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Twin Personas: How Was the Show’s Andrea Myers & Bob Longmore

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Twin Personas Interview

As an outsider looking in on the local Twin Cities music scene one may be left with a simplistic look as to what it is that The Cities and their modern artists have to offer. But aside from conversations surrounding Hüsker Dü, The Replacements or even Tapes ‘n Tapes what does the rest of the nation honestly know about the music and the musicians of Minneapolis and St. Paul? As an outsider myself it is overwhelming when attempting to step into The Cities and figure out just where to being when attempting to find the best music that they have to offer.

In this, the introductory edition of Twin Personas, How Was the Show editors Andrea Myers and Bob Longmore take some time to answer some questions about who is better than Tapes ‘n Tapes, the recent closing of The Quest and their favorite local musicians. And what better way to begin the search for excellent local music than to discuss just that with those who report on it on a daily basis?

In the past year how has living in the Minneapolis area affected your personal musical taste?

Andrea Myers: I definitely listen to local music more than national music now, which wasn’t true a year and a half ago. Ironically, I would say I listen to a more diverse range of music now, as I have spent a lot of time exploring local hip-hop, jazz, and experimental music. The bulk of my listening still centers around relatively conventional indie rock, indie punk, and folk rock, though, as those seem to be the most common genres locally.

Bob Longmore: I listen to way more local music than nationally known acts. So living in Minneapolis affects my musical taste greatly.

What has been the most rewarding opportunity to arise through your work with How Was the Show?

Andrea Myers: I have had a lot of opportunities to do fun things. I was approached by Pulse to start writing music columns for their paper, and soon after I became assistant editor and then editor at HWTS. I have gotten to do a lot of great publicity things for the site, like appearing on Drive 105 Homegrown once a month, recording podcasts for Minneapoliscast.com and having our work syndicated by Rift Magazine. The music community here is so interwoven and supportive, and I feel like HWTS has really allowed me to become involved in every way that I can.

Bob Longmore: Well I have met a lot of interesting people through my work at HWTS. I’ve met some writers, musicians, bartenders and just other music fans. It has also opened the doors to some other writing opportunities for me, but more than that it has given me a place to experiment and grow as a writer and editor. I would have to say the most rewarding part of working for HWTS is the other staffers. HWTS is an all volunteer organization and everybody that gives their time to making the site run does it for the love of music. The dedication and passion of these people is a big part of what makes me proud to be involved with the site.

How has writing for HWTS helped broaden your outlook on the local music scene?

Andrea Myers: Writing has given me a reason to stay up to date with local music, and it has helped broaden my outlook in every way possible. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is that this is a fairly small town, and that most everybody knows everybody and is in everybody’s band. I wouldn’t have noticed that as much from “the outside.”

Bob Longmore: I certainly hear about a lot more bands being the Assistant Editor of HWTS, but that doesn’t mean I get a chance to check them all out. I wish I could. I definitely have seen bands that maybe I would not have given a chance if not for HWTS. We are constantly trying to find new bands to spotlight.

Andrea, how has maintaining your blog, Minneapolitan Music, helped enrich your overall experience with music?

Andrea Myers: I use my blog to sound off about things that I haven’t necessarily researched enough to write an article about, so in that way it helps me to develop ideas about new music without feeling like I have to be too formal. It also helps to have a sort of electronic journal to look back on so I can remember which bands I have seen and when I first saw them.

With the outstanding publicity of Tapes ‘n Tapes taking much of the attention given to music in the cities in the past year, are there any bands that you feel were overlooked by national media?

Andrea Myers: Tapes ‘n Tapes is one of those internet phenomenons where the right people liked them at the right time and now they are gigantic. I don’t believe that they are the best band in Minnesota, but they are deserving of the attention and have become especially powerful live now that they have toured extensively. If I had a say in who in Minnesota got to “be famous” next, I think White Light Riot, Stuart D’Rozario, Brother Ali, Stook and Tim O’Reagan are all poised to take the world by storm.

Bob Longmore: I think Tapes ‘n Tapes proved that sometimes you just need a little bit of a break to start an avalanche of exposure. I don’t think there were any bands that were slighted by the national media. I think there are definitely a few bands that given the exposure could really excite people beyond the Twin Cities. I think Duplomacy’s record All These Long Drives could stand next to any release from last year.

Who could take the place of Tapes ‘n Tapes in the next year?

Andrea Myers: What I feel are the best local bands and what is actually going to be favored by the masses next year are likely two different things. Right now the most popular sounds seem to be indie pop, Britpop, and experimental hip hop, so I suppose The Alarmists/White Light Riot or P.O.S./Brother Ali would be the best local candidates of the moment.

Bob Longmore: What happened to Tapes ‘n Tapes last year seemed so random. I have great respect for them and I like them a lot, but a year ago I don’t think anybody would have guessed what a jump they would make onto the national scene. Just like this year I don’t think you could pick someone to duplicate that success.

Are there any local trends that you see developing on a national level?

