Get To Know: Gully Boys

Ahead of Gully Boys’ performance at First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2018 in the First Avenue Mainroom on Friday, January 4, we got to ask Kathy, Nadirah and Natalie, who make up the three-piece, a few questions. Read what they had to say below:

Sophie Stephens: You seem to have a busy end of fall/winter coming up with lots of shows on the calendar, what do you do to prepare for this?
Gully Boys: We practice twice a week! We dedicate one practice to writing new music and learning covers for practice and dedicate another practice to cleaning up our set! We are crazy busy boys outside of this band so those two practices really help us hone in on our sound and prep us for gigs.

SS: You define yourself as “three scrappy boys writing songs in a basement” how do you feel your band has developed since your basement era to where you are now? 
GB: We STILL practice in a basement but are less scrappy and more intentional. We’ve managed to figure out how to translate our basement tunes into venue bangers. 

SS: The album you released in August, Not So Brave, fuses together several genres. Which artists most heavily influence your themes and sound?
GB: The most prevalent genres that influences us are  Motown, R&B, and early 2000 pop-punk. 
Nat- No doubt baselines   
Kathy- Early Mariah Carey  
Nadi- Spencer Smith of Panic! at the Disco

SS: Where did the band name Gully Boys come from, and what’s the significance behind it?
GB: Kathy loved Fern Gully as a lil kid and we wanted to be like all the boy bands we idolized as teenagers so boom.  

Blog by Sophie Stephens (Marketing Intern)

Get To Know: Yam Haus

Ahead of Yam Haus’ performance at First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2018 in the First Avenue Mainroom on Friday, January 4, we got to ask Lars Pruitt (Vocals/Guitar), Seth Blum (Electric Guitar), Jake Felstow (Drums), and Zach Beinlich (Bass) a few questions. Read what they had to say below:


Kerry Gay: How did you meet and decide to first form your band? What’s the story behind your awesome name?
Yam Haus: Three of us (Zach, Seth, Lars) met in high school, and we met Jake through various gigs here in the Twin Cities. Our name originated from the house we were all living in together upon forming the band in August of 2017. We had naturally started calling it the Yam House, for multiple reasons. Soon we were trying to find an official name and someone in our camp threw that out as an option, and we sort of just went with it. Yam is an acronym which stands for “You Are Me". We decided to make this our band motto, reminding us to treat people how we’d like to be treated. That’s a simple enough concept when you’re a kid, but it tends to be forgotten as we grow older. We want to fight that, and hold up love in all that we do. 

KG: What bands most heavily influence your sound?
Yam Haus: That’s a tough question. There are MANY. I guess I’d say Coldplay, Maroon 5, and U2 stick out to me a bit on our first album. 

KG: Your artwork is incredibly unique, eye-catching, and fun (particularly your singles “Get Somewhere” and “Groovin”). Do you create the art yourselves? If so, where does the inspiration for your artwork come from?
Yam Haus: Thank you! Our album artwork is created in collaboration with talented friends of ours. People who we trust to help us bring the message of our music to life. The photography on “Get Somewhere” was shot in LA by our friend Michael Becker. That shot we felt right away captured the message of “Get Somewhere”. It shows us all jumping and looking up, striving for something we don’t really understand. The bright colors, the graffiti, all fit with what that song feels like to us. Our friend David Nanda did the editing and graphics for all of our singles. He is a long time high school friend of ours and has done most of our graphic design and editing work to date. He also did the photography for “Groovin’”, which was a totally candid shot taken on the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis. We jumped in ‘70s clothing and threw a spontaneous public dance party, and he grabbed that shot at peak dance euphoria. It perfectly captures what “Groovin’” is all about to us. 

KG: What particular theme or message are you hoping to convey to listeners on your most recent album Stargazer?
Yam Haus: Perspective. There are so many things in our personal life that can cripple us, but if we step back, zoom way out, and take a look at our lives in relation to this giant universe we are suspended in, it gets beautiful really quickly. In part, it’s an album about healing from what cripples you, and it’s also about exploring your place in the world.

KG: What’s the secret to maintaining your energetic stage presence at shows that keeps your crowds moving?
Yam Haus: I suppose we just don’t see any alternative that would be better. If we’re gonna play a show, we get into it. How could we not? We also want to feel like we’re apart of something with the crowd too, not just animals in a cage being observed or judged, but we’re experiencing something together. We don’t have time for anything else. It’s a privilege to be on stage, we love it, and we mean it. We believe in our music, and we love that we get the chance to perform it with other people in the same room. That’s the best feeling in the world. 

