Murzik
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Murzik

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Folk Rock

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"What drew me in was the melodies that you get in that type of music that you don't necessarily get in rock music," he said. "There are just wide varying melodies that are just beautiful to listen to."

Borrowing traditions from earlier periods and other cultures obviously isn't unheard of in pop music. Artists such as Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Nick Cave have made careers out of it. - MPR All things Considered


Even Leonard Cohen needs songs to listen to. He is sitting in his living-room, in his robe, staring at his 5-CD changer. He has eaten a bowl of cereal and later he will shower. Right now he just wants to hear a song. He wants a song like a song he would sing, but lustier, in a way, and a little plainer. He craves a kindred spirit, not mimicking words. He does not want to mope. He wants to be lifted into his day, up and into the streets, full of beautiful women. - Said the Gramophone


What is it about acoustic guitars and hand percussion that drives the Flower Power generation's offspring to hate folk? (Oh yeah, the '60s...) But try as you might to push it away, folk pushes back, most effectively by border hopping. This week's folk culture du jour is Slavic, as monkeyed with by stateside groups such as gypsy punks Gogol Bordello and klezmer revivalists DeVotchKa, both of whom arrive on the wave cast by the new film Everything Is Illuminated, the soundtrack of which may do for Slavic music (or more likely, U.S. bands playing Slavic music) what O Brother, Where Art Thou? did for Gillian Welch.

The Minneapolis branch of the movement comes in the form of Murzik, a quintet of Bible school dropouts who prove that step one in playing Russian-sounding music is getting yourself a Russian-sounding name. The group's self-titled EP is an impressive debut that lives up to their name's promise; it's exactly what you might expect a band called Murzik to sound like. "Bluebird" is especially emblematic of the group's sound--five seconds of its down-tempo oompah beat and you get the drift and beg for more accordion. You get it with the two-step murder ballad "Ol' Big Jim," and a glockenspiel fix to boot with the breezy "Isle of Beauty." And while accordions and glocks are a pretty easy sell these days, Murzik is hardly stock footage: frontman Bryan Steenerson takes the Slavic folk tradition and makes it his own through a Morphine-cool vocal delivery and memorable lyric imagery. It's good enough to get folk-haters clapping despite themselves.

Chuck Terhark - City Pages


Pulse of the Twin Cities “Hot Ticket” www.pulsetc.com January 3/06

Murzik’s “dark folk” with beautifully eerie East Euro tinges infused with old world Balkan accordion transports you to another time and place. - Cyn Collins - Pulse of the Twin Cities


Russian vodka is an experience like no other. Smooth, biting and distinct with a full-bodied burn, it tempers the salty richness of caviar and holds its own against the thickest black bread.

Listening to Murzik's blend of Russian/dark folk music is also an experience like no other. The music, beautiful and disturbing (in a good way) all at once, conjures a sullen, visual atmosphere rife with metaphor and religious imagery, drawn out and brought to life by Bryan Steenerson's cool vocal delivery.

Murzik is Bryan Steenerson (vocals, acoustic guitar), his brother Darin Steenerson (bass, saxophone), Nathan Simar (accordion), Jeremy Grace (mandolin, glockenspiel) and Toby Smith (drums, percussion).

"We've all had rock band experience, but there comes a point when all the bands start to sound the same. Also, we didn't want the usual setup of two guitars, bass, drums and maybe keyboards," Bryan Steenerson said. "We thought it would be nice to do something different."

Different is an understatement. The band describes their sound as "European-influenced American music" and with their typical instruments being a glockenspiel, accordion and mandolin, odds are you won't hear anything else like them in the Twin Cities.

The band wears suits when performing and while they complement their sound, Simar says they add to their respectability.

"When we wear them, the bartender is less likely to cut us off," he said.

"Not to mention they look pretty good in the dark. And with our sound, we really can't do the Hawaiian shirt," Grace added.

Bryan Steenerson, Simar and Grace know each other from attending bible college together several years earlier. Steenerson does most of the band's songwriting and admits religion is a staple of their lyrics.

