Profile: A Paper Cup Band

A&E gets the story on Mpls.’ answer to Pavement.

Raghav Mehta

WHAT: A Paper Cup BandâÄôs release of âÄúSitting Shotgun to a StatueâÄù WHEN: Friday, June 4, 10 p.m. WHERE: The Hexagon Bar, 2600 27th Ave. S., Mpls. TICKETS: Free If Rivers Cuomo , Stephen Malkmus and Beck were ever sitting together on a loveseat during a nuclear blast and became fused together like Siamese triplets, the result would probably end up sounding something like A Paper Cup BandâÄô s latest album. Their third release, âÄúSitting Shotgun to a StatueâÄù is chock-full of facetious non-sequiturs and âÄô90s low-fi pop, channeling everything from the disheveled slacker-sounds of Pavement to sunny Weezer-like geek rock. This Friday, A Paper Cup Band will unveil their latest concoction, joining the stage with local acts like Zombie Season and Teenage Moods at the Hexagon Bar . With a nasally yelp and wry wit, 26-year-old singer/guitarist Andrew Jansen weaves mopey tales of failed romance and quirky social interactions over arrangements that drift away from their signature brand of âÄúbastard-folk,âÄù ultimately gravitating toward a more polished pop-rock sound. Playing in a manner that is as laid-back and frolicsome as the bandmatesâÄô general demeanor, A Paper Cup Band is one of MinneapolisâÄô best-kept secrets. Unified by their love for hook-heavy âÄô90s pop, the three-man unit was formed by Wisconsin natives Kyle Sobczak (drummer) and Andrew Jansen (guitarist/singer). âÄúWeâÄôve all been bathing in the âÄô90s since we were five years old,âÄù said Jansen. Both originally from the quiet suburb of Mequon , Wis., Sobczak moved to St. Paul to attend McNally Smith College of Music and formed the band with Jansen in 2006 before recruiting bassist Griffin Fredrickson shortly afterward. In their formative years, the band developed a small underground following playing house shows as they fine-tuned their folk-based punk. What may be âÄúSitting Shotgun to a StatueâÄôsâÄù greatest feat is how smoothly it flows while bouncing between different styles. The opening track, âÄúWater Droplet,âÄù is a buoyant three-minute groove rich with poppy goodness that wouldnâÄôt at all feel out of place on an early Weezer record. But the record takes a detour in âÄúThermose,âÄù a torpid folk ballad driven by a blaring harmonica. JansenâÄôs sharp lyrics make him sound as clever as he is heartbroken as he sings: âÄúNow IâÄôm sea-sick and supple with envy / âÄôcause his hands are now touching the place I once was / Oh if only once more you could lend me / and release me from this brain lack luster fuzz.âÄù The albumâÄôs variances makes it unclear where exactly A Paper Cup Band falls on the rock âÄònâÄô roll spectrum, but they donâÄôt seem irked by the ambiguity. âÄúI donâÄôt think we identify with a singular scene,âÄù Jansen said. While the group praised the local music scene, Jansen acknowledged the hurdles. âÄúItâÄôs hard to be in a band when thereâÄôs so much music going on and then when youâÄôre just starting out for a while, only like ten people will go to your show,âÄù he said. âÄúAnd sometimes you get discouraged and you give up and go back to Columbia, Missouri, or something.âÄù But itâÄôs A Paper Cup BandâÄôs shared drive for experimentation and new sounds that keeps them hard at work. âÄúEvery album is slightly different, so I think that helps keep it moving forward,âÄù Sobczak said. If there is real qualitative issue with âÄúSitting Shotgun to a Statue,âÄù itâÄôs the albumâÄôs length. With none of the songs surpassing the four-minute mark, the album leaves something to be desired. But thatâÄôs not to say it still isnâÄôt a finely crafted collection of music. Perhaps whatâÄôs most refreshing about âÄúSitting Shotgun to a StatueâÄù is its utter lack of pretension. ItâÄôs the sound of a band coming into their own but still willing to tread uncharted waters. âÄúMusic is like your little buddy that follows you around on adventures,âÄù Sobczak said, âÄúAnd no matter what you do, itâÄôs just kind of that sidekick that reflects whatever youâÄôre doing.âÄù