empire garrison
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empire garrison

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"Press Interview"

Who is Empire Garrison?
We’re a 5-piece band comprised of myself, Craig Holmquist (vocals, guitars), Tim Oesau (keyboards, vocals), Christian Nesheim (drums), Damon Lee (bass) and Greg Mazzuco (guitars).

What’s the story with your second album, Goodbye Singing Songs?
Last summer, we had completed recording and were in the process of thinking about album titles, but none of our ideas really grabbed us. Then Tim and I were at the bachelor party of our founding bassist, Tom Gerde (guitarist for Action vs. Action), and we were talking about some of the ideas we had. Tom had listened to the album a few times and suggested we use one of the lyrics he had heard. He said, “what do you think of Goodbye Singing Songs?” Turns out he had misheard one of the lyrics, changing “I make up by singing songs” to “I make goodbye singing songs,” but Tim and I looked at each other immediately. It seemed perfect. And the phrase itself can have varied implications that we liked. It goes to show you that everyone can find their own meaning in every song. Of course, this also was the guy who thought the chorus to Paperback Writer was “Take the back right turn.” This album also sets itself apart from the first in that it was much more collaborative. The first album only had songs written by me, but this one showcases the songwriting relationship that Tim and I have developed as well as what each and every member brings to the song. The more we play together, the more collaborative it gets. It’s exciting for me to hear each personality in a song and I think this album does just that.

What’s the story with this track off the new album, Empire Garrison : “She Will Be the Record” (mp3)
“She Will Be The Record” is about the seasons of a relationship. I think that’s brought across musically as well as lyrically. Everyone did a great job of striking the mood of each season. I think it’s a story everyone can identify with; the springtime blush of love, summer discomfort, autumn abandonment and winter regret and I think the music evokes these feelings. The recording of this song was an amazing experience for me personally too. I remember that night we left the studio and Tim, Greg and I were summing up the evening and they were really excited about how it was shaping up. I was in calm amazement because what was coming together was exactly the song I had heard in my head. I had never had a song fully actualized that way. It was a fun thing to have that moment.

You recorded the new disc at Flowers Studio in Minneapolis. What was that process like? How was Ed?
I think that [the actualization of She Will Be the Record] is exactly what Ed brings to the process. The man is so talented, insightful and focused. He was able to guide us and facilitate each song. Sometimes he had to challenge us to get us there and it was almost like he knew the song better than we did. But other times I think he was precisely in tune with us and could see exactly where we wanted to go and we all got there together. That was my experience with She Will Be The Record. I owe him a lot for allowing me to hear a song on the radio that sounds exactly like the one I heard in my head so many years ago. But as I dig deeper into the album, I find his imprint and guidance everywhere and I realize how different and unsatisfying this album would’ve been without his presence.

How does Empire Garrison fit in the MSP music scene?
I can never answer questions like this, but I’ll try with an analogy. I’ve never really fit into any one group, but I’ve always played well with others. I think that’s true of the band. I think we’re all very proud to say that we write, record and play music that we ourselves would want to hear. When people tell us what we sound like or guess at our influences, it’s a pretty diverse list. And I’d say that our tastes are eclectic individually. We’re not really looking for a scene to be put in, but we love the scene that’s developing. I like many kinds of music and we’re in a city that produced Prince and the Replacements, Doomtree and Soul Asylum, Lipps, Inc. and the Jayhawks. I think there’s room for everybody.

What’s your differentiator?
Well, we are virtually gimmickless so there won’t be any easy answer here. I am proud of our sense of melody and harmonic context. It’s fun to take a complex thing and make it sound straightforward. I think you can find something in our music to enjoy whether you’re a music snob scenster into math rock or a Woodbury housewife who just likes a pleasant melody in her head.

Tell us about your CD Release party tonight.
Ah. Yes we are very excited for this. We play Friday, the 13th of February at the Turf Club (Snelling and University in St. Paul) with The Small Cities and Victory Ship. Most of us in the band have been doing this in one form or another for over a decade, but every show feels so big and this one is an exception only in that it feels like the biggest show ever! We can’t wait to get on stage and play the new songs as well as a couple surprises. We also can’t wait to hear The Small Cities and Victory Ship. I think it’s a line up you probably wouldn’t see on any other night so it’s really a special occasion for us. We’re expecting a great turnout and it will be fun to reconnect with everybody and make new friends.

Anything else?
Kinda?! We just want to thank everyone who has made this such a great year for us. Thanks for helping and listening and giving us your feedback. We make music we want to hear, but it’s nice to know we’re not alone.

- PerfectPorridge.com


Goodbye Singing Songs (2009)
Independent (2005)

Recent radio play: Cities97 in Minneapolis, as well as other stations throughout the Midwest



Founded as a power-trio back in 2001, EG's sound is now that of five guys with eclectic musical backgrounds and tastes. Influences range from The Beatles to Weezer, Radiohead to Ben Folds, Men at Work to Elvis Costello.

Perhaps it's not a commercially-desirable position, but people have a hard time pigeon-holing the sound. That said, the band is drawing new fans from a multitude of musical camps. To quote from a recent interview with frontman, Craig Holmquist, "I think you can find something in our music to enjoy whether you’re a music snob scenster into math rock or a Woodbury housewife who just likes a pleasant melody in her head."

The band's latest album, recorded with Ed Ackerson at Flowers Studio in Minneapolis, captures the sonic range embodied by the band's members. At the CD Release Party in February 2009, fans packed The Turf Club in St. Paul and found that EG still has some new tricks up its sleeve.