Minneapolis’ punk band Uranium Club discusses process and popularity

One might expect a punk outfit called the “Uranium Club” to have an explosive, noise-fueled outlook in all they do. But the members of the band are all pretty stable elements.

Local punk band Uranium Club pose for portraits in Wilson Library on West Bank on Sunday, Dec. 3.

Courtney Deutz

Local punk band Uranium Club pose for portraits in Wilson Library on West Bank on Sunday, Dec. 3.

Haley Bennett

A&E met with the club to see just how exclusive it is — and to preview their upcoming show.

From the oversized ad for a dentist’s office hanging in the kitchen to a taxidermied pheasant in the bathroom and A Tribe Called Quest humming in the background, little oddities punctuate the practice den of the local punk band “Uranium Club.”

The characters sitting around the table drinking mugs of Traditional Medicinals and Yogi tea: 

Matt Stagner — drummer with excellent taste in striped button-down shirts.

Brendan Wells — bassist and singer, soft-voiced with an authoritative presence.

Teen Man — guitarist with a gentle drawl.

Harry Wohl — Minneapolitan L.A.-dweller who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2014 with a double major in CSCL and art.

The group typically practices when Wohl is in town, which happens for three to six weeks, a few times a year.

Do you guys make the record covers?

TM: Everything on the records are all in-house. Even in this house, the chicken on the first record lives [a few blocks away].

What’s its name?

TM: Barbeque.

Creative process?

Wells: With everything that we do, there’s a fine line between catching up and talking about what we’re interested in, and the things that we’re doing with our music and art. We spend a lot of time shooting the shit, making jokes and that’s what turns into the song lyrics. We’ve always talked about people or groups who have done things that we admire. [However], we don’t like to throw around influences, because we’re not trying to follow a specific path.

Do you think it works better for creating music if you guys are friends?

TM: I think it’s essential to this band.

Wells: A lot of times it feels like [being in] a high school band in the sense that you and your friends are just fucking around, and you make up dumb jokes, and those jokes turn into songs. We come up with dumb ideas and it’s like, ‘Yeah, let’s actually do that.’

Stagner: There’s a vibe where you can try anything, and that comes from the closeness.

When did you start to gain a following?

Wohl: Immediately, honestly.

Stagner: People I didn’t know would say, “Yo, when’re you playing?” I hadn’t ever experienced that.

You seldom play live, and have almost no social media presence. Is it an act?

Wohl: It’s not completely intentional.

Wells: Even from the start, none of us had any interest in self-promotion.

Wohl: I read a review [of us] on Pitchfork that was like, “These guys are cold,” or something. It’s weird now, with the internet — if you’re not intentionally pushing yourself into situations, you could be taken as somebody who’s too cool for school.

Wells: At no point have we done anything intentionally, really. We’ve always just done what keeps us interested.

So what do you do to get noticed?

Wells: It’s Minneapolis. There’re a lot of people that go to shows, and that’re interested. That’s really apparent to me, coming from Iowa City, where there’s a strong music scene, but it’s small.

Wohl: We’re interested in concept, in artwork, and that’s how it’s progressed for us.

TM: We focus on the visual part of the band. We have uniforms that we wear when we perform.

Wells: We’re not intending to do things like other bands, so we’re not wearing bands’ t-shirts with our similar genre or something like that.

Wohl: After playing in other bands, I lost interest in the setting that live music usually takes. There are so many other terminals to explore.

Ideal setting for a performance?

Wohl: A nice theater, I guess.

The group recalls their performance in a drawing studio at MCAD in December 2016, when they used the life-drawing props to enhance their performance space.

Wells: We set up how the room was going to look and made a couple banners. Doing something like that reminds me of reading stuff about the early days of punk music, when bands were playing at art colleges, before a template had been set and there was a “way of doing things”… it can get very cookie-cutter… we want to be excited. For us, that’s trying new things and doing things differently. We’re not afraid of looking stupid… vulnerability is big.

Far from a kitschy ploy for uniqueness, Uranium Club’s personality reflects a genuine interest in reconfiguring rock. They make it seem that punk’s not dead — genres are.

They will play the Seward Cafe on Dec. 15 at 8 p.m., with local bands Motorrad Reisen, IE and Cokskar. Entry is $5, all ages.