Happy PRE-RELEASE day!

Happy PRE-RELEASE day! Jumbo-Jet Whispers & Thunder-Lizard Serenades just dropped on bandcamp. Buy it now for $15 and get two tracks today and the rest when we release (digital only) on April 13th!


Things for Which 3 Minute Hero Is (and/or are) Thankful.

I hope you know us better than that. Just because your facebook feed is full of posts about this same topic, you don’t actually think that we would bow to peer pressure and share the things that we’re thankful for. Right? Plus, it would be the same things everybody is thankful for: family (yawn), friends (slow blink), and that the United States of America has the sweetest looking flag of all the countries — with the possible exception of Nepal (stay funky with your non-rectangular self!). Then you have to throw in health (if you’ve been healthy) and some other things which are so boring I’m just going to type gobbledygook instead: nvlk;fkj;lasckmvvmlkfl;kdkmv as;lfkjgl aslfkgj saflkj;lasfgjkl; riuoiepeiu.

Maybe we should just talk about the little things I’m thankful for. That couldn’t go south.

  1. We live in a time in which Jeff Lynne is still creating high-quality music.
  2. I have enough unread books stockpiled to last my entire life, yet I am still going to purchase many, many more books.
  3. We are never far from obtaining and consuming a Baker’s Square French silk pie.
  4. The instant gratification that accompanies newly-sharpened cutlery.
  5. It has been said many times before, but we live in the Golden Age of Television.
  6. I have a game on my phone called Smashy Car and I have unlocked seven “Legendary” cars, three of which earn me five times the normal amount of credits.
  7. My children all enjoy playing instruments and making music with other people, which, you know, is arguably one of the greatest joys of life. Nothing funny there. Pure earnestness. Sorry. It’s never too late to learn how to play an instrument. I started playing accordion a few years ago. I’m very bad at it, but it’s also important to realize that part of the joy of playing an instrument is that you look badass while playing it. Yes — even an accordion. Plus, if you quit your book club in order to play in a band, your alcohol consumption is likely to decrease [needs documentation]. With Christmas coming up you should ask your loved ones for an electric bass.
  8. No matter how broke you are, you can always afford a Mitsubishi Hi-Uni 3B drawing pencil, which is the Rolls Royce of pencils. If you get one, be sure to smell it right after you sharpen it. That is the smell of quality.
  9. High quality coffee prepared expertly with the perfect amount of half-&-half added to it. It also helps if it is in my favorite Salt Lake City Winter Olympics mug, which has a wide enough berth in the handle for me to get all four fingers through it. This is no small matter, as my fingers have the same circumference as the leading brand of Italian sausage.
  10. Always having plenty of warm hats around.
  11. A trusted doctor &/or mechanic.
  12. Knowing that ibuprofen takes care of just about anything.
  13. Target.
  14. If you’re a man, you will look good in a tuxedo no matter what.
  15. Having a wife who’s smarter than you.
  16. Nutella.
  17. Nutella and Old Dutch pretzel rods.
  18. Nutella and anything. Even a spoon.
  19. Fleece.
  20. Every month is Movember when you’re self-employed.
  21. The ability to forget things.
  22. Listening to Nina Simone sing “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” and, even if for only a minute or two, believing it. She’s that damn good. Stop reading this right now and go listen to it. It’s just her and a piano and if you’re not holding back a tear at the end of it, I will buy you can of WD-40 for your dead cyborg heart.
  23. “X-Files” in January.
  24. I own scaffolding.
  25. We should all be thankful that water is a universal solvent. Think about how confusing life would be if it wasn’t. See? Terrifying.
  26. We, as humans, see just as much color as we need to.
  27. The future of space exploration.
  28. Anesthesia.
  29. Greek yogurt everywhere!
  30. Aussie fries with ranch, cheese, and ketchup at the Minnesota State Fair.
  31. Baby animals (not birds with their unsettling blue skin-covered eyes though).
  32. Baby humans, but only because they all look like tiny little Winston Churchills.
  33. Cream cheese wontons.
  34. Quality beer that hasn’t been hopped to the point of being undrinkable.
  35. We’re almost done recording this epic triple album for you. We’re closing in on it. Twenty or twenty-one new songs all locally grown and hand-crafted by dedicated music artisans (us). Just two days ago, we were so far along that Jonathon was recording Al’s Champagne flutes to get the right clink for one of the last tracks (“Champagne Migraine”). When you’re recording glassware, you know that you’re almost done with tracking.

That should do it. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at 3 Minute Hero Industries. And if anybody in your family starts bringing up stupid political shit at your otherwise delightful family gathering, just do what I do: start the table on fire and make deafening car noises.

