3 Days Left to Kickstart The Suburbs' New Album July 22 2013, 0 Comments

Friends, we have raised over $54,000! Only $11,000 left to reach our goal. Help us push it past the finish line! 89.3 The Current has put our first single "Turn The Radio On" into it's rotation and fans in the Twin Cities are embracing it. Listen to it here.

 If you've been planning on pitching in, wait no more. Do it NOW

And please help SPREAD THE WORD. Post on FacebookTweet, send snail-mail, scream out your window. With your help we can cover the many expenses that come with producing and publishing an album - and YOU can get an advance copy along with 2 Kickstarter backer exclusive Bonus Tracks, exclusive swag, and other great prize packages.

With Gracious Thanks,

— Chan, Beej, Hugo, the Steves, the "Shower of Flowers" Horns, Buzzwell, And... the Entire Suburbs Family!

The Suburbs – Si Sauvage by Arthur Phillips July 12 2013, 9 Comments

I am now going to tell you what I have been telling people relentlessly since I left Minneapolis for college in 1986: listen to The Suburbs. They’re the best band you’ve never heard of. 

It was true in 1986. It’s still true. Still true that they are the best, and still true—to my decades-old frustration and fury—that you, non-Minnesotan, have still not heard of them. 

So I could just say, put on Si Sauvage, and you’ll hear what I’m talking about. Si Sauvage, their fifth full studio album, and their first in a mere 27 years: ten songs of pop, rock, dance, funk, punk, and something indefinably unique, identifiably Suburbs no matter the superficial genre. You’ll hear it in the cruel wit of “Si Sauvage,” in the weirdly thrilling esoteric anthem “This Monkey,” in the current of melancholy flowing under the pop of “Turn the Radio On,” in the wail and broken moan of “What’s It Like out There?” 

Since their first EP in 1978 (the vinyl of which was, of course, bright red), The Suburbs have toyed with genres and forms, have pureed their influences and smashed their own personalities together, and consistently produced music that could only conceivably be their own. What happens if you cross funk and cowboy laments? Punk and bar-room piano? Punk and Dada? Dance music and creepy monologues about summer camp? The Suburbs. 

The Suburbs sound like the band that used to open, appropriately, for The Talking Heads, REM, and the B-52’s. But also for Blondie. And also, equally appropriately, for Iggy Pop, come to think of it. Because they also sound like a band whose members were introduced in 1977 by the Suicide Commandos’ Chris Osgood, at that time “literally the only punk in Minneapolis.” 

And, here, again, is the problem I’ve been running into since 1986. I want you to hear it all, and all at once, not to conclude anything about them until you know how much there is of them. I want to get it just right for you, make sure I have read you correctly before I tell you where to start, your customized introduction to the best band you’ve never heard of. Are you the sort of person who’s going to fall first for the catchy pop-rock? Then listen to “Born Under a Good Sign.” Wait though, wait. Maybe it’s the humor that will get you. So listen to “Dumb Ass Kids,” or “Si Sauvage” and the guy trying to compliment her record collection. But wait, maybe it’s—

Look, honestly, this is what it’s like to be a Suburbs fan. You grow up in Minneapolis in the 70s or 80s, when Minneapolis is suddenly the center of the musical universe, before Seattle, before Athens, and this musical renaissance is your birthright. The sonic produce of the polite Twin Cities from, say, 1977 to 1986 is astonishing. My sister recalls that the entertainment at her prom was Prince. The kids playing down in the warehouse basement, charging you a buck for beer, might have been The Replacements or Husker Du, Soul Asylum, The Suicide Commandos, The Jayhawks, The Hipsterz, or The Suburbs. 

If you’re from here, you know that The Suburbs are obviously on the list of “Most Influential Minnesota Musicians of All Time.” You know that singer-songwriter-keyboardist Chan Poling was in Rake Magazine’s top 10 Minnesota Rockers alongside Prince, Bob Dylan, and Paul Westerberg. Every Minneapolis new-born and old-age pensioner knows The Suburbs’ most famous tune, 1983’s “Love Is the Law,” an unforgettable dance-rock confection—catchy horns, popping guitar lines, a strain of sadness just below the bouncing surface, and Chan Poling’s unmistakable baritone croon. (And it was no surprise this year when the song became the anthem for Minnesota’s marriage equality campaign.) You know all this like you know it’s cold outside. 

