A new angle on pop

by Jahna Peloquin

Trying to make it as a musician is like holding your hand in a flame as long as you can take it,” Brian Tester of local band Triangle says while holding his hand out over his cup of coffee at Cahoots Coffee Bar. He continues, “It hurts, but you’ve got to keep it in there”-either that, or give up.

Such is the story of Tester and bandmate Amanda Warner. After spending nearly four years in the tweakily poppy band Triangle, the duo reflects on the difficulties in keeping a band together amidst financial setbacks and a local music scene in a state of flux.

Hiring a publicist may not seem like a very “indie” thing to do, but it is “almost necessary,” says Tester, for a band to be successful on a larger-than-local level. Attempting to hold down a full-time job while putting energy into a band is a difficult balance to maintain, and Tester says few bands have the endurance to keep themselves going without the outside help of a record label or publicist. So far Triangle have stuck it out with no publicist.

Triangle might have had a tougher time getting to where they are now without the Foxfire Coffee Lounge, the downtown Minneapolis all-ages rock mecca that closed in 2000.

“Very few bands made it out after it collapsed,” Tester says of the Foxfire scene. Many bands found it difficult to move on to other venues and cope with the task of having to rebuild dwindled fanbases.

When Triangle was faced with this challenge, they took it in stride, intent not to give up. Warner says the band retreated from the live scene, content to stay home and put more energy into their music, which is lo-fi and minimalist while obsessively detail-oriented. But they’re still sentimental when the Foxfire is brought up.

“It was where we got everything going,” Tester says. “I’m really sad that it’s gone-it really fostered some experimental stuff.”

On the other hand, “It was interesting to go through a scene that imploded,” and emerge as one of the few bands left intact.

A year and a half later, Triangle are again optimistic. “The bubble is expanding, waiting to burst,” Tester says of the current local music scene. “It seems like something’s going to change.”

And Triangle itself is moving into new and exciting territory. Jan. 4 brought the band’s first official record release party for their full-length album on File 13 Records. Playing to a full house at the 7th St. Entry, the date also marked their first headlining show.

Making Triangle a trio again-founding member Susan Lindell left the band in 1999-Tester and Warner have added a drummer, Josh Grenier, to their live show. Grenier has begun recording with Triangle and is “definitely going to have a strong presence on the new record,” Tester says.

Warner is excited about the prospects adding Grenier’s perspective to the band will bring. She says, “We’re relying a lot less on a rigid sequence coming out of the computer-we get more freedom and opportunities to play things the way we feel.”

While Triangle’s sound has always stemmed from the fusion of the organic with the electronic, adding a human drummer will allow the band to expand in all directions. It seems Triangle is coming full circle, with hands firmly placed in the fire.

Triangle plays Sunday at the 7th St. Entry (701 First Ave. N., Mpls. 612-338-8388). Matt Pond PA opens. 8 p.m. $6. 21+.