Interview: Tender Meat

A&E sat down with local electronica act Tender Meat to get down to the bone of what makes their instrumental sound work.

Interview: Tender Meat

Mark Brenden

Tender Meat WHAT: CD release WHERE: Turf Club WHEN: Nov. 28th With: Skoal Kodiak, Fat Kid Wednesdays Tickets: $6 There is one general rule of thumb for an instrumental band: If you arenâÄôt going to have words, your music better speak for itself. Tender MeatâÄôs heavily-produced Nintendo pop âÄî which tows the line between intriguing and amusing âÄî orates clearly, saying, âÄúBig noise speaks louder than words.âÄù The band, which is comprised of John Coe on drums and Andy Fritz on guitar, grew up in the rolling plains of western Minnesota and attended Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley, Minn. Now they play 8-bit electronica jams that are as big as a canyon and as clean as a whistle. After having released two EPs last year, the duo will be releasing a full-length, âÄúItâÄôs a Tender World,âÄù at the Turf Club. A&E sat down with the self-described âÄúemotronicâÄù jam rockers to converse about Japanese pop, being funny and frat boys. How do you think going to an art high school like Perpich Center for Arts Education affected your musical psyches? John Coe: Well we were exposed to a lot of music. ThereâÄôs a really good music community. A lot of bands we play with today went there, like Moonstone, Tips for Twat. There are at least 10 people I know that are in the scene and we are affiliated with that went there. There are no lyrics in your music. You guys donâÄôt like words? JC: We used to have singing, and sometimes we still do, but we have kind of âĦ stopped doing that [laughs]. Andy Fritz: ItâÄôs really hard. To play and sing at the same time? AF: Well, just to come up with something thatâÄôs not terrible. Would you say that your sound has changed since Neil Zumwalde [New Tectonics head wizard] produced you? JC: I think the quality of our CD has improved a lot. I think he really just made it sound like what we wanted it to be. Which is what? JC: Just clean and big and audible. Just as close to professional as is affordable. Who or what has influenced the sound you want to accomplish the most? JC: I mean, we like a lot of electronic music, and we like bigger bands that have done big recordings, bands that have been in really nice studios. We like hip-hop a lot. ThatâÄôs in the same vein âÄî really cleanly produced, big sounds. Any specific artists? JC: YMO (Yellow Magic Orchestra) are a good example. They were huge Japanese pop stars in the mid-to-late âÄô80s. AF: And even in the âÄô70s. One of my favorite albums from YMO is âÄúSolid State Survivor,âÄù from like 1978. It sounds amazing. Like it still sounds really good to this day. What do you like most about the Minneapolis scene? JC: The quality of the music, in comparison to other cities weâÄôve seen or heard about. WeâÄôve done a little bit of touring and seen shows in other cities. The people here are just more committed, I think, to making a more finished product. ItâÄôs not just some kind of art performance, which isnâÄôt necessarily bad. I donâÄôt know; I think people just take it more seriously. How important do you think it is to be funny? JC: I think itâÄôs pretty important. The music isnâÄôt a joke, but it has humor in it. I think with a lot of bands itâÄôs either youâÄôre Tenacious D or youâÄôre a joke. Or it has to be really serious. ThereâÄôs not really any in-between. AF: Because IâÄôm not serious 24/7. People donâÄôt just walk around completely serious all the time âÄî so why would you make music thatâÄôs always serious? Anything else youâÄôd like to say to a college audience? AF: WeâÄôd be good at a frat house. WeâÄôd like to do that [laughs].