SCHOENBURG: The entire Minneapolis underground scene is doing cassettes now

Categories: CD Release
Photo by Cori Miller
Alex Leeds, Billy Schoenburg, Graham Barton, Dane Hoppe
Nuance, delicacy, and poise are things that you expect to come with age or time, or both -- not necessarily from some former music students residing in Minneapolis. SCHOENBURG -- made up of Billy Schoenburg, Graham Barton, Dane Hoppe, and Alex Leeds -- describe themselves as pop-rock, but they are so much more than that. Tracing their roots to Sufjan Stevens and Paul Simon, they make music whose pop leans more to the side of indie-folk and creeps in with a light touch that sets them apart from their peers.

Before their release of Selfish Luvv on cassette and residency at the Nomad World Pub on Thursday, Gimme Noise caught up with Billy and Graham to talk about their love of cassettes and how a fight with a bum was the beginning of a musical friendship.

Gimme Noise: You guys seem to do a lot of EPs. Why do you think this works for you?

Billy Schoenburg: Because they're easier to put together than a full album. It gives us a chance to find our sound. On this new album, we've reformed the sound; this was the process of us doing that.

Graham Barton: We stripped it down -- the sound and songwriting. It's more palatable now. We started with three people, and it's weird, because we tried to emulate the live show with three people on the record.

BS: We have four in the band now, so we can do almost anything, because we wrote this album with the idea of being able to play the songs live. It was a big goal of this album to be able to play in noisy bars. We ditched the acoustic guitar for the most part, even though it shows up on the EP here and there. Live, it's just the two guitars, bass, and drums.

This new album sounds very Beatles-esque. Are you trying to get an opening slot for Paul McCartney when he comes to town?

BS: [laughs] Oh, my god. I would die if that happened. There would be nowhere else to go from there.

There's always room to grow as an artist.

BS: Sure, there is. On Selfish Luvv we kicked it into standard songwriting forms. Graham and I have been doing a lot of the writing together. It didn't start out that way; at the beginning, it was mainly me as the songwriter and Graham was the full-on producer.

GB: Usually it starts from nowhere. He'll have a riff or a melody.

BS: Sometimes Graham will fill in lyrics.

GB: Sometimes we'll sit on a song for a while, if we're not feeling it.

BS: There's some pieces that have never seen the light of day. We've got about 20 works in progress.

That sounds like every band out there. Does it feel weird to play in a band with your moniker? Graham, are you thinking, "This guy must be the most narcissistic jerk ever to name a band after himself?"

GB: [laughs] It was very narcissistic, but he did get us to try and change it at one point.

BS: We've made it to this point with this name, and the band decided to keep it.

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