Blog by Kerry Gay (Marketing Intern)

Get to Know: Scrunchies

Ahead of Scrunchies’ performance at First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2018 in the First Avenue Mainroom on Friday, January 4, we got to ask Laura Larson (Kitten Forever), Bree Meyer (Double Grave) and Danielle Cusack (Bruise Violet, Tony Peachka) a few questions. Read what they had to say below:


Emily Csuy: This year you played your first show together as Scrunchies, debuted your album, released a music video, and embarked on a summer tour. Looking back on 2018, what are some of the biggest highlights?
Danielle Cusack: Honestly just announcing the band and seeing people’s reactions that we had a music video shot & a full ass album recorded already. The Palm show at the Entry was really fun as well. But the biggest highlight was for sure the Fresno date of our tour when it was a 5 band bill of all women/femmes and was one of the most validating nights of playing music I’ve ever had.
Bree Meyer: Our tour was probably the highlight of the year overall for me, but in general it was wild seeing how people supported what we were doing, sight unseen.
Laura Larson: I felt really empowered by this entire year and being so hands-on throughout the entire process of the video, the album, and the tour. Getting my copy of Stunner after we made it really sticks out for me, Landing #2 on Picked To Click was cool, guest hosting The Local Show was cool, playing Sweet JAP’s reunion show was very cool.

Emily: During your summer tour, you played fifteen nights in a row in different cities. What helped you reenergize and stay sane on the road?
Danielle: Honestly, podcasts & a magnesium tablet before bed. Tour exhausts me but I was lucky to be around people who I really admired & were able to keep me grounded during my meltdowns.
Bree: I’ve never toured out west before, and I get a lot of energy from traveling in new places with new friends (like huge cactii and redwoods). I tend to sneak away on walks alone when I can, and usually bring a craft. This time it was weaving!
Laura: I’m a nerd who likes to eat healthy on the road somaking sure I am getting my vegetables (or at least a daily multivitamin) helps me a lot. Also stick me in the ocean at least once and my batteries are charged. I’ve been on a million tours but this was the first with Scrunchies and I felt really energized and thrilled to be touring with friends that I got to know better and have a bunch of cool experiences with. We were met by so much generosity and kindness everywhere we went too so tour ennui was minimal. Also we brought a frisbee!

Emily: What was the creative process like for the “Wichita” music video?
Laura: We had a vision of creating an atmosphere of teenage girls discovering witchcraft in a time before the internet, using intuition and minimal resources to create their own magic. We wanted it to be visually very colorful, kind of weird (like Bree and Danielle drawing all over their own faces), and fun to watch. Gordon Byrd directed and we co-produced it together; our history of growing up playing punk shows in basements together really vibed with the DIY concept and the “live” scenes. There is a lot of references to water in “Wichita” and we had a lot of fun pouring food coloring and half-and-half into glasses of water and making rainbow bubbles in the bathroom sink with glow sticks.

Emily: What are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Danielle: Best New Bands!! And honestly a brand new year of unexpected possibilities tbh LOVE A FRESH START.
Bree: Agree with Danielle, new year new you, fresh start energy! I’m excited to see what the year has in store for us.
Laura: I’m excited to start writing new songs, and to see what the next stage of the band feels like. We are going to be playing Best New Bands as a three-piece and I’m excited to work with Bree and Danielle in that capacity. We’re going to play around with more dynamics, and maybe even write some songs that are longer than two minutes and twenty seconds.

Blog by Emily Csuy (Graphic Design Intern)


Ahead of Faith Boblett's performance at our showcase of the Best New Bands of 2018 in the First Avenue Mainroom on Friday, January 4, we got to ask Faith Boblett a few questions. Read what she had to say below:

Kerry Gay: How has your creative process changed since the start of your career? Have you found that this process has changed from your 2013 album Oil & Water to Enough (released this month)?
Faith Boblett: I used to give others’ opinions about my songs a lot more weight. That’s not to say there’s no room for collaboration - because I think that is wildly important. However, I’ve learned to trust myself more when I’m writing a song. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some incredibly talented musicians and songwriters since the very beginning of my musical endeavors, and hope to continue to foster those relationships. I think there’s just more confidence in my own abilities now.

