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Where did all the after parties go?

Twin Cities music veterans First Communion Afterparty find new life paths
First Communion Afterparty will play at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis on Friday.
Image by Patricia Grover
First Communion Afterparty will play at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis on Friday.

The years have taken their toll on First Communion Afterparty. The psychedelic rockers have met turbulent times during their nine-year tenure in the Twin Cities music circuit, finding themselves in limbo since their hiatus in 2010.

Revered as the gold standard for psych-rock, the band’s future remains unclear.

They released a full length album, “Earth Heat Sound,” in November. The road to releasing the record proved arduous, as the band recorded the songs in 2009.

While the album was being produced, tempers began to flare between members of the band. First Communion Afterparty was at their peak after embarking on tours and pulling positive reviews for their throwback sound. After four years of constant focus on the music, the band had exhausted their creative juices for the record.

“It imploded on itself — we imploded on each other,” vocalist Carin Barno said.

Unhappy with the progress of the full-length, it was shelved in favor of an EP, 2010’s “Skyline, Starlight.”

“It seemed to become too much about having a party and not so much about making music together — it got really weird,” guitarist and vocalist Liam Watkins said.

Shortly thereafter, drummer Nic Grafstrom and bassist Sarah Rose parted ways with the group. Grafstrom left the metro area for greener pastures in Fargo, N.D., while Rose opted to form her own band, Is/Is.

“That was kind of like a breaking point,” Watkins said.

During their hiatus from First Communion Afterparty, Watkins and Barno found their own paths in life.

Watkins spent two years in River Falls, Wis., in an effort to distance himself from Minneapolis. He formed his own band, Driftwood Pyre, to pursue his love of touring — a testament to Watkins’ nomadic spirit.

Barno also formed a new band, Fire In The Northern Firs. In 2011, she also got married.

First Communion Afterparty remained an afterthought until Collin Axell of Picture In My Ear Records offered to fund the release for “Earth Heat Sound.”

Well-received nationally, the record is a surprising sleeper in local media outlets. Watkins and Barno said it’s because their band is old news.

“The Minneapolis music scene likes young, novelty band,” Barno said. “Now, we’re just regular musicians … We don’t have the appeal of being fresh on the scene and kind of different.”

That hasn’t stopped First Communion Afterparty from maintaining a presence, albeit a low-key one. The band still plays with all but one original member. Aaron James stepped in on bass for Rose.

The band aims to enjoy the nostalgia while doing right by Axell.

“Somebody took a big chance and put out our album,” Watkins said.

While First Communion Afterparty may have slowed down, Watkins and Barno claimed they would be willing to play shows if there was enough interest from fans.

Still, the focus of each member remains in their respective solo projects.

“It’s kind of like a big tree, and we’re all just branching off,” Watkins said.


What: First Communion Afterparty
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Where: Triple Rock, 629 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis
Cost: $7
Age: 18+


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