Quick Q+A: Cyn Collins + Complicated Fun

Complicated Fun

Of all the histories of not-that-long-ago local music, we’re maybe most excited for Cyn Collins‘ Complicated Fun: The Birth of Minneapolis Punk And Indie Rock, 1974-1984 thanks to both its subject matter near and dear to our hearts. Quotes like this one from award winning author Marlon James are also an easy sell: “Complicated Fun is a great rock book that works the same way as a great rock song. Find the right voices, lead with a riff, spit some truth, then watch everything explode. The result? Punk messing with punk, and birthing indie rock.” Count us in. 

And since you can’t have a book release on local punk and indie rock without the punk and indie rock, Collins will be joined on Friday at the Hook & Ladder by the Flamingo/Flamin’ Oh’sCurtiss A and the Dark Click, and others firebrands from that era.

We have a debate raging in our office about the context for this book. Some say you’re making a great case for the MPLS + STPL punk and indie rock as a wave of Post-Boomerism (without the Boomers?), but others say it’s the glory days of the Gen Xers (but somehow too early?). Which is it?

I’d say the context is a little of both, yet more the former—a wave of post-boomers (without the boomers) as most of the foundational musicians and fans were in their late teens, early 20s when they were performing at/going to the Longhorn starting in 1977. They were rejecting mainstream music and culture and generating their own new revolutionary music scene, which would inspire the Generation X to attend shows and form their own bands.

How long have you been developing this book? Is it a natural extension of your deep connection to the local music scene?  

I began developing this book about 6 years ago when I produced a KFAI/Ampers radio documentary on this subject. The book idea originated before then, and from that research and those interviews. I devoted most of my  time researching and writing it since The Minnesota Historical Society Press accepted my proposal in Spring of 2015. Yes, indeed it is a natural extension of my deep connection to the local music scene! I’m very inspired to share musicians stories with audiences.

Were the bars back at this time just cooler than our bars now? They sound like it.

Some of the interviewees note the bars then were cooler than our bars now. They note things like it was a small number of the same people (couple hundred) who went to the Longhorn every night, you’d see your friends there, who were also outside of the norm. There was a camaraderie, and they were there for the music, too. 

We love the book readings matched up with shows, like Friday’s set at Hook & Ladder with Curtiss A & Dark Click and Flamingo/Flamin’ Oh’s and the past reading at Electric Fetus with Kevin Cole and Flamingo. How much of you doing the book was for the release shows?

I’d say doing the book for the release shows, was part of it, hoping to celebrate the great artists who shared stories, many whom are still performing to this day and releasing new records this spring and summer, such as the Suicide Commandos and the Suburbs. I enjoy organizing these shows in relation to the book and possibly increasing interest and awareness of the foundation of our great music scene and these fantastic artists who deserve more recognition for their music.

How underrated is KFAI? We listen to it all the time.

We will be 40 years old next year! We have a large number of devoted member listeners and continue to reach new listeners, who love us and support us by becoming members as well! People who appreciate a vast range of great music in all genres curated by knowledgeable DJ’s listen to us. People who haven’t, are missing lots of  cool music and guests you would rarely, if ever, hear anywhere else. You can hear us streaming live at or 90.3 FM Mpls/106.7 FM St. Paul.

Burger Hunter: Culver’s


Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. He gets fan mail from our readers and from restaurants! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

All across the Midwest, there’s a sneaky great burger that is consistently done right and worthy of more praises. This hunt is all about that urge to crush a burger, like okay NOW! Head to your local Culver’s and you’ll find a menu that’s shockingly long with strong choices like the pork tendy or even walleye (when in season). But ignore all that and order the Double ButterBurger with Cheese. The meat is fresh—never frozen—Midwest beef that’s seared crisp on a flattop with butter. No pre-made nightmares, everything is cooked to order. Now the flavor of the meat is really nice. The crispy outer is life and the juicy inner is goals. Topped with a heavy American from Wisconsin. Each bite is meat cheese blasts of glory. The bun is butter grilled and okay. Do toppings as you please but I went naked for this ride; bun, meat, cheese. Culver’s and you yourself should be proud of this burger. The convenience factor is hundo p and that don’t take away nathen. Fries are crinkle cut and the root beer is fabulous. Drive-through or dine-in and one thing is for certain you’ll be pretty far from basic. Pro tip: The Culver’s in St. Anthony (Silver Lake Rd) has a full-on old timers bluegrass jam every Saturday from 1:30 PM-4 PM. Probably the coolest thing you’ll ever see in life.