KG: Are there any other artists (local or not) that you would be interested in collaborating with in the future?
FB: I would love to collaborate with Caitlyn Smith. And Har Mar Superstar. And Sheryl Crow. And Kacey Musgraves. And Margaret Glaspy. I also really enjoy singing harmonies and backup vocals, too - so if you know anybody? Send them my way!

KG: Do you have a personal favorite song of yours to perform?
FB: I love playing “Clay”, which is on the new album (Enough). It feels almost visceral singing some of those lyrics; and in my head, I’m demanding that the men in the room listen to what I’m saying.

KG: Do you have any advice for aspiring local artists/bands that want to follow in your footsteps?
FB: My advice? Hmm. This might sound so cliche. But, my advice is to always write songs that genuinely mean something to you. At the end of the day, if you believe in what you are creating, I think things will fall into place. Sometimes that takes 3 months, and sometimes it takes 10 years. And nobody really knows what they’re doing! Be patient, have fun, love what you do. The rest shouldn’t matter. 

KG: Are you a fan of any bands/artists that may surprise your listeners stylistically?
FB: A few albums on repeat for me the last year or two that may (or may not) surprise people:

  • Sweetener by Ariana Grande (Do not hate. Listen and listen again, because the layers & talent are there.)
  • Good Thing by Leon Bridges (absolutely no explanation needed!)
  • Ctrl by SZA (again. no explanation necessary.)

Blog by Kerry Gay (Marketing Intern)

First Avenue To Purchase Fitzgerald Theater in Saint Paul


First Avenue and Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) have entered into an agreement for First Avenue to purchase the Fitzgerald Theater from MPR. First Avenue, one of the longest running, independently owned clubs in the U.S., is continuing to extend its reach across city lines.

“Our goal is to bring together people with diverse interests and backgrounds, and part of that is expanding the First Avenue family to include other venues throughout the Twin Cities,” said Dayna Frank, First Avenue owner. “We’re excited about the opportunities for more events and performances in another iconic space in this community.”

MPR has owned and operated the historic theater since 1980. “After commissioning a Historic Structures Report several years ago, we focused on what’s best for this amazing facility, the community, and how we can best serve our audiences throughout Minnesota,” said Jon McTaggart, president and CEO, Minnesota Public Radio. “We were excited to find that First Avenue leaders share our vision to serve many more people. We’re pleased the theater will be in good hands with First Avenue.”

The transition from MPR to First Avenue allows MPR to broaden its reach in hosting events across the Twin Cities and the state while giving First Avenue fans another option on the east side of town. “Saint Paul is becoming a destination for many musicians, just as Minneapolis has been,” said Frank. “We’re committed to helping to grow Saint Paul’s music scene as well.”

“As we aim to serve more Minnesotans, one of the ways we are doing that is by going to where our audiences are,” McTaggart said. “We’ll still host plenty of events in Saint Paul. In fact, we anticipate that MPR will continue to use the Fitz. Now, we will have even more flexibility with our events and performances.”

First Avenue’s commitment to the community made it an ideal purchaser for this space. “Our roots in the community are far-reaching and I think MPR felt good about selling to another organization that is committed to the community, to local music, and to expanding perspectives in the entertainment space,” Frank said.

The deal is not finalized, and details are not yet available.

First Avenue owns and operates the 250-capacity 7th St Entry, the 350-capacity Turf Club, the 650- capacity Fine Line, 1550-capacity First Avenue Mainroom, and co-operates the 2400-capacity Palace Theatre. Additionally, First Avenue promotes concerts and events at numerous venues in Minnesota, including but not limited to, Amsterdam Bar & Hall, The Cedar Cultural Center, The Historic State, Orpheum, and Pantages Theatres in Minneapolis, as well as Surly Brewing Festival Field.

First Avenue is celebrated as one of the longest-running, independently owned and operated clubs in the United States. Its commitment to independence is led by the belief that unique, locally-owned live music rooms are imperative to the health of the community and economy. First Avenue is dedicated to promoting artistic expression in voices old and new, to provide a community by offering artists a stage and a mic, and fans a place to gather.

As the musical epicenter of the Twin Cities, First Avenue—and by extension, the venues it owns and operates—opens its doors to all of the thousands of music lovers who are First Avenue's past, present, and future.


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