What’s wrong with the Minnesota music scene?

Twin Cities music fans are howling over comments made overseas by one of their own.

19 year old Jordan Gatesmith of the Minneapolis band “Howler” was interviewed by the The Guardian, and thanks to the internet, within a day or two his complaints about the Minnesota music scene made their way home.


Howler band members, from left, Brent Mayes, Jordan Gatesmith, France Camp, Ian Nygaard and Max Petrek

Photo courtesy Chris Heidman

So what was Gatesmith’s big complaint? Mainly, that Twin Cities “tastemakers” are picking the wrong talent to support (in some cases, over and over again), while more compelling acts are left to fend for themselves. Here’s a quote:

Ok, this is so hard, someone is going to hear this I know, but I’m just going to say it. There’s this band called the 4onthefloor, for example, and the gimmick is that they play, you know, they have four kick drums, and they all play the kick drum on the floor, and they’re like Mumford & Sons crap. I’m sorry. But that will get huge. They’ll do like crazy big venues, then everyone will be like, ‘Yeah! 4onthefloor is the band to watch! Everyone get ready!’ And then, of course, nothing will happen outside of Minneapolis for them. And I think a lot of bands that kind of do the punk rock thing, or kind of the underground thing are the really good acts that will just never see the light of day. So I have a hard time with Minneapolis.

Does Gatesmith have a point?

Well, “Howler” certainly not the only band that’s found fame elsewhere first; the band Tapes ‘n’ Tapes was popular outside of the state for several years before Minnesotans embraced it as a local success story.

On my colleague Andrea Swensson’s Local Current Blog, Gatesmith’s comments have sparked a conversation about the state of music in the Twin Cities, with some commenters stepping up to support Gatesmith’s claims.

Still others took issue with the fact that the 19 year old musician actually cited 4onthefloor, rather than keeping his criticism more general.

While Gatesmith’s comments were to a UK reporter, he’s made similar remarks here at home. Just a few weeks ago, my colleague Chris Roberts profiled Howler. During the interview Gatesmith joked about Minneapolis being “the city where dreams go to die.”