Dreams of Next Summer

Al Church and his band perform their first concert at the Turf Club

Jackie Renzetti

Al Church[J1]  is claiming a spotlight of his own.

The Minneapolis[J2]  bassist, drummer and singer spent the last two years recording his debut album “Next Summer.” [J3]  Church has previously performed in Al Church and State[J4]  — which is on hiatus with a probable return, he said — as well as with Pink Mink[J5] , Frankie Lee [J6] and Haley Bonar. [J7] [J8] This Friday, he performs his first public concert with his band for its album release party at the Turf Club. [J9]

“I wanted to explore the frontman idea where I’m not playing any instrument and kind of hiding behind the guitar or the piano,” Church said. “It was fun to break out from that and just kind of focus on connecting with people and writing songs people could dance to.”

“Next Summer” sprinkles in saxophone with his drum and guitar grooves to make dance floor-ready tunes. Reminiscent of progressive ’80s rock, the album deviates from the rock feel of Al Church and State.

Church also currently plays with BBGUN[J10]  and Private Oates[J11] , a Hall and Oates tribute band. He cites Warren G[J12] , Hall and Oates, [J13] and Genesis[J14]  as key influences.

Church said his interest in music started when he’d make music with his neighbor friends as an 8-year-old. He focused on learning guitar, bass and drums while he grew up.

“I remember listening to Smashing Pumpkins [J15] and David Bowie[J16] , some weirder voices, and kind of connecting with that. I feel like everyone has a voice,” Church said.

Church enjoys collaborating with others in the song-development process. But for the final recordings, he contributed the guitar, drums and bass himself. He said he wanted to ensure the sound he envisioned for his solo effort, particularly with the drums.

His album will release in the CD and digital formats, and he said someday he hopes to release it on vinyl. For the first 100 copies sold, buyers will also receive an artwork brochure.

“Next Summer” centers on various moments in relationships, especially during the summer.

“I kind of dug into the expectations and love and love lost and just traveling,” Church said. “Summer is an interesting thing in the Midwest because there’s just like a crazy winter that even the thought of warm weather right now is like, ‘Oh my god, anticipation.’”

Church looked to specific slivers of time for songwriting inspiration.

“It’s a solo album, but there’s a ton of other people’s takes and stories and experiences,” Church said.

Church decided to write “Birthday Party[J17] ” during a trip to New York. [J18] As he walked down the street with his fiancée, he noticed a dad singing to his kid, “I’m coming to your birthday party.”

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s so awesome.’ It just stuck with me,” he said. “So I kind of created a song with that vibe but turned it into something different.”

Jeff Marcovis [J19] helped engineer and track Church’s album. He also will substitute as a drummer in the band’s upcoming shows. Matthew Sandstedt [J20] co-produced the album with Church and plays keyboard. Other band members are bassist Evan Fox, [J21] drummer Levi Stugelmeyer[J22] , saxophonist Cole Pulice [J23] and singer Mina Moore.[J24]

“He can make anything boring into something fun,” Marcovis said. “He could pick the simplest, most mundane vocal overdub and it could just be like the best time of your life.”


What: Al Church

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: The Turf Club, 1601 University Ave., St. Paul

Cost: $8-$10

Age: 21+