"Having a religious background kind of gives you that guilt and eternal damnation complex which is pretty essential for writing good songs," he said. "Take 'Ol' Big Jim,' for example, it's a song in story form. Jim kills a slave owner who tries to have sex with a slave girl. A posse sets out to kill Jim, but before they catch up with him, Jim sits down and talks to God saying if you give me another chance, I'd probably do it again. The posse catches up with Jim and intends to kill him, but the gun pointed at him jams. The song's about what's right, what's wrong and what's justified."

Murzik released their self-titled EP in 2005; it was completed in just two days. The band is taking their time on the second CD, which they expect to release later this year.

Prior to forming Murzik, Bryan Steenerson wrote and recorded a solo album. The last track included Simar's accordion work.

"After he finished his album, Bryan and I started playing a few shows together in coffee shops for the hell of it and I thought we should take the sound a little darker," Simar said.

Darin Steenerson and Grace joined the duo soon after. Their first show was at the Columbia Grounds; Smith caught one of their performances at the coffee shop.

"It was actually pretty cool, probably because I wasn't expecting much," Smith said. "I thought their sound just had that hook, it was just such a different sound, I wanted to hear more of it. I enjoyed it then and I really enjoy it as I play it today."

"We played for a long time without live percussion, then we added Toby in the last year," Simar said. "Now that our lineup's solidified, we're doing more shows."

And some of those shows have been at atypical music venues. One was the Whole Foods Market, where they played to patrons during the Christmas holiday. Another was the Weisman Art Museum.

"We played at the Weisman during a show called the Mir Iskusstva. It was an exhibit from St. Petersburg and the first time it'd been seen in the United States," Bryan Steenerson said.

"We were very well received there, in fact, the Weisman sold all of our CDs within 45 minutes of us playing," he continued. "Playing at the Weisman definitely showed us that our niche needs to be playing to a theatre audience."

While they have no specific goals, Bryan Steenerson admits they're looking at Murzik long term.

"Well, we do have a plan, kinda. A lot of bands have this short term plan where they play a lot, then they either make it or burn out," he said. "We can play our style of music as long as we want, even for the next 60 years – and I'm looking at doing this a long time."

"We are trying to get Bryan to write a Broadway play, with us as the band," Simar said.

"I did have this idea of playing off the Catholic Stations of the Cross ... maybe I could work on that," Bryan Steenerson said, smiling.

www.murzikmusic.com
www.myspace.com/murzikmusic

by Christine Mlodzik

- Rift Magazine


Pulse of the Twin Cities “Hot Ticket” www.pulsetc.com January 05/05

Local quartet Murzik would be the perfect house-band for a pirate-themed party at your crib. Long on mournful accordion, minor keys and weepy acoustic instrumentation, Murzik’s new self-titled EP features five songs fixated on the darker side of life—hence 40 percent of the cuts featuring the word “death” in their title (“Deathbed Lover,” “Death and Roses.”). Those fond of the equally sea-maurauder styled tunes of the Decemberists will find plenty to love with Murzik. Darkly literate musicoes who like to dim the lights and drink blood while spinning old Nick Cave records should also expect to be readily swept away (or, more aptly, dragged down) by Murzik’s enveloping melodic gloom. With Dollar Store. 9 p.m. $5 adv/ $7 door. 21+. 400 Cedar Ave. S., Mpls. 612-332-2903. van Alstyne
- Pulse of the Twin Cities


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Murzik started out in 2003 when Bryan Steenerson recorded a solo album under the name Murzik, a reference to a common Russian name for cats. The album contained dark lyrics, minor keys and various instruments such as accordions, glockenspeils, mandolin, and others. Upon hearing the album, long time friend and accordionist Nathan Simar, was grabbed by the music, and thus Murzik was born. In 2008, Murzik was the primary feature of NPR's radio show called All Things Considered. The interview was based around Murziks origins and their style of what Murzik calls Dark Folk. The radio show was played nationally and is still available on MPR's web site. Later on in that same year Murzik got the opportunity to open up for Mumiy Troll, a famous Russian pop band. In 2012 the group was featured on a tribute album to Vic Chesnutt which was pressed and sponsored by Rock the Cause LLC. Murzik played at SXSW in 2012 and released their latest album "A Cat Named Murzik" in late 2012.   Murzik is currently working on their 5th studio album which is due out by summer 2014.

For Booking contact Murzik at booking@murzikmusic.net

Band Members