Combining efforts in Japan while on a study-abroad program, Miniboone’s founding members inadvertently created a sort of prototype for the band it is today. Now, with its roster sprawled across two boroughs of New York City, the act has played SXSW and Bonnaroo (and a total of three Tennessee shows) back in 2011, the same year it began work on its recently released full-length debut. With the album in tow, Miniboone will soon make a return trip to Knoxville.
Named for Fermilab’s Booster Neutrino Experiment (MiniBooNE), the band’s initial concept was an homage to science.
“We originally thought the band might pose as scientists and sing about the chemical imbalances of love, but that fell by the wayside pretty quickly,” recalls Craig Barnes (guitar/keys/vocals).
“There’s no real philosophy,” Doug Schrashun (guiar/vocals) elaborates. “I tried to come up with one early on, and it was so difficult and everything I wrote sounded so awful that I figured it was best to just go with our intuition. As far as what that means musically, it usually involves digging into the idea that rock music and pop music are basically the same thing. We’ve always made it a priority to be first and foremost an energetic, entertaining live band. That hasn’t changed over the years at all, even as the band itself has changed quite a bit.”
That most contradictory of genre labels, “indie-pop,” may never be so well applied as to Miniboone. The melodies are intricate yet catchy, easily approachable but far from mundane. Within the span of the group’s catalog is a gamut of influences, with each song leaving no reliable assumption about the next. Within the first several tracks of the act’s self-titled September release, one may detect wafts of anything from Devo to The Little Ones to Weezer, and on and on. A likely source of this grab bag is Miniboone’s previous songwriting formula of individual song constructions in lieu of full-band collaboration from the start, a method the group will deviate from going forward.
“For the latest songs we’ve been working on, we’re mainly writing together as a group rather than individually, as we’ve done in the past,” says Barnes. “And we plan to record them live with the current lineup, as loud and raw as we can.”
In New York, making a name for yourself in music is no easy task. With an oversaturation of aspiring rock acts enabling short attention spans and thorough hipster snobbiness, bands like Miniboone ironically find bigger responses in smaller markets than the densely populated cities many flock to for exposure. Not that Miniboone is down on its hometown, but the band does seem eager to get back on the road.
“It’s always great to get out of New York,” admits Schrashun. “The city has its perks; there are endless chances to meet and play with a huge variety of cool musicians, and there are tons of places to play. But it’s also true that crowds in New York can tend to be jaded and difficult to impress. When great bands are almost a dime a dozen in New York, you can’t really blame people for having high standards, but it’s always nice to play for an appreciative crowd out of town.
“Knoxville has always treated us well, and we’re excited as hell to be coming back.”
Adds Barnes: “This will be our second time in Knoxville. Last time was awesome. People actually dance, they get drunk, and in our experience, they’re generous too — one guy even gave us enough money to pay for a hotel room that night.”
Monday night Miniboone plays Preservation Pub as part of the venue’s Mad Scientist Music Night. Also performing will be Bella Russia (Washington, D.C.) and Mobility Chief. The show starts at 10 p.m. and costs $3.
Somebody that you used to know: Former V-Roy John Paul Keith returns to Knoxville for a CD release show at The Well today, alongside Dixieghost. Music is slated for 10 p.m. following the Rocky Top Comedy Contest, and admission is $7.
Mis-fitting the bill: Thursday (Oct.24) Carleo Entertainment brings Misfits and The Attack to NV Nightclub. Rounding out the bill are local acts The Bad Dudes and La Basura Del Diablo.
The 6 p.m. show welcomes all ages. Advance tickets are available through www.carleoentertainment.com for $18 with a $5 surcharge applied for attendees under 21.