by Rob van Alstyne
“This band was kind of born out of loss,” explains Andy Allen, singer/guitarist for new Twin Cities outfit the Tin Horns. “We sort of all had lost sight of what we were doing and were having a hard time. Then we came together and this band was sort of the answer.” Coming together at a time when all of their previous projects were fizzling out, Allen and singer/bassist Dan Wenz (who had worked together for years in The Tide) found themselves joining forces with drummer B.J. Wuollet (formerly of the Stereo) and guitarist Casey Nelson (formerly of End Transmission) early last year. All involved immediately realized that moping over the demise of their former groups was no longer the order of the day.
Download an mp3 of The Tin Horn’s song Ballad of Nonsenso.
“I had been out in Arizona to make ‘the big record’ with the
band I was in at the time, and within like three weeks we had broken up,”
recalls Wuollet. “Andy was the guy who picked me up at the airport. I was
immediately like, ‘this is our new band.’ The first time we played
together it was just awesome. Dan and Andy had been going through a hellish winter,
I wasn’t doing anything musically anymore and just really wanted to play
the drums again. It was perfect and immediately more meaningful than the band
I was in before.”
out of good vibes between old friends who’ve already been around the Twin
Cities musical block more than once, The Tin Horns sinewy and sexy take on the
indie-rock playbook as encapsulated on their debut album, Tin Horns Present:
The Champions of Victory, is immediately gripping. Led by the dual force of
Wenz and Allen’s voices, the two trade off on lead, co-mingle spooky harmonies
and belt out passionately over a bed of frenetic percussive action from Wuollet
and with stinging guitar counterpoints from Nelson.
Cuts like the funked up falsetto-friendly proto-punk of “Ballad of Nonsenso”
recall Q & Not U’s latest effort, but the band proves just as adept
at gently rolling vocal-driven acoustic balladry (“Odd Nuance”). The
combination of Allen’s dramatically operatic windpipes (he pulls off some
serious Jeff Buckley-styled acrobatics at points) with Wenz’s lower-pitched
sneer-ready vocals keeps the listener on the hook throughout, whether they’re
indulging an affinity for danceable tuneage or slamming out sinister slabs of
Nearly every track boasts a particularly memorable moment of musical chemistry
(the stealthy piano run perfectly in synch with a punchy drum fill between the
verses on “Speak Easy,” the way a beautifully simple country-ish electric
guitar lick melts into the chorus of “Roll Call”) that makes it clear
The Tin Horns are a well-oiled cohesive unit and not just a singer/songwriter
with some rotating players. In other words, the Tin Horns are a band with a capital
“The bulk of the songs were written last winter by Dan and Andy before Casey
and I were in the picture,” admits Wuollet. “But they kind of morphed
into something else when he and I joined the band and started playing with them.
They’re still changing I think. Now when we write songs it’s like
everybody just together in a room … with no drinking or drugs of any kind
“That band aspect of it all is pretty essential to the songs on the record
and really what we’re doing in general,” claims Nelson. “People
will bring somewhat completed songs to the table, but everybody is always free
to add their thing and no one’s going to be like, ‘play this here.’
Or, ‘that’s too jazzy.’”
the time the band headed into the studio to record with noted local producer Knol
Tate (of Askeleton) it was the perfect marriage of an experienced-yet-hungry unit
and an open-minded, innovative producer.
“We had demoed everything along on 8-track pretty good by the time we brought
the songs to Knol so they were pretty much completed when we got there,”
claims Nelson. “Which was great because then we just got to have fun and
add more tracks and just kind of put more details on there.”
“The cool thing about Knol is that he’s a producer who’s so
open to experimentation and trying things,” says Wuollet.
“I think we just ended up with a pretty lucky situation where everyone involved
was on the same page with what they wanted to hear,” offers Allen.
Just 10 months removed from their first show, things are moving rapidly for the
Tin Horns and they wouldn’t have it any other way. “I personally have
pretty high expectations for this record,” admits Wuollet with a certain
gleam in his eye. “The last two shows that we’ve played we’ve
been able to walk around and not know the majority of the audience and that’s
just a really cool point to hit locally. Sort of, ‘wow we’re drawing
people who aren’t just are friends.’” ||
The Tin Horns play the CD release show for The Champions of
Victory on Mon. Feb. 14 at the Triple Rock Social Club with The Swiss Army,
Vox Vermillion and Aneuretical. 9 p.m. 21+. $5. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Mpls. 612-333-7399.
Find out more about the Tin Horns at MySpace.com/TimHorns.
Download an mp3 of The Tin Horn’s song Ballad