Out of the void

Black Diet to debut first album and headline Hymies’ Record Store Day Block Party

Six-piece Minneapolis band Black Diet rehearse in Minneapolis on Tuesday night. Black Diet is celebrating the release of their first album, Find Your Tambourine, on Saturday at the Hymies Record Store Day Block Party.

Image by Chelsea Gortmaker

Six-piece Minneapolis band Black Diet rehearse in Minneapolis on Tuesday night. Black Diet is celebrating the release of their first album, “Find Your Tambourine,” on Saturday at the Hymie’s Record Store Day Block Party.

by Jackie Renzetti

After just one year of playing together, the six-piece Minneapolis band, Black Diet, is facing a whirlwind of success.

“It came out of nowhere,” vocalist Jonathan Tolliver said.

After being named one of the seven “Best New Bands of 2013” at First Avenue in January, Black Diet quickly garnered attention. Ultimately, they landed a spot in Vita.mn’s “Are You Local?” contest and won first place and a trip to play at SXSW.

This Saturday, the group will headline Hymies’ Record Store Day Block Party and celebrate the release of their first album,  “Find Your Tambourine.”

Authentic soul and Motown elements are abound throughout the album, especially on the first track, “Don’t Sleep Alone,” in which minimal keys accompany a four-part harmony sung into an omnidirectional microphone.

At the same time, Black Diet puts their own twist to soul.  David Tullis’ drumming, Mitch Sigurdson’s guitar riffs, Sean Schultz’s groovy keyboard parts and Grouse’s bass mix garage rock sounds with the fervent passion of Tolliver and back-up vocalist Margaret “Mugsy” Keller.

The band still vividly recalls a time before a dozen emails a day, a period of playing as much as they could, wherever they could. Though there were small victories here and there, all of their work seemed to be going under the radar — until January.

“It was basically like we were shouting into a void for the longest time, and then someone yelled back,” Schultz said.

“Thank you for shouting back,” Keller added.

Since Tolliver first began his quest in 2011, members have come and gone — the current combination has been together for roughly a year. Tolliver wrote the songs on “Find Your Tambourine” before all the present-day members were together, but each individual’s experience and talents helped develop their current sound.

 “This music is organic to us,” Tolliver said.

The group doesn’t seek to recreate picturesque suit and tie soul music, but rather to perform the type of music they enjoy while skillfully making it their own — a sentiment corroborated by the fact that most of the members’ other bands are R&B- and blues-focused.

“We’ve played this set, like, come on, how many times? And it’s exciting every time,” Tullis said.

“Now we get a chance to interact with a song in its most infant stage,” Keller said. “This new [future] album will involve all of us much more.”

Though most were absent for the origins of the tracks, each member has a chance to shine on “Find Your Tambourine,” which epitomizes the group’s aim for perfection with room for personable quirks.

The album’s fifth track, “It’s No Secret,” is a jam session that was recorded by accident.

This spontaneity contrasts sharply with the structured nature of the other songs, in part because of their age.

The album was recorded on two-inch analog tape three different times for the sake of improvement. The group opted for minimal editing, leaving in human moments such as vocal peaks on the mics, two coughs and a bottle being thrown.

Though it reps some fine-tuned songs, the album itself is an almost untouched recording of a live performance in Garrison’s basement, completed in one day. 

Despite their growing local acclaim, band members remain modest with a sense of humor.

“I just want people who aren’t my friends to like [the album],” Schultz said.