In August 2009, Daniel Groll arrived in Northfield, MN to start his job as a philosophy professor at Carleton College. He came with basic guitar skills and a few songs from his graduate student days in Chicago. Three weeks into the job, he drove to northern Wisconsin with his new colleague Jason Decker. During the drive, Jason and Daniel took turns playing music they love on the stereo. Two things struck Daniel at the time: the substantial overlap in their tastes and the fact that he could boss Jason around. Armed with these insights, Daniel was determined to start a band. Performing as a duo, The Counterfactuals built up a repertoire of original music with Daniel playing rhythm guitar and singing while pounding out beats on a bass drum and hi-hat and Jason playing lead guitar. That got old.
In 2010, Mike Fuerstein arrived from New York City to start his job at a philosophy professor at St Olaf College. Daniel and Mike had actually met the year before while on the academic job market (they were both competing for a job they didn't get). During that brief interaction they learned that in addition to their interest in philosophy, they shared a love of jazz (Daniel has a BMus in jazz performance on drums from McGill University. Mike has a BMus in jazz performance on the saxophone from the New England Conservatory). When Daniel got wind that Mike was coming to town, he invited him to join the band...on drums...which Mike had never played before. A year later, Andy Flory arrived in Northfield to take up his job as a music professor at Carleton College. Daniel cornered Andy during an ice cream fueled melee at the end of children's parade and convinced him to join the band on bass.
A year later, The Counterfactuals released their first record Minimally Decent People, which established them as a significant new voice on the Minnesota music scene. Drawing favorable comparisons to melody-driven storytellers like The Shins, the album garnered “must-hear music” accolades from local press, airplay on indie rock tastemaker 89.3 The Current, and a top-five finalist spot for “Best New Band” in the 2014 City Pages Readers Poll. 2015 saw the group ramping up their live act, sharing the bill with groups like Here We Go Magic and Caroline Smith, and earning a spot at the annual Minnesota Music Summit alongside Chastity Brown and Fathom Lane.
In June 2016, the band will release its second, self-titled album, which reflects the maturation of the band’s distinctive sound achieved through hundreds of hours of DIY experimentation. Recorded in the intimate spaces of their daily lives in Northfield -- a decaying band room, a record-lined office, a family living room, an echoing stairwell -- the album trades some of the overt Americana in Minimally Decent People for guitars drenched with delay, bold synthesizer lines, and more assertive drums and bass.
Yet the music also retains the earthy, acoustic dimension of the first album with saxophone, clarinet, piano, and organ layered variously through the tracks. Frontman Daniel Groll’s soaring vocals and honest songwriting remain the band’s emotional core, speaking to themes that matter, from aging, to love, regret, the surveillance state, and even the apocalypse. The end is nigh!