Pyramid Songs

Local synth band Food Pyramid is proving why they’re vital to a balanced musical diet

Chris Hontona, left, and Chris Farstak of Food Pyramid play at the Turf Club on Saturday in St. Paul.

Image by Joe Michaud-Scorza

Chris Hontona, left, and Chris Farstak of Food Pyramid play at the Turf Club on Saturday in St. Paul.

by Sally Hedberg


Minneapolis is a wellspring of musical talent. But not all of it gets pushed into the limelight. Some truly impressive bands, not unlike James Bond, remain cloaked in mystery âÄî doing their thing and doing it well, but operating outside the parameters of mainstream society. Food Pyramid is such a band and their trippy, psychedelic jams are giving Minneapolis every reason to embrace a sometimes overlooked instrument: the synthesizer.

For Food Pyramid, it all began with three dudes and a coffee shop. C. Farstak, C. Hontona and M. Weather all worked at Dunn Brothers and somehow, between swiping credit cards and steaming milk, they decided to start a synthesizer band.

âÄúI donâÄôt think any of us expected it to go this far,âÄù Farstak said. âÄúWe just wanted to have fun.âÄù

âÄúI didnâÄôt even expect that,âÄù Hontona joked.

Clearly, the upbeat crew is having fun, and why not? TheyâÄôve got plenty of reasons to smile. Not only are the synth-masters popping up on stages all over the Twin Cities, but theyâÄôre also sitting on the release of their second cassette tape, âÄúFood Pyramid II,âÄù which was released Nov. 22 by Moon Glyph and will be available for sale at local stores such as the Electric Fetus and Treehouse Records.

âÄúWeâÄôre just really enthusiastic about synthesizers and live electronics and playing together,âÄù Weather said. âÄúThe [Minneapolis] music community is really fun.âÄù

What everything obviously boils down to is the music itself, which serves as a novelty in a music community thatâÄôs dominated by more traditional band structures. Their interpretation of manufactured sound takes the route of Krautrock, channeling âÄô70s synthoids like Tangerine Dream or Ash Ra Tempel.

Though they acknowledge the diversity of the Minneapolis music scene, Food Pyramid is not fazed by being distinctive.

âÄúItâÄôs not a matter of fitting in, itâÄôs a matter of doing what we like to do,âÄù Farstak said.

The band uses synthesizers to create catchy, atmospheric soundscapes that, in their complexity, push the listener into a daze. Though not everyone digs synth music, Food Pyramid makes it difficult not to marvel at the sheer technical intricacy of each track. The sounds are multifaceted and cosmic, a sound aesthetic that the band relishes in completely.

âÄúItâÄôs fun shaping the sound and a lot of the times constructing it from scratch,âÄù Weather said.

âÄúItâÄôs definitely a process of diving in,âÄù Farstak added.

With a tour, an appearance on Radio KâÄôs âÄúOff the Record,âÄù a third cassette, and the beginning stages of a full-length LP in the near future, thereâÄôs a lot to anticipate from the band. Based on whatâÄôs been delivered so far, theyâÄôve left Minneapolis hungry for Food Pyramid