Scorecard:   Flavor: 8.4   Presentation: 5   Originality: 6

Culver’s, 4004 Silver Lake Rd, St. Anthony;

Quick Q&A: Corey Palmer + Heartache


Minnesota-based singer/songwriter/producer Corey Palmer, who local music fans know from his days fronting These Modern Socks and Daykit, has had a busy few years. Along with taking a break from songwriting to focus on his new family, he was also involved in a serious car accident in 2014 and has on-going battles with depression. But in spite of, or maybe thanks to, the amount of life he’s dealt with recently, Palmer is back to music in a big way—he’s releasing a new single “Heartache” that’s a little longer than an average track at an audacious 24-minutes. That’s like two EPs!

We’ve been spending a lot of the week listening to the poppy, hook-filled, well polished monster track, and it has us fired up for Palmer’s live debut of the single with a notable backing band and Peter Wolf Crier as openers at Icehouse on Saturday. Before that, though, we sent him some Quick Questions to get some more background.

Secrets of the City: What’s had a bigger impact on your music, your near-fatal car crash, battling depression, or family life?

Corey Palmer: I would say my family has had the biggest and most positive impact, hands down. The car crash was rough, but it immediately opened my eyes up to how short life can be, and kind of re-taught me to seize the moment. It was a brutal way to come across that lesson, but was definitely much needed. Depression has been a truly awful on-again, off-again relationship for a very long time for me. So it has always inevitably played a part in my music, but more recently it was so all-consuming that I couldn’t help but acknowledge it in a more obvious way.

We love your 24-min track “Heartache”, it’s great. Were you at all surprised at how up-beat and low key funky it turned out, given your recent circumstances, or was that the goal?

I’ve had friends tell me over the years that I write “fun sad” music. I’m that guy at the party who will spin an Isley Bros jam like “The Heat is On,” then follow it up with something like “One More Try” by George Michael, and expect everybody to feel it on the same level. I’ve always thought sad music and funky music both have very sincere and important purposes, and when you can get them to dance together in the same song, it can be pretty magical and cathartic stuff.

What’s it like going back and editing a 24-min track? Do you have to break it up into sections or chapters or something?

Oof. I recorded ‘Heartache’ all within the same, giant Pro Tools session. I thought about breaking it up after I finished writing it, but I was afraid I’d lose sight of the overall vibe. Not to mention I wanted to be able to quickly reference other spots in the song without losing focus. Anyway, editing wasn’t so bad because I tried to do a lot of complete takes. But mixing was really tricky because so many individual tracks changed purpose throughout the song. For example, one track would start as a Rhodes piano, but 12 minutes into the song it needed to be a backup vocal. So I had to automate things like volume and stereo panning a little more than I typically do. The live drum tracks I played took up quite a bit of time—mainly because I wanted very distinct changes in the drum sounds throughout the song, which meant recording those in sections and using a different room and mic approach each time.

In hindsight, I have no idea where the energy came from—I was such a sad mess throughout the whole process, but I was certainly getting some fun out of the engineering/performance side of it.

All of your tracks have a fantastic and consistent production on them—any closely held recording/engineering tricks our musician readers/editors should know about?

Thanks! No obvious secret tricks that come to mind. Maybe just “keep the song intact.” Sometimes it’s really easy for me to tweak away and add layers upon layers of textures simply because a computer makes it ridiculously easy. But I try to remember that the best songs can be stripped down to a voice and an instrument, and still really move listeners. I’m definitely guilty of being heavy-handed—hopefully less and less the older I get—but I sincerely try to make everything I do IMPROVE the song. I’ve always thought the Mute button is just as useful as the Record button in that way.

Your release show at Icehouse on Saturday (with Peter Wolf Crier!) really does feature an who’s who of MPLS + STPL musicians helping you out, how did you get folks like Jeff Marcovis and Scott McVeigh on board? Is it show full of friends or did you just grab the best hired guns out there?

I’m very lucky in that my band is comprised of 6 of my honest-to-god best friends. I’ve known and loved them all for many years now. I met Nick Tveitbakk way back when he helped record Daykit at Seedy Underbelly, Adrian Suarez and Park Evans were in These Modern Socks with me for quite a few years, while Scott, Jeff, and Katie Marshall were all great college friends of mine that I had always threatened to make music with. I can’t tell you how fortunate I feel to have such talented people that think I’m not only cool enough to hang out with them, but also plug in instruments and make noise with.

What’s next? Do you have touring aspirations or just more regular music here? Is this the beginning of a full on rock opera?