Andrea Myers: The interesting thing about the internet is that it is allowing sounds to develop regionally; people are relying more and more on MySpace and iTunesto find new music, and it is allowing more bands to be heard by more people. Locally, there is a tendency toward indie rock and the general desire to be the next Replacements, and I can see that trend spreading nationally.

Bob Longmore: I wish I was smart enough to know. I think I suffer from the forest/tree syndrome. I see these local bands like Big Ditch Road, Brian Just, Duplomacyand others and I think they are really good. I fall in love and obsess over them and tell my friends about them, but I don’t often think in a big picture kind of way. Maybe that is a shortcoming as a chronicler of local music.

To reverse that question somewhat – what national or global trends have been accepted and built on in the local scene in recent memory?

Andrea Myers: I think people are pretty much doing what they want right now, though I think the recent rash of indie bands was probably caused by a movement nationally toward all things indie.

Bob Longmore: This is not a new trend, but it is one that I have been thinking about a lot lately; that is the effect of the internet and digital music on a local level. To use HWTS as an example, even before I started working for the site, I used it as a way to learn about new bands. I think the speed at which information can travel even in a local scene can help and hurt a band. I also worry about the effects of digital sales and big box retailers on the local record stores. Let it Be, Aardvarkand Root of All Evil all closed in relatively close period of time. I don’t know what that means to other independents or to local musicians, but I still find it scary.

In the 1980s Minneapolis was renowned as a scene – do you see the chance of a new scene developing as even a possibility in the future given the city’s increasing diversification?

Andrea Myers: Definitely. I think people glamorize that time in Minneapolis, and in many ways things are more exciting now than they ever were before. Instead of have two or three really great bands we have hundreds, and you can go out any night of the week and catch a great local show. I think our hip-hop scene is already nationally revered, and it’s just a matter of time before people catch on to all of the great new bands that are popping up here.

Bob Longmore: I hear stories of the ‘80s for sure, but I don’t know what it was really like. I think when bands kind of support each other and bring each other up it is a good thing. I see some of the Eclectone bands doing that and I see The Alarmists/ White Light Riot/Debut crowd doing that. I think it’s a good thing for those bands and it’s a good thing for up and coming bands to think about. It helps broaden the fan support so a fan of The Alarmists could say, “you know if you like these guys then you should check out this other band.”

Does the recent closing of The Quest, a club which I personally hold positive feelings towards, have any long term indication as to the future of live music in the cities?

Andrea Myers: I doubt it. The Quest was a club that had the misfortune of being managed poorly. There is still a huge demand for live music in The Cities, as evidenced by the number of sold out shows at First Avenue and the creation of new clubs like The Myth, and I think the niche that The Quest filled will be filled by other clubs now. The Entry is already taking on lots more all ages shows, as is The Varsity.

Bob Longmore: There maybe some people that will miss that venue for the venues sake, but I don’t think that there are bands that aren’t going to come to town because of the absence of The Quest. As for local bands, there are so many places to play and be seen that I think the quest won’t be missed in that aspect.

With the exception of the nationally acclaimed First Avenue which local clubs have you found to be the top in the cities in terms of experiencing live music?

Andrea Myers: My favorites are The Varsity, which always has top notch sound and lighting, The Entry for its pro sound and The Triple Rock because it books so many great national bands. The Hex and The Uptown are reliable places to see great local music.

Bob Longmore: The Turf Club is always a great place to see a show. The crowd is usually into it, the people there are awesome. The Clown Lounge downstairs is nice reprieve when you need a break from the music.

What sets the Twin Cities’ live music scene apart from the rest of the nation?

Andrea Myers: The camaraderie among bands and people in the music community is mind blowing. People are so incredibly supportive of one another, as opposed to being competitive, and I think that is really unique.

Bob Longmore: I don’t know. I only know what people have told me about other cities. I moved to Minneapolis from Virginia Beach about ten years ago. Virginia Beach had virtually no music scene. There were some cool stores that have mostly closed now, and there were hardly ever any places for bands playing original music to perform. Comparing the two cities, you can see why I fell in love with Minneapolis ten years ago and have remained.

Who are the music influential people in local music today?

Andrea Myers: I would like to think that music journalists have a lot of influence on helping people find great local music, as do local radio show hosts, but I’m not entirely sure since I am sort of in the middle of it all. People who are dedicated to going to tons of local shows and spreading the word about their favorite acts are probably most responsible for helping to fill up clubs and sell local CDs.

Who are your favorite local musicians?

Andrea Myers: This is an answer that changes every week, but at the moment: Little Man, Stook, The Cates, Abzorbr, Brother Ali, P.O.S., Martin Devaney, The Mad Ripple, Dan Wilson, Tim O’Reagan, White Light Riot. I’m also really digging the Ice Palace album, and I just got into Molly Maher.

Bob Longmore: This is a tough question. It changes all the time. I go on little streaks of just absolutely loving bands and just listening to them all the time. I really love the Roma di Luna album right now, I just can’t get enough of it. But really I have respect for anyone that plays around town. I know that just like me writing for HWTS, they are not making any money at it, they are doing it because they love playing music. I may not like their music, but I always respect their passion and dedication.