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 singer/guitarist/songwriter 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, pointing on the surface to geography, but underneath revealing a desire to escape the madness at home despite an inability to totally disconnect from Americanness. On April 6th the band will release the collection as We Can’t Be Wrong.
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.”
Today Glide is premiering the song “NOLA”, a song that references the place it is named after. The song starts off with just vocals and guitar as Pelletier seems to be building a feeling of tension. This is followed by an explosion of indie rock goodness and together the band conveys the magnitude of making an epic journey to the Crescent City. The song especially captures Pelletier’s dynamic vocal range and the ability of him and his band to craft crashing yet catchy soundscapes.
Andrew Pelletier shares the story behind the song:
“‘NOLA’ was written after I got back from New Orleans about a year after Katrina. I always kept the song in my back pocket and when we were making this record I approached the band with it. I was once a wide eyed college kid who went down to help rebuild the city after the hurricane. When I arrived, I was shocked to be met with such death and destruction, yet a city undyingly full of hope. I fell head over heels for the place, it’s people, the Eden of American music. When I got home from the trip I wanted to go back immediately, so I wrote a song about it. I actually did go back, like three times in the next two years. Nola was originally a Nick Drake-ian folk tune but my bandmates wanted it to be roaring and bombastic and lead off the album.”
Minor Characters release We Can’t Be Wrong on April 6th. For more info check out their Facebook page.