But then you leave Minneapolis, leave the nights at the legendary First Avenue or the Longhorn, leave the circles where everyone knows every Suburbs song, where growing up meant associating that music to the most important moments of your life, and you find, to your astonishment, that outside the Midwest, people seem not to have heard of them. “You mean The Replacements?” they say. “No. I don’t. Listen to this.” And you play them Love Is the Law (1983). You play them Credit in Heaven (1981). You play them In Combo, a punk-blues-rock album culminating in a love song to cows. You wait until they get it. And they always got it, but for different reasons: some for the punk, some for the dance, some for the jokes, some for Chan’s crooning, some for Beej’s screaming, some for the haunting piano lines, some for Bruce Allen’s fingerprint guitar sound, some for the lust and some for the heartbreaking, indescribable ballads. 

And that is precisely why you have never heard of The Suburbs: you can’t describe them for the one thing they do well. They don’t have a single persona, they have a personality. Or, really, several personalities coming together to make music they couldn’t possibly make alone. 

In 1986, after ten years, after records with Mercury and A&M and Minneapolis’s iconic Twin/Tone, after amassing fans like Springsteen and, yes, the Replacements, after, peculiarly enough, playing on a softball team with The Human League, after marriages and kids and loss, the Suburbs called it quits—immortals in Minnesota, evergreen throughout the Midwest, but known and loved elsewhere only by the super-hip (and us émigrés). 

And then, after death claimed guitarist Bruce Allen far too young, three of the band’s surviving founders—Chan Poling, guitarist-singer Beej Chaney, and drummer Hugo Klaers—looked out the window and found that their rabid audience had never left. And now, 27 years later, they’re different, older, wiser men, and the music is great, again, for all the old reasons and several new ones. 

For Si Sauvage, Poling, Chaney, and Klaers needed to fill the huge space left by the late Bruce Allen, and they turned to guitarist Steve Brantseg, a national figure since the late 70s, including gigs with Robyn Hitchcock, ex-Replacement Tommy Stinson, and the Hillbilly Voodoo Dolls. For bass, Steve Price, a founding member of Rex Daisy, takes over from the retired Michael Halliday. The Suburbs sound is rounded out by the husband-wife sax section Max Ray and Rochelle Becker, and trumpeter Steven Kung. 

And, for those of us who were worried, that Suburbs sound—older, wiser, but still infectious—is upfront on Si Sauvage. “Born Under a Good Sign” and “Turn the Radio On” are undoubtedly by the same guys who made First Avenue shake to “Love Is the Law” and “Rattle My Bones.” But there’s something more there, too. Those decades didn’t pass without cost. A love song by a man in his 50s is a very different beast than one by the same man in his 20s, and “Turn the Radio On” sounds unmistakably like a pop love song to a woman who isn’t there anymore. 

So now the burning question is: where will the Suburbs now find the ideal, eclectic, witty, tasteful, high-energy and high-intelligence (non-Minnesotan) listeners who want punk speed married to melodic romance, booze-addled nostalgic heartbreak, pop, rock, dance, thrashing noise and complex harmony, naked lust, and deadpan agricultural humor? That question stymied at least two big labels who thought the Suburbs would make them piles, but I’m hoping, and betting, that the 21st century can do better. 

After Si Sauvage gets her hooks in you, you’re going to have a lot of listening ahead of you, 86 other songs in the catalogue by my iPod’s count, and you’re going to enjoy the parallels and the discoveries. If I know you, I’d recommend you first check out… or, no, start with…. or, better yet, you should try… 

Arthur Phillips, author of Prague, The Tragedy of Arthur, and other novels, is a Suburbs fan.

Arthur Phillips' website

The Great Fans of The Suburbs: Keith Morioka July 11 2013, 3 Comments

Keith Morioka has been an avid Suburbs follower since he first heard the song Love is the Law at a YMCA dance when he was 16. His passion for the band has taken him from Hugo, Minnesota, where he first witnessed the electric atmosphere of a Suburbs concert, to Costa Mesa, California, where Keith found an official cassette of Love is the Law after long searching for one. “I felt like I found the Holy Grail that day.”

It is the extraordinary connection between the band and the fans that has made The Suburbs a staple in the hearts of so many music lovers, young and old. Keith proudly states, “The fans are passionate about the band and the band is passionate about the fans.” One of Keith’s favorite memories was when he attended the sold-out 1993 reunion show. Beej was stringing the guitar to its maximum decibel level before turning around on the edge of the stage and falling back into the crowd. “We sent Beej crowd-surfing. That’s the way The Suburbs do things." 

