The Rake recently caught up with its friends, local band The Alarmists. Riding their increasing fame and recognition higher and higher, the guys are looking forward to their fast-approaching hometown show at the Varsity this Friday night. We spoke with Eric Lovold (guitar, lead vocals); Ryan McMillan (guitar); Tony Naim (bass guitar); Derek Jackson (drums); and Jorge Raasch (keyboards).
The Rake: Tell us a little about your upcoming show at the Varsity.
Jorge: We’ve had five weeks off since our last show. That is some major vacation time by Alarmists’ standards. In fact, it took our bass player leaving the country to make it happen (Tony was in Lebanon for two weeks in early August). So I’d say we’re all pretty excited to get back on stage, and the Varsity is one of our favorite venues in town. The bill is fantastic, too. I always enjoy Chris Koza and am really looking forward to seeing Blueheels and Wars of 1812 for the first time.
The Rake: What do you guys have planned after that?
Jorge: We are playing the Spark24 party at Orchestra Hall the following night (well, actually early Sunday morning) with some other locals. We play at 2 a.m. and Cloud Cult plays after us, followed by the rest of the lineup.
We’re also doing the River Rocks Festival at Harriet Island on September 20th. That should be cool, too – The Roots, Mike Doughty, Semisonic and LIVE are playing, as well as Heiruspecs. Heiruspecs is amazing live – everyone should see Heiruspecs.
We also have a couple trips to Milwaukee and Madison planned for the fall, but for the most part we’re trying to keep the schedule open. We’re starting our next record soon, so of course we’re really excited about that. We’ve been demoing songs the past few months, but the real deal should get going in October/November. Our hope is to release it next spring.
Derek: We’re going to tighten the screws. We are so very close, and so very happy with this new batch of songs.
The Rake: How does The Alarmists’ sound fit in with the rest of the Twin Cities music scene? Is it filling a particular void? Do you draw inspiration from any local bands?
Ryan: The Alarmists’ sound isn’t really the "indie" sound that most Twin Cities bands pursue. We are a pop rock band that is influenced by old shit. I don’t think we sound like any of the bands here, but we definitely fit in with a lot of bands.
Eric: I guess to me it seems that we are always trying to make music that we like, and play the kind of music that we think is important. Locally, I really like Solid Gold. Those guys are always up to something, and it’s always good. A new band doing cool stuff is Flin Flon Bombers, too. Catchy pop tunes.
Derek: Sound fits in…as the honest, driving, melodic, rock that our fathers were probably listening to when we were conceived. We put a lot of intensity and character into what we do musically, together.
Filling a void? The void where music should be well put together, accessible, and unique. We are one version of the local bands filling that void.
Inspiration? Though they are "no more," I always loved to see Hockey Night throw down. Two drummers playing tasty, open parts, and a lead guitar player just shredding classic rock stuff.
Tony: We are all big fans of the Replacements, so I guess that somehow manages to show up in our songwriting.
The Rake: What about each of your own personal tastes in music? I know Jorge and Eric thought the Tom Petty Milwaukee Summerfest show that we went to was possibly the greatest show ever. Care to talk about that or any others that stick out?
Jorge: I think all of The Alarmists really like Tom Petty. That show might have been my favorite concert of all time. The guy just killed it. Everyone in the band is fantastic, and it was the perfect way to cap off the night after playing at Summerfest for our first time. Note: MGD tastes much better in Milwaukee.
Derek: I saw Spoon play at the 400 Bar, all by myself, on their "Kill the Moonlight" tour. Standing in the 2nd row, dead center, just getting bombarded by Spoon. Seeing Brit Daniel sing and Jim Eno drum that close up is definitely a highlight. Also recently I’ve been fortunate enough to see a couple really great shows at the Triple Rock: Caribou in the spring and the Dodo’s this summer.
Eric: I’ve been really into Godspeed You Black Emperor and Kinski lately–instrumental noise rock. It would be fun to do a project like that.
Ryan: I am the oddball in the group. I love electronic based music– hip hop, drum and bass, trip hop, and house. But I also love a lot of rock–Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Bowie, the Shins. I have been listening to a lot of the Melvins’ "Houdini" lately. I am new to the Tom Petty love, but I do think he is fucking amazing.
The Rake: What about the most interesting Alarmists’ show while on the road? There was the accident with the van, right?
Ryan: Let me tell you about the accident — that shit sucked ass. My head and hand broke through a window. We had just played an amazing show at the Entry with Koza and we were all on cloud nine. The dude driving the van ran through a red light as we were all screaming, "RED LIGHT!" Low and behold our new drummer and I ended up in the emergency room for hours. He had a broken nose from hitting the seat in front of him and I had glass from the window stuck in my hand. That was scary shit.
Eric: We crashed pretty good…we were in the ER til 6 a.m.! Our new van is sweeter, though.
We also played a show at Concordia Moorhead this spring. There was a late April blizzard and I-94 closed while we were on the way. We decided to keep after it. Amazingly we didn’t slide off of the road, but it took us eight hours to get there, and it’s normally a four hour drive. We were literally going 15-20 miles an hour for maybe 70 miles. We got there and there was a gymnasium full of college kids. They had no idea who we were, but were rocking and dancing and having a good time. That was pretty cool; it made the drive worth it.
Tony: …Biggest blizzard ever known to mankind…
Derek: That crowd was just crazy–super energetic and responsive.
The Rake: Chicago Rock Press has compared you to Spinal Tap – not for the loudness of your music necessarily, but rather the frequent drummer changes. While yours haven’t been because of unexplainable deaths, like the Tap’s, you want to explain a bit?
Jorge: It’s funny you mention it, we actually got a louder drummer so that we would be able achieve Spinal Tap’s volume. If a formula for success ever existed, they embody it – which is why we tend to model almost everything we do after them.
The Rake: Any last words for your fans?
Ryan: The next record. It’s going to fucking rock. Fin.
The Alarmists, with Chris Koza, Blue Heels, and The Wars of 1812; Friday, Aug. 29th; 8 pm, Varsity Theater, 1308 4th St SE, Minneapolis