The Minneapolis-based ska ensemble of 3 Minute Hero banded together in 1996 after several jam sessions in the dorms at Minnesota State Moorhead. Get to know 3 Minute Hero as told by lead singer/trombonist, Jeff Nelson.
What brought you all together to be 3 Minute Hero?
What brings together any group of people to be a band? Common love of writing and performing music. The promise of artistic fulfillment. The Scrooge McDuck- sized piles of gold resulting from said artistic fulfillment. Also, the Fargo- Moorhead area, where we started out, is large enough to pull in national acts of all sizes, but the pool of local bands to open for those acts is not huge (or wasn’t, when we were there), so you can be a band just starting out and find yourself opening for Fishbone, which happened to us. Instant gratification for one’s musical endeavours are rare but welcome.
How did you come up with your band name?
It’s the title of a song by The Selector.
How long have you been together performing or creating music?
We’ve had a few incarnations. Version 1.0 started in 1995. We toured hard and recorded three albums from 1995-2000. In 2000, we decided that five years of being on the same bus was enough and that we should take some time to be by ourselves and think about what we had done. We also, in no particular order, got married; had babies; joined other bands; saw the world; and, in one unfortunate turn, moved to Indiana. In 2007 we had our first reunion show. Overwhelmed by the response, we had one the following year. Then another one. Then we started playing new material. Finally, after guitar player, Jay Kalk, moved back from Hawaii and drummer Jonathon Tebeest moved back from New York, we had to admit that we were a real band again.
How would you describe the music you play; what generally do you most identify with & what bands do you most relate to musically?
We play horn rock. Extensive field studies show that it pairs remarkably well with drinking and dancing.
Can you collectively name two of your biggest musical influences? (Or individually)
With eight guys in the band, a list of our influences would read like a playlist of somebody who is, at worst, confused, and at best, musically promiscuous. Performance-wise, we’ve always aimed towards two polestars. James Brown’s live album “Love Peace Power: Live from the Olympia in Paris” in 1971 is the best live album of all-time. That’s an empirical fact. And Elvis’s “Aloha from Hawaii” live album, just for how the flow of a live show should go. And because he’s the King. Not skinny little Elvis; gigantic glorious Old Testament Godzilla Elvis.
What cover music do you play if any at all & are there any specific reason for that particular artist or song?
We don’t do too many covers. We’ve been partial to a band called the Scofflaws. We’ve also been known to bust into a “Lowrider/Final Countdown” medley. Don’t judge.
Who writes your music?
Our songwriting process is a lot like those rogue Russian scientists who sew multiple dog heads onto one body to see what happens. Jay and I have written most of the music. Our current project is one that I presented as a whole to the band and was lucky enough to get everybody’s support on, because it’s enormous. Here are the things are new album is: 1.) a triple-album, 2.) a concept album, 3.) a board game. I shit you not.
Have you been able to record? Where?
We’ve been lucky to record four albums, all in excellent local studios. The last album (“F Minus: Uncollected Works”) and the album we’re currently working on (“Jumbo-Jet Whispers & Thunder-Lizard Serenades”) were/are being recorded at producer/drummer Jonathon TeBeest’s studio in Madison, Wisconsin. I will go on record to say that, yes: it’s worth the drive to Madison. That wasn’t easy for me.
Have you been on tour – where?
We have seen cacti and cheesesteaks in their natural environments.
Where do you normally perform?
In town, we have been playing Bunker’s and Lee’s. Bunker’s is an exceptionally good sounding stage and room. And they let the band make their own cheeseburgers. Lee’s is an institution. Plus, they’ve got a goddamn puma on the wall. A Puma!
How do you plan to expand on the future of your band?
We are at a point where we only do things that we think are awesome. Is there a market for concept-triple-vinyl-board game albums? We honestly don’t give a shit, but we think it’s cool. We believe in it. Our fans – and we easily have the best fandom out there – think it’s fun, and they’ve been with us through all kinds of ridiculousness.
The band’s Facebook and website seem like you guys like to be pretty humorous; is that the same attitude you take when writing music and performing?
Yes. We live in a world where people shoot cartoonists and chop the heads off of innocent human beings. Until our wishes of attachable justice-seeking laser chainsaws are granted, humor is our best weapon against the forces of hatred and the absurdity of everyday life.
Why the unicorn? Your website seems more like a blog? Do you guys consider music as just an aspect of who you are asa band or are there more “serious” things you want people to identify you by?
The age old question: “Why the unicorn?” To which we respond: “Why not the unicorn?” Unicorns are the shit! Unicorns are narwhals with gumption. All it took was one narwhal to ask, “What if we grew legs, hooves, and a beautiful shimmering mane, and crawled out of this briny mess?” Nobody’s ever seen a lazy-ass narwhal majestically galloping up to a waterfall beneath the gentle glow of a full moon, rear up on its hind legs and whinny.
What most memorable experience you have had as a band?
When we discovered that we all share the same set of biological grandparents.
And finally, what is your spirit animal?
The mighty brown bear. I like salmon and berries. I like to sleep. I occasionally lash out and eat people who think I’m tame. Maybe a dragonfly though.