Even through the twenty-seven year absence of a Suburbs album, Keith has carried hundreds of conversations with fellow Suburbs supporters, trying to one-up his friends on the best concerts and stories each individual shared with the 80s rock powerhouse. Heck, before his wedding the 1984 tune Love is the Law was played.

When the news appeared on his Facebook feed that The Suburbs were preparing to release a new album, the thrill and emotion that ran through Keith’s blood could not be described. He immediately contributed to the Kickstarter campaign and started to encourage his friends to do the same. “I so want this album to happen. Let’s get this thing done!”

Well Keith, it’s time to loosen up those vocal cords and lace up your party shoes because the party rocks on!

Keith with his collection of The Suburbs albums

Ticket Stubs from various Suburbs concerts 


A collage of The Suburbs

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WE WANT TO KEEP ON ROCKING! Please help fund The Suburb's first new album in 27 years, Si Sauvage. Learn more about the project and listen to our new song "Turn the Radio On" at our Kickstarter page!



Announcing Si Sauvage, The Suburbs First New Album in Nearly Three Decades - Due Out Aug 27, 2013 July 10 2013, 1 Comment

>> UPDATE August 27, 2013: Now available for purchase in our music store!

Cover art by Kii Arens

People who have heard advance mixes, say it sounds like a culmination of the entire history of the Suburbs, and thoroughly contemporary at the same time. It's surprisingly upbeat, with plenty of dance grooves, yet also contains the beauty of older songs like "Girlfriend" and "Spring Came."

It's mature AND fun, and it's obvious that the Suburbs audience has grown along with the band. Crowds are already cheering and singing along at recent shows to new songs like "Turn The Radio On." We're streaming it below so you can decide for yourself.

Join Our Kickstarter Campaign and Help Fund This New Album

We need your support to make this a reality. We're raising funds to self produce and publish this album. So tell your family, tell your friends, tell your cows. Share this link, post to Facebook, Tweet, send snail-mail, scream out the window. We are thiiis close to returning, we just need all your incredible help to make it reality!

Calling All Rockers!!

Help fund The Suburb's first new album in nearly three decades, Si Sauvage! Learn more about the project and listen to the first song "Turn The Radio On" at #kickstartmebaby #thesuburbs



Support our Kickstarter! June 28 2013, 0 Comments

Join us as we bring out a BRAND NEW Suburbs record.

10 new remarkable studio songs (and a couple bonus tracks for Kickstarter supporters).

Suburbs Fans are the best. They've really taken a "pride in ownership" of this unique Minneapolis band. They've gotten behind the band's incredible "Love Is The Law" campaign for marriage equality, they've packed the clubs and theaters, shared the songs, worn the band's indelible logo, and turned-on friends and family to The Suburbs nutty videos and Chan and Bruce and Beej's rocking, quirky, and lovely songs.

What better way for the band to raise the budget for the recording and promoting of their first new album in 27 years than to come directly to this great group of supporters who have grown and celebrated with them?

People who have heard advance mixes of some of the new stuff say it sounds like a culmination of the entire history of the Suburbs, and thoroughly contemporary at the same time. You'll hear the same energy in Hugo's drumming, the same gnarled and oddly sexy voices of Beej and Chan mining similar offbeat and humorous lyrical territory, yet tinged with a new depth and maturity lacking in the earlier recordings. (Life changes you, after all!) It's surprisingly upbeat, with plenty of dance grooves, yet also contains the beauty of older songs like "Girlfriend" and "Spring Came".

So why Kickstarter?

By now we've all heard the various sides in the battle for your entertainment dollar. We all pretty much understand the old music business model has changed, yes, but not the spirit or the intention of the makers or the fans. We keep making and listening to music.

The good news is that places like Kickstarter, where the music lover directly transacts with the artist, not only allows the artist the ability to afford to make his or her music the way they want, it inherently does away with a middle man, reducing waste and delivering good product at a cheaper rate, AND has the multiple benefit of actually adding value. If you haven't noticed yet, you get more stuff with your music on Kickstarter! T-shirts! House concerts! Signed posters and swag!

With your pre-orders and pledges we can pay for our own promotion, advertising, videos, marketing and publicity agents, touring costs, etc., not to mention the very best recording, mastering and manufacturing talent and facilities so the new songs sound as awesome as they can be.

Here's what we'd like you to do:

  1. Visit our Kickstarter page and watch the video. We made it just for you.
  2. Pick a prize level and donate. The skies the limit! Isn't this exciting?
  3. Tell your friends. The more the merrier!

Thank you!

Please Support Our Kickstarter