Tears dry on their own

Local Minneapolis band Frankie Teardrop break up and release their final album.

Joe Cristo

Many local music scenes are filled with throngs of bands led by mopey, long-haired dictators keen on emphasizing originality over catchy hooks. There is an obsession with the new, the technical over the emotional. 

Minneapolis band Frankie Teardrop was an exception to these rules. They played fast, short earworms that blended braggadocio with naivety that were always catchy and never boring.

Now, after two-and-a -half years and six releases, Frankie Teardrop is calling it quits. After a few more shows and a final performance at the Minneapolis Eagles Club on June 17, the group will disband and start working on different projects.

 Founded in 2013, singer-songwriter Jordan Bleau developed the project and persona as a postmodern rock ‘n’ roll experiment that emphasized playing as loud and fast as possible.

“Rock music can be very aggressive,” Bleau said. “I used to be really into that but I don’t find myself listening to that type of music anymore’”.

Bleau, who primarily writes, records and sings the songs himself, moved to Minneapolis by way of Iowa City to start a band and play music influenced by Parquet Courts, Burger Records and late 1970s New York punk rock. Soon, he had recorded the first Frankie Teardrop release, “Tough Guy”.

On “Tough Guy” and many of the band’s early releases, Bleau played a character, someone with rigidly defined masculinity and a love for gold and “bling”. The reason was simple, he said.

“When you write songs any way, it’s a fraction of yourself,” Bleau said. “Maybe it’s idealized, or maybe it’s what you want to be. But having that persona, that dumb, vapid, uncaring thing was just a lens to write through.”

After writing the songs that would become their debut release, Bleau initially recruited bassist Jack Woolsey and drummer Gunnar Kauth for their live shows and began playing in basements, bars and clubs, where they received enthusiastic responses.

“[‘Tough Guy’] definitely built excitement around the band for sure,” Bleau said. “And [the persona] was fun to do for a while.”

The band eventually added a second guitar player, Dan English, after seeing him at most of their shows. This lineup was the one that recorded their final album, “Hell Yep.”

“[English] was always just at everything,” Bleau said. “We had the same friends and talked to the same people. So I went up to him and asked him to join.”

With their full lineup complete, it was common for the band to go on tour across the Midwest and to play well-attended Twin Cities street festivals. They were fixtures at some of the largest local gigs in town.

In 2014, after a moderate amount of local recognition, they released the “Raiders” LP. The record was a distillation of the sound they had earlier achieved, ironing out song structures and recording quality. The lyrics shifted topics — they were less focused on irony and putting the audience on and instead dealt with serious topics like relationships and mental health.

The band has had a few different drummers in the years after its inception before enlisting current player Konnor Johnson. Since then, the current lineup has stuck to playing the final record live and a few slower songs that remain unreleased.

“Hell Yep” has been the most successful Frankie Teardrop release to date, with more Bandcamp streams in the first month than their previous records. 

The future for the members is not clear at the moment. Bleau wants to start writing pop songs and potentially switch out some guitars for synths. As of right now, he’s memorializing the past and enjoying himself the best way he knows how: joking around.

“Are we just a dumb rock band?” Bleau said. “Sorta. But then you ask yourself, ‘Why did I start recording music at 14?’ ’Cause I love how music makes me feel, you know what I mean? That’s what I want to get back to.”