the Shadow Government sound, STNNNG sound, or straight down the middle split?

I hope people view this as a true split. There are things about the recordings that are very STNNNG and very ft (the SG). I feel like, once people familiar with the bands hear it, they will say, "Of course this is what it was going to sound like." There are 11 people on the recording between the two bands, and everybody did a good job of injecting themselves into the soundscape. It might be heard as cacophonous to some, but personally I am drawn to non-traditional sounds, and avant rock stuff, so I am quite proud of the way this turned out.

Descriptions of (ft) the Shadow Government focus on the noise aspect, but melody is a big part of what you do. How do you focus on incorporating the two together? What is at the core of an (ft) the Shadow Government song?

(ft) the Shadow Government started off as a noise project between Joel Anderson and me. Despite the fact that I tried to get him to ditch his talent and lust for melody, he just could not sink to my level. After a couple of shows it became obvious this was going to morph into a more traditional band than [I had] originally conceived. At that point my only goal was to surround myself with people who were a lot better than I was. Being a lifelong fan of music, and an avid show-goer, I knew who I wanted to play with; those people are now ft (the Shadow Government).

Conceptually speaking, conspiracy and hidden truths fuel (ft) the Shadow Government. Is there a dominant conspiracy at play?

There are conspiracies all around us, some right out in the open and others not so obvious. Most certainly, things that I believe and know to be true, other members of the band would dispute and hold onto a different perceived reality. Some lyrics are straight to the point and others are more ambiguous giving the listener room to insert the reality they occupy into the music.

ART-A-WHIRL @ 331 in NE Minneapolis - Saturday, May 18

Outdoors
8pm - 10pm - STNNNGVRNMNT / STNNNG / FT(The Shadow Government)
7pm - Marijuana Deathsquads
6pm - Bomba de Luz
5pm - Heavy Deeds
4pm - Crimes
3pm - The Parlour Suite
2pm - The Ericksons
12pm -Walker Fields

Indoors
12am - Story of the Sea
11pm - Prissy Clerks
10pm - Sleep Study


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