3 Minute Hero Announces 2015 Summer Starting Line-up.

While other bands wheeled and dealed to the point of frenzy leading up to Wednesday’s trade deadline, 3 Minute Hero calmly released their starting line-up, apparently confident that last year’s players (with the notable addition of first-round draft choice Matt “Salty McBastard” Hanzelka) will be able to propel them through the season and the play-offs.

“We’ve got a good group of guys — I think we’re going to go far this season. We just have to take it one game at a time,” said every box-of-hammers ever on ESPN. [Tangent: if we eliminated sports interviews and cow flatulence, global warming would just go away like a Tuesday morning hangover].

So here’s the line-up:

Dave Kittelson – 1B/bass/lead bass

Jay Kalk – SS/guitars/vox

Al “Ice” Berg – C/keys

Jonathon TeBeest – P/drums

J.R. Nelson – Goalie/2nd trombone/lead vox

Matt “Salty McBastard” Hanzelka – Punter/1st trombone

Bryce Blilie – Seeker/trumpet

Paul Gronert – Recreational Lumberjack/sax-a-ma-phone


I just double-checked the spelling of everybody’s name and got them all right. Don’t ever misspell a bandmate’s name. That is a punishable offense. I could fill pages with our archaic intra-band system of draconian justice, but I don’t think I can handle Paul running the cheese grater over the backs of my calves again for telling secrets. I’ve already said too much. Please send help.

Interview with 93x


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.

Trains: Variations on a Theme.

Do you know what’s fun? Besides having that dream where you’re fighting ponytail guy in the tippy tops of the bamboo forest in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”? Playing with Reel Big Fish. That was a lot of fun. That happened this past Tuesday at Mill City Nights in Minneapolis. Holy shit! Did you know that there are trains running right in the middle of Minneapolis? Trains! What is this? Trainsylvania? Atlanta? Anyhoo…Mill City Nights is located across the street (and, spoiler alert, train tracks) from Epic. We played Epic once and I was so sick that I exited stage right mid-song, threw up, returned and sang the rest of the song. If that is not the gleaming paragon of Midwestern work ethic, then I quit. Where was I? Trains! We were supposed to have jet cars or at the very least ghost chariots by now. Trains are so 1864. Do you know what else is so 1864? Eric Johnson. For those of you who get all of your 3 Minute Hero news solely through the website or hastily printed handbills, you may want to sit down: I have news of great import. First of all, everybody is OK. Second of all, after 19 years, I have attained the post of First Chair Trombone, so, suck it nerds. Thirdly, Eric Johnson has quit the band in order to work on his model railroad. It is, and I speak from experience, an amazing specimen. It’s an HO gauge layout that depicts a fictionalized Milwaukee of the mid-1950’s. It is beautiful and all of the surviving members of 3 Minute Hero wish him luck on this most noble of callings. Our parting request is that when he has finished this life’s masterwork, he will invite all of us to his inner sanctum. His hair, flecked with gray and curling out from beneath his engineer’s cap will speak of his years spent in solitude, hunched over boxcars and buildings, creating a universe of his own making. When he sweeps the curtain with his hand to reveal the decades of work, we, the remaining members of 3 Minute Hero, will say in a monotone unison, “We all thought you were crazy to quit the band in order to follow your dream of making an HO gauge replica of 1950’s Milwaukee, but clearly, you were right: this is amazing. This is perfect.” And having witnessed perfection, we will disappear in a puff of smoke that will at once seem too small, yet cause Eric to cough violently for days.

Good luck Eric. That was a lot of fun.

Toot. Toot.

Works in Progress #11: Okoboji Volcano [Parts 2 & 3]

What is the price of living in paradise? I’m not talking about dollars or rubles. I’m talking about the trade-offs. Some live in the shadow of volcanoes. Others live on active fault lines. Some of us even live in St. Paul. Regardless, Fate’s drunk ass invariably shows up at our door demanding that which we thought was ours and when she does, you best have your New Balances laced up, a full tank of gas, and a week’s worth of canned goods and bottled water because she is as relentless as she is capricious. This song, “Okoboji Volcano [Parts 2 & 3]” are about living in the shadow of the volcano and about how everything somehow comes together when you need it to. It is to be the first song of the second section of our forthcoming double-album titled “Jumbo Jet Whispers & Thunder Lizard Serenades: The Journey of 3 Minute Hero.”

You always knew / What was best.

I took care of today / You took care of the rest.

All our worries: so petty and small —

It’s so clear now after the fall,

But how can you know when she’s going to blow?

You always knew / What was best about me.

That’s why we’re here / under the coconut trees.

