The Picadors reunite after 22 years

Categories: Interview
Daniel Corrigan
The Picadors in the early '90s

Life has a way of throwing curve balls when you least expect it. Sometimes it can take an unforeseen, unfortunate event to create the type of circumstances that bring old friends back together.

Last October, Todd Stenson was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Costs from the ensuing medical bills have been crippling. A benefit show for Stenson was arranged for this Sunday at the Amsterdam bar in St. Paul, and Stenson's partner Heather requested that Twin Cities alt-rock act the Picadors perform. Thus, after 22 long years, the band found itself reuniting in honor and support of their old friends.

"We always thought we'd get back together and play, but there was finally a good reason," says drummer Noah Levy (Tift Merritt, The Honeydogs, Brian Setzer, the BoDeans, etc.). "We fell back into it so easily."

Daniel Corrigan
The Picadors

The Picadors originally formed in Minneapolis in the late '80s. "Heather was really instrumental in introducing us all to each other," says Noah. "She dated John Munson, who was our producer. I was in a band with her brother, and she introduced me to Chris."

The Picadors' ringleader Chris Lynch vividly recalls those early days. "We had a very magical experience together," he says. "I met Noah and Luca [Gunther] through John Munson, who was my roommate at the time. I was living with John and I was writing a lot of songs. They brought Jon Duncan and said oh, you've got to get this keyboardist in here. We also thought we needed a lead guitarist, so we asked Noah's brother."

Noah's brother is Adam Levy, who happened to be in another band at the time. According to Lynch, Adam was a bit "aloof" to the idea of joining the band. However, he was eventually roped into playing guitar with the Picadors. "He had this cover band he was playing in and we were like, 'Come on, man! Ditch those guys!'" says Noah. "He was playing with this horrible blues band. They were really bad."

According to Adam, at the time he was quite busy "whoring around" with several bands, honing his guitar skills and trying to earn some extra cash from playing music. "My brother talked me into checking out the Picadors and I loved the music. Chris is just a complete character," Adam says. "The guy was well-read, he told funny stories, he was absolutely cocksure of his music, and it brought together so many things I love as a little kid. Chris was kind of like the Pied Pieper -- wherever he went, we would follow him."

Courtesy of the Artist
Chris Lynch today

"I had complete faith in Chris's ability as a songwriter," Adam continues. "There was
this assuredness. You know when you meet somebody and something it going to happen and you're just certain that it is. I felt that."

Things picked up quickly. The band released their first album Praise & Blame in 1990, and Pretty Penny the following year. They performed regularly in local venues like the 400 Bar, Williams Pub, and the Uptown Bar. Noah remembers being so young that he was still in high school when the first album came out. "I was a kid; I was 17 when I joined the band. I was going to St. Paul Central. I was playing at night and going to school in the morning. In The Entry, I remember they used to check my drinks. They would go up to them and take sips of them."

They embarked on a couple of tours together. "It got pretty intense," says Adam. "We traveled and we made records, and for a couple of years I really felt like that band was my identity. Those guys were my best friends in the world. I sort of envisioned, maybe this is what I'll do for the rest of my life." Their unique brand of music set them apart from other local acts. "There weren't a lot of other bands charting the territory where we were at the time," Adam continues. "Part of it sat squarely in the era we were in and a lot of it was about kind of the archaeology of older music styles and trying to make something new from things that we loved from the past."

"The group of guys we were -- it was so different from the other rock bands around us, because everyone was very earnest and into literature and good films, so our conversations were so nice," says Lynch. "Driving across the country together...We were very democratic. I would bring a sketch of a song, and then we would all go to work on it, and would work so diligently. It was such a different time."

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