by ROB VAN ALSTYNE
Unlike most 21-year-olds I've known, Ian Anderson has larger concerns then scrounging up enough money for the next night out and making sure his apartment is reasonably well stocked with Ramen noodles. Co-founder of 3-year-old on-the-rise local music label Afternoon Records, and guitarist in post-punk-prog trio Aneuretical in addition to being a full time student at St. Olaf, Anderson’s idea of a “slow” day typically involves calling up promoters to book summer tours for the nine different bands on his label. Somewhere in Anderson’s already overbooked day planner, however, time has been made for a new project that channels his workaholic tendencies in an exciting new direction—the shiny power-pop crunch of One for the Team, the first band for which Anderson has taken center stage.
“I really love pop music,” explains Anderson of the impetus behind his latest endeavor. “I’m a complete sucker for anything that’s catchy—but ever since I was 16 I’ve been writing weird indie music with Aneuretical that was consciously strange and sort of, ‘Hey, let’s play in odd time signatures because it’s cool.’ The creative nature and challenge of that was cool, but I’ve also still felt like I needed to write pop music and over the years I’ve written pop songs that never really fit in with Aneuretical; One for the Team really grew out of those ideas.”
to his word, the 10 songs that make up One for the Team’s debut, Good
Boys Don’t Make Noise, provide quite the contrast to Aneuretical’s
dark and dense rockitude. Sounding like a cross between Matthew Sweet’s
gooey hook-heavy classicism (Anderson’s got a similar penchant for multi-tracked-helium-high-vocals)
and the barbed guitar heroics of Built to Spill in their more concise moments,
One for the Team has come through with one of the most exciting local indie
pop debuts in recent memory. Although one could be forgiven for simply bopping
his or her head to One for the Team’s pleasing jangle, Anderson acquits
himself remarkably well in his first band-fronting foray, coming up with a set
of affectingly angst-ridden lyricism delivered in a pinched boyish croon that
makes up in sincerity what it lacks in dynamics.
“Being the singer is a totally different experience,” says Anderson.
“When I started I didn’t expect it to be that big of a difference.
With Aneuretical, I got used to being on stage with [singer/bassist] Matt [Sandstedt]’s
good looks distracting people. Once I started singing I realized, ‘Oh
crap I have to be interesting.’ Singing lead and singing backup are totally
different things. I trained myself for a long time to try and sound as much
like Matt as possible when I was singing back up and now I’ve sort of
had to start finding my own voice. I kind of had to just nurture the inner Ian
voice, which is a terrible way to put it. A lot of singers talk about how it
takes time to find their voice and I can see how it takes years and years to
do it. I certainly feel like I’m still finding it.”
Anderson’s inner voice has its own charms and is perfectly suited to the
material, a collection of snapshots that captures the death throes of carefree
adolescence and unsure transition into early adulthood with the kind of precision
that can only be produced by someone who’s fresh from the experience.
Anderson’s lyricism feels equally deft when dispersing jaded wit (“Well
I’ve been called many things in my life / But handsome ain’t one
of them / So reinvention has become my new passion / I’ve been coming
of age most all of my life”) or plainspoken optimism (“We will build
this revolution out of basements made of music”).
Unlike many songwriters who feel compelled to pile on layers of artifice, Anderson
writes what he knows. In the process, he’s crafted a song cycle heavy
on classroom imagery, collegiate relationship crises and self-doubt. “I
really like honest music; I strive to be as honest as possible in my music,”
says Anderson. “For me it doesn’t make sense to talk about something
beyond me, something that isn’t me at all. I care a lot about politics,
but if I started singing about how much I hate Bush and acting like I was in
the Dead Kennedys it wouldn’t make sense. It just makes more sense this
don’t have to make up a back-story about any of these songs. The back-story
is my life. When I was 17, I decided I would never write songs about girls because
I never wanted to, I just thought it was beating a dead horse. For a long time
I really fought against the impulse to write about these sorts of thing. Then
I finally realized I kind of want to write about relationships. These are the
kind of things everybody has to deal with and can sympathize with.”
With Good Boys Don’t Make Noise slated to hit the streets shortly,
the next phase of Anderson’s all-consuming passion for music will officially
be underway. Rather than showing signs of being stretched too thin by the demands
of running a label, actively gigging with two different bands and writing term
papers, Anderson sounds giddy about the self-imposed demands of his schedule.
“Of course music starts as an internal kind of thing,” says Anderson.
“If my soul wasn’t being nurtured and fed from doing music then
I don’t think I would ever do it, but I can’t ignore the positive
influence and encouragement of a lot of people in the local music scene. I think
in other sorts of scenes if I had gone around and said, ‘Hey I’m
thinking of starting a pop band,’ a lot of people would have rolled their
eyes at me, but here everyone was like ‘Yeah, do it—the sky’s
the limit.’ Everyone in the music community here is so encouraging and
thoughtful—and it’s not just a Minnesota nice thing—everybody
chips in and helps out and cares a lot. Without the support of the community
I don’t know if my confidence would be high enough to even do something
like One for the Team. I definitely attribute a lot of my work ethic to that
support. Hopefully this record will strike a chord with the local scene and
keep perpetuating that good feeling.” ||
One for the Team play their CD release show on Sat., June 3 at the
Triple Rock Social
Club with openers Battle Royale and Viceburgh. 5 p.m. All Ages. $7. For
more information on One for the Team check out their record labels official
website at afternoonrecords.com.