Seeing red — again

Local shred-masters, Red Pens, will drop a fresh EP this Saturday at the Entry

by Sally Hedberg

What: Red Pens âÄúLimitationsâÄù EP release show

When: Nov. 6

Where: 7th St. Entry, 701 First Ave.

Cost: $7



ItâÄôs hard not to love the Minneapolis band, Red Pens. Their landslide victory in last yearâÄôs Picked to Click came for a reason and though their crown has now been passed on to a deserving Pink Mink, Howard Hamilton and Laura Bennett have plenty to be excited about. Like, say, the release of their latest EP, âÄúLimitationsâÄù

The drummer/guitarist duo first caught the attention of Minneapolis with their aggressive yet simplistic, distorted power-rock and electric live sets, an approach to music that, while somewhat prevalent within the Minneapolis scene, isnâÄôt always put in the spotlight. Through their consistent delivery and inherent skill, they gained enough positive reception to win them a coveted Twin Cities award, an achievement thatâÄôs pretty darn commendable coming from a music scene thatâÄôs brimming with talented bands.

More than anything, the award has kept their name floating around the city.

âÄúThe whole Picked to Click thing came as a total surprise,âÄù said guitarist Howard Hamilton. âÄúWe thought thereâÄôd be huge crowds of people at our shows all of a sudden and we were super relieved when it was just like 10 more people.âÄù

âÄúWhat it really did was help us to get a lot of gigs this summer,âÄù added drummer Laura Bennett. âÄúWe didnâÄôt turn anything down.âÄù

The new EP, a collection of six powerful songs, takes it up a notch on the production scale. This time around, the band ditched the house studio and got to work with Minneapolis production wizard Neil Weir at Old Blackberry Way. Weir has worked with bands such as Gospel Gossip, Private Dancer, Vampire Hands, and also his own group, Chambermaids. The result of the new location is undeniable. The collective vibe of the album is more cohesive and while they maintain the rough- riffed splendor that established their initial appeal, there is a newfound musicality that allows the listener to appreciate the actual songwriting. Before, this was often overpowered by noise.

âÄùI think that we definitely wanted to kick up the fidelity a notch but not too far,âÄù Hamilton said. âÄúWe didnâÄôt want it to sound super slick.âÄù

The Red Pens are loved for their abrasive, feedback-heavy sound, but this EP provides for a more multifaceted listening experience. ItâÄôs not just random noise.

âÄúIt was kind of like we went to this cool school, figured out what we wanted to do and now weâÄôre in college and sort of get more ideas out of ideas weâÄôve already had,âÄù said Bennett.

The ideas are good because âÄúLimitationsâÄù marks a newfound maturity for a group that, for now, is in quite a comfortable position within the local music scene. The future will be telling.

Though the band didnâÄôt feel pressure to impress after their Picked to Click win, they would have had nothing to worry about.

âÄúI donâÄôt think we really felt any pressure because nothing really happened that was mind-blowing from Picked to Click,âÄù Hamilton said. âÄúI just write songs whenever they come out.âÄù

Already, the group is working on a second EP that could be released in the spring, another bullet mark on their list of what theyâÄôd like to achieve this year.

âÄúOur goal is to just kind of survive the winter,âÄù Hamilton said. âÄúWeâÄôre gonna finish this second EP, play a few low-key shows and hopefully weâÄôll have a tour booked for March or April. That seems like a pretty good plan, ya know?âÄù