Minor Characters is a rock band in the truest sense. As lifelong Chicagoans, the men in Minor Characters carry with them that very American blend of wistful angst and ever striving hope. After their last record, the full length Voir Dire released in 2014, they collectively experienced more of the former. “Getting that out was such a stressful moment in all of our lives that I think the band kind of imploded and deflated because of it,” recounts Andrew Pelletier, whose sharpened tenor soars above the band’s thick layers of guitar. “We weren’t playing anymore and we decided to take a number of months off. In that interim, I did a little bit of traveling.”
That traveling took place mostly over 2016, during one of the most contentious periods of worldwide cultural upheaval in the last 100 years. As Shelby Pollard, lead guitarist for Minor Characters, points out, “There are so many threads in this record that definitely are very political and very current. How could they not be?” The result was a series of deeply personal travelogue vignettes, tempered with sardonic reflections on the band’s health. Songs like Kamakura, Memphis, and NOLA point on the surface to their geography, but underneath reveal a desire to escape the madness at home despite an inability to totally disconnect from Americanness. “The insanity of the current government would be…I wouldn’t call it a source of inspiration, but certainly a source of disillusionment turned into inspiration,” quips Andrew, adding on a more personal note, “There are many things in my life that I put off, one of them being travel, especially to Asia because I’ve always wanted to go to Asia, and then also being in a relationship I put off for many, many years.”
In taking this potent creative material to SHIRK Studios in their native Chicago, Andrew, Shelby, and co-conspirators Thomas Benko (drums), Joe Meland (piano/string arranging), and a series of other instrumentalists, deliberately afforded themselves as much time as the record itself demanded of them. Rather than booking a sprint of sessions to bang out all the songs at once, Andrew and Shelby allowed the songs to morph with every taped iteration, giving them each a distinct feeling of life and uniqueness where they might otherwise feel too uniform. “We’re doing string arrangements on this record, horn arrangements, there’s organ,” says Shelby with retrospective amazement. “There’s all of these components that, because we gave ourselves such unlimited amount of time to focus on, ‘Is this song ready?’ we were really able to figure out what each track needed individually and then it just so happens that it fits together.”
“To be honest, it feels like the start of a new band,” Andrew offers, showing the striving hope side of his Chicagoan nature. “It just feels like the start of my career, if that makes any sense. Like everything that I’ve done before this, even with this band, has been a demo for what is about to come.”
Minor Characters’ new album We Can’t Be Wrong will be released on April 6th of 2018, with the first single dropping Friday, January 19th.
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