City on the Make
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City on the Make

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | SELF

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | SELF
Band Rock Folk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"City on the Make keep pushing with latest and best album, Keep This on Fire"

There's something irresistible about how difficult it is to label City on the Make's music, and it's part of what makes their latest album, Keep This on Fire, so intoxicating. Their music pulls from a variety of genres—strains of blues mix with hip hop and punk, while the band members feed off one another like a jazz combo gone mental—and the addition of more experimental sounds on the new record shows that City on the Make is evolving into one of most interesting and forward-thinking bands around.

Songs like "Combat Zone" and "Ships Across the Ocean" explore a softer side of lead singer/growler Mike Massey's vocal range, while more up-tempo songs like "New Shoes" and "No Love City" will sound familiar to fans of their live shows. Lyrically, Massey spends the album yo-yoing between a few personas as well: He's part comedian ("I hang out with artists/But I am not a vegan"), part swagger and scoff ("It's gonna be a hot summer/I soaked the city in the sweat from my balls"), and part hopeless romantic ("My heart is too big/It gets me into all kinds of jams"). Regardless of the shifting moods and genres, however, Keep This on Fire sounds like City on the Make the whole way through, and it's another promising step forward for the group.
-Andrea Swensson, July 2009 - City Pages

"Feature & Interview with Onion A.V. Club (Twin Cities)"

City On The Make’s live shows are sweat-inducing dance parties fueled by Mischa Kegan’s bluesy, psychedelic guitar work; Stephen Rowe’s thick basslines; Colin Stumbras’ pounding drums; and Mike Massey’s roaring vocals. That might explain why the group’s new full-length is called Keep This On Fire, which whipsaws through blues, experimental post-punk, and jazz. Before its July 3 CD release show at Bedlam Theater, the group spoke to Decider about being broke, how Pro Tools is a Pandora's box, and why a $5 cover won't buy you art.
-Carl Swanson,29769/ - Onion A.V. Club

"City on the Make: Made of Steel"

November 2008

Friends since their early teens, the guys in City on the Make just can't seem to maintain a constant forward motion for their gutter-grime of a band. Actually, the fact that they've been friends so long is probably why they're still a band.

"We've never actually thought about not playing together," drummer Colin Stumbras said. "We just learn to adapt to different situations."

Among the "situations" already survived by the explosive quartet were singer Mike Massey's one-year college stint in Milwaukee. He also has been laid up for months from two knee-replacement surgeries, caused by a rare bone disorder called Stickler Syndrome.

The south Minneapolis natives -- ages 22 to 24 -- also say they are constantly struggling to make ends meet between school, work and music, a frequent theme in their workingman songs (even more so than Massey's pain, although that's there, too).

Then came the current stumbling block: Guitarist Mischa Kegan followed his longtime girlfriend to Chicago over the summer. His departure has forced long hiatuses from live performances for the self-described "up-home blues" band (as opposed to "downhome," i.e., one that's urban, northern, industrial). Their gig Saturday at the 400 Bar is their first locally in almost three months.

"We've been Yoko'd," Massey good-naturedly joked.

City on the Make has learned to adapt again. Talking two weekends ago at the two-story duplex they share right off Lake Street, the band's three remaining Minneapolitan members (including bassist Stephen Rowe) actually sounded optimistic about their current predicament.

"It sort of forced us to do something we've wanted to do, anyway, which was play less shows and focus more on writing," Stumbras said.

Massey said, "It's funny: We've been working together since we were kids, but we've never found one certain process of writing songs. So we're just finding new ways to do it now with Mischa in another city. It's not convenient, but it's been fun to experiment."
Experimentalism is at the core of City on the Make. The instrumental members have been jamming together since high school, when they had a little funk band. For years, they would meet on Tuesday nights with other musician friends and "just see what happened."

Massey, meanwhile, had a rap group in junior high called the People Eaters. (When his bandmates brought it up, he made a swift cutting motion across his neck.) Juvenile though it may have been, Massey's PE no doubt played a role in making him the unnerving, uncanny vocalist he's become. It sounds as if he's trying a little bit of a lot of different styles: Tom Waits' gritty howl, Craig Finn's stammering poetry, Muddy Waters' booming mojo and, yes, a wee bit of rap-like rhythmic patterns.

City on the Make has so far produced two very different CDs: an all-over-the-place 2007 full-length, "In the Name of Progress," and this year's leaner and meaner EP, "$1,000,000" (which includes the song "Million Bucks"). The EP opens with the fiery opus "Chicks on Bikes," which at once feels like a feel-good summer anthem and a grimy account of the underbelly of city life. The highlight of "Progress," meanwhile, is a steaming, hair-raising track called "Rustoleum Royal Blues," in which Massey maniacally bellows, "I'm in so damn much pain/ Sometimes I just can't stand the pain."

Asked about his disorder, Massey once again pointed to the upside: "I suppose it's taught me a little bit about life and gotten me to write more. Sitting in a hospital bed for days on end will get you so bored, you think up a lot of crazy ideas."

Amazingly, before and soon after his surgeries, Massey performed like a madman on stage -- jumping, stomping and flailing as the music dictated. Live shows are City on the Make's strongest suit (you can hear decent-quality live recordings of the band at

Stumbras recalled, "We played a couple shows where he was still walking with a cane, and one time he got so wild the cane wound up in my lap behind the drum kit."

Once they reunite with Kegan, things are likely to be even wilder, Massey said. "We've always had an improvisational nature in how we played, so that will probably come out all the more now, for better or worse. We think it'll be better." - Minneapolis Star Tribune


In the Name of Progress (2007)
$1,000,000 E.P. (2008)
Keep This on Fire (2009)



We are hard working people both in and outside of our music. We strive to create something that stands apart from the norm while still tipping our hat to those that've schooled us. Influences range from delta blues to arena rock, gangster rap to Kerouac, Nick Cave to Big Daddy Kane. The result is smart, well crafted, yet spirited and above all fun music that for lack of a better term we call rock and roll.