All our worries: so petty and small —

So clear now after the fall,

But how can you know when she’s going to blow?

Breeze blowing in off the ocean — all right.

Breeze blowing in from the sea — oh yeah.

Breeze blowing in through the valley and over the darkness of the water.

Breeze blowing in from the mountain — all right.

Breeze blowing in off the the mountain — oh yeah.

Hey man, that’s not a mountain.

I know that’s not a mountain.

We all know that’s not a mountain.

All right.


Little baby puff of smoke / Everything is okie-doke.

Grab a bag of avocados then we go home.

Chop an onion, squeeze a lime / Guacamole just in time

for beer, chips, and Apocalypse Now.

Good thing we kept the Vespa and not the goats.

Good thing you took that course on how to fly helicopters.

Bingo-bango: sugar in the gas tank.

Bingo-bango: failure can be so sweet.

Bingo-bango: Okoboji volcano.

Driving here, driving there / Driving with no underwear

Lava lava everywhere / That’s a bad poem.

Through the jungle / Through the trees,

Through the ancient idol’s knees.

Pretty, pretty, pretty please: let me go home.

Don’t stop the carnival but do not look back.

Good thing T.C. showed you how to fly his Island Hopper.

Good thing we built our shack up on high land

Upon the packed down sand

You think we’d understand, but you’d be wrong.


You always knew / What was best.

You took car of today. / I took care of the rest.

Our daily worries so petty and small —

It’s so clear now after the fall,

But how can you know when she’s going to blow?


All of this particular material is copyrighted ©2014 Jeff Nelson.



Thanks Fargo!

This past Saturday, we returned to play Fargo for the first time in a long time. How long? Let’s just say that if I had actually kept my vow to not trim my fingernails until I played music in Fargo again, this guy would be in second place.


Hot. We had a great time and it was ridiculous fun to see so many of you in the same place after so long. Thanks for making the trip out. Thanks to the good people at Dempsey’s/The Aquarium, Chris Hennen, Raul Gomez at the High Plains Reader, John Lamb of INFORUM, and the Blilies for the most heavenly brunch in the history of brunches. I ate a serving of cheesy potatoes and thought I saw the face of God, but it was just Paul.

Yours, as always,


Works in Progress #10: 800 LB Gorilla (Parts 1 & 2)

After singing through the bridge of this song a couple of times last night in practice, Jay asked just exactly what the hell this was about and I launched into an overly descriptive account of a dream I had when I was all of 15. I won’t get into details, but I had stayed up late watching “Planet of the Apes” and the movie’s parting imagery inspired my subconscious to dream lascivious dreams of an alarmingly come-hither, human-sized Statue of Liberty. This was a vivid memory from a turbulent age — an age when I came to realize that most of the things I loathed in other people I could conveniently find located squarely in my own thoughts and deeds. That’s what this song is about for me: trying to deal with other people’s shortcomings while becoming painfully aware of my own — hating somebody else’s behaviors while realizing that I was beginning to adopt those same behaviors because, well, they were effective. Stomping around like an 800 pound gorilla, for instance.

But yes, it’s also about how the Statue of Liberty is a woman. With needs.

I’ve said too much.


“Responsible. Just the sound of the word is old hat —

Crazy as a camper full of cats

Crackling with sound and furry

Pounding home that I should scurry.

I know the smell of fear

and smells just like gin and spaghetti.

Good God I’m more than ready

To say as he says and do as he does.

And I’d dearly love to be anywhere but here —

Just drive and drive, but never have to steer.

Run away. Far away.

You don’t know where I would fly:

Off the handle?

Out to the zoo?

Mr. Movies is showing me what I can do.


I stomp around, I stomp around, I stomp around.

Like an 800 pound gorilla.

I stomp around, I stomp around, I stomp around.

Like I own the town.

Like I’ll split the ground.

Like an 800 pound gorilla.


Sing song — King Kong — damn dirty apes.

Show me the shoreline; I’ll show you the shapes:

The copper crown of liberty’s shade,

The languid eyes, the serious gaze

Above the fabric dripping down like honey from above,

More than money do I love

That she is French, lives in New York,

Always wears sandals, and carries a torch.


I stomp around, I stomp around, I stomp around.

Like an 800 pound gorilla.

I stomp around, I stomp around, I stomp around.

Like I own the town.

Like I’ll split the ground.

Like an 800 pound gorilla.”


All of this particular material is copyrighted ©2013 Jeff Nelson.


From the dusty library archives of what is now Minnesota State University Moorhead – A review of Bingo

Oh sweet 16 years ago…

Advocate April 3 1997
The Advocate – Moorhead State University newspaper from April 3 1997