Ha! Honestly, a rock opera is probably not far off. I love writing with broad themes in mind. In fact, the second These Modern Socks album we did was 10 songs about a space romance(!) and its demise. I’m currently writing some more straight-forward, singer-songwriter stuff and toying with the idea of tracking it live to tape down at Pachyderm Studios. Nick manages that place and it’s really just a phenomenal place to work. Other than that, we’re playing a bit around Minneapolis this summer, and touring is always on the table if and when schedules align. In the meantime, I’m just loving the daily grind with my family and looking forward to the next little creative sparks that life has in store for me.

Saturday, 11 PM. $8 advance, $10 door. Icehouse, 2528 Nicollet Ave S, MPLS;

Burger Hunter: St. Paul Grill

St Paul Grill

Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. He gets fan mail from our readers and from restaurants! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

Once in a great while you just require a man with a top hat to open the door for you. You guessed it! This hunt happens at the St. Paul Grill, conveniently located on ground level of the historic St. Paul Hotel. Upscale hunting is so hot right now. “You there, grab me some more bread. Post haste.” Get bossy and dial in cause this place is calm. The Bacon Cheeseburger is now on trial. Starting with the bun, it’s a potato roll all floured up and super airy. Way good. Grilled. Really fresh. The meat is black angus hundo p and lightly char grilled. Flat out a summer burger. You can taste it right away. It’s got a mad garden going on, too. All fresh ah. See I do listen to reader comments! Two large tomato slices lead the charge. So delicious. A crispy piece of super green lettuce that you know was cleaned twice and inspected for color consistency. Red onion and a pickle complete the salad. The burger is smothered in cheddar and y’know it’s a winner when you get that gooey pull on the first bite. That combo of cheddar and juicy flame grilled beef is an OTP bestest. IKEA effect hard brah. FR. That’s why we all love it. The thick-cut bacon is the flavor boost on this clean garden town. It’s flying. Crunchy and almost worth just a side order of it. Now the burger might not be your first choice on a menu this strong but it also will not disappoint! Pro tip: Order a gallon of the Cream of Minnesota Wild Rice Soup (best ever).

Scorecard:   Flavor: 8.4   Presentation: 9   Originality: 7

St. Paul Grill, 350 Market Street, STPL;

Twincy Cheat Sheet: Pretty Nerdy

treehouse records

It’s almost impossible to keep up with the arts and the culture and the entertainment and food and drink and the people and the places here in MPLS + STPL, so we’ve put together this list of stuff that we’re using as talking points this week and sharing them with you to pretend like they’re you’re own.

Who: Al Franken, Giant of the Senate

Remember when Franken’s election went into OT with a recount because the margin was so thing? Since then, Al’s approval numbers are through the roof, he’s taking on the Trump administration, and he’s also quickly becoming a satirically self-described Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, the title of his new book that he’ll be discussing with MPR’s Gary Eichten presented by Magers & Quinn at the Uptown Church on June 3rd. We’re excited for Franken’s own account of his tenure, since all the recent profiles on him have basically been in the same “he was on SNL and there’s comedy in the Senate” vein.

Where: Treehouse Records

HUGE announcement over the weekend, the staple of the record show scene in Uptown will close at the end of this year. They also supposedly hosted their final in-store performance with an acoustic set from the Suicide Commandos over the weekend, which you can watch on their Facebook Page. We were sort of wondering what was going on with their Record Store Day activities, which seemed a little dialed down this year. Bummer.

What: Midwest Comic Con

Did you miss out on Wizard World this past weekend? Make up for it at MSP Comic Con at the State Fair Grounds in two weeks. We’re not suggesting you give Dan Jurgens, Doug Mahnke, and Benjamin Percyas a hard time about DC’s ridiculous Rebirth, but you’ll know what we’ll be doing along with meeting some of the other artists and authors.

When: Tim & Eric 10th Anniversary Tour

Are you in your late 30s to early 40s and watched a lot of wacky alternative comedy in the 90s and 00s? Heads up: Tim & Eric of Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job! will be stopping by the State Theater on July 26th for their 10th Anniversary tour.

Why: Adult Proms, So Hot Right Now™!

Speaking of the ’90s and ’00s—that’s pretty much all the time nowadays—another heads up that one of the big ones, Forever Young Prom at First Avenue, still has some tickets available, but will likely be sold out before you and your date show up to re-do your big dance. It joins other fun proms like Under the Sea at Bauhaus and Goth Prom in some of the most attended parties in Twincy, and we’re not sure what that says.