“I’ll be your fall guy, that’s what I am” is the bright and catchy chorus that welcomes you to The Symptones’ wonderful concoction of rock, soul, punk, and folk entitled “Irrational Fears/Overactive Imagination.” The Symptones are a five-piece rock band from Minneapolis, Minnesota that play an infectious combination of indie-rock, soul, folk, and punk. Their debut full-length is a nine-track display of their talents as hooky songwriters and vibrant instrumentalists. A great example of these skills is the third track, “More Compatible Signs.” It starts out with a little funk guitar riffing and honestly reminds me of a combination of Ivy and “First Band On the Moon” era The Cardigans. The verses are propelled by Taylor Tuomie’s awesome Springsteen-esque vocals and are perfectly complemented by the wonderful brass provided by Jake Nemec. The pre-chorus comes out of left field with a great guitar line that would easily sound at home on a mid-80’s Prince album. While I’m not sure who is playing the guitar solo on the outro (The Symptones have two guitarists which is always a power move), I do have to congratulate them on an impeccable solo. So, good job whoever you are. One thing I have to talk about now is Taylor Tuomie’s great voice. As I said earlier, it definitely has a Springsteen-ness about it, but also sounds like if Isaac Brock from Modest Mouse calmed down for a little bit. Full disclosure, I was not expecting was how hard their song “How Ya Feelin” goes. After two impeccable lower-key songs, “How Ya Feelin” appears just to remind you that The Symptones love to rock out too. Also, the gang vocals are just great. They keep the high energy up with “Imposters,” which could easily be a hit. This song definitely just gives off a major Springsteen vibe, which I for one love if you couldn’t tell. The Symptones are easily one of my new favorite bands, and if they’re already this talented then they’re going to be pretty well known very soon.
Taylor Tuomie - Sings, plays guitar, more of our rhythm stuff
Andrew Polski - Guitar
Steve George - Drums and backup vocals
Jeremy Gullikson - Bass and backup vocals
Jake Nemec - Horns and auxiliary percussion
(Melodic Noise) How's your day going?
(The Symptones) Fantastic. How many MN artists answer this question with a weather comment? Are you baiting us? The warmer weather is doing wonders for me.
(MN) Band name?
(TS) The Symptones. We're hoping to catch that spillover from mistyped Google searches intended for Web MD.
(TS) Indie-rock with soul, dance, punk and funk influences.
(MN) What’s the band’s origin story?
(TS) Andrew, Steve and I started playing about three years ago, mainly just some classic rock covers. We probably played Breakdown by Tom Petty about 1,000 times.
I had a few originals I had worked out on acoustic and we started working on more and more original stuff. In our earlier days, I was skeptical that anything I had written would work with the band. I thought it was all destined to live and die at my kitchen table.
We brought Jake in for a song that I had a trumpet part in mind for, he played our first show with us. He quickly worked out horn parts for the other songs.
Jeremy came on board shortly after. We were really trying hard to poach him from another band he played with and what can you say, our good looks swayed him.
(TS) Unsigned. Although, we did release our EP under the label name LSDad Records, because DistroKid needed us to list a label, and LSDad is what Steve and Jake desperately wanted to call the band.
(MN) What is the story behind the album name?
(TS) Irrational Fears / Overactive Imagination. I was driving my wife to the airport in March at like five in the morning. She'll run through a mental checklist of things that either need to be unplugged or locked at our house as a daily ritual. I was super out of it and she's running through it out loud, like “I unplugged my straightener. You turned off the stove, right? The front door's locked. Make sure you keep stuff away from the furnace.” And I probably laughed a little or something and she's like “What, it's not funny. You know I have irrational fears and an overactive imagination”. I fell in love with it immediately. It's so relatable. I was like don't we all? I asked her to text it to me so I wouldn't forget it, since I was driving. It fits the theme of our songs so well. If you were to put them onto teams it'd be like yeah, Fall Guy, Rosetta, you're on team imagination, toss on a red jersey. Don't Cut Me Loose, Boxes, Get To You, you're with the other, irrational fears.
(MN) Lyrically what stands out on the album?
(TS) The songs really do either fit an imaginative or a fearful theme; not like Loch Ness Monster and nuclear war, but more so things like daydreaming (Rosetta) and fear of slowly falling apart from someone that means everything to you (Boxes). Complex words aren't our thing. It just never sounds natural when I sing them. For a long time when I was writing songs on my own, I'd have a thesaurus next to me and would regularly use it. I hit a point where I was like, what am I doing? I appreciate honest, heartfelt writing. Most of the songs we've written come together quickly. When we force it, it shows.
(MN) What was the inspiration behind the album?
(TS) When we released our first EP, it was just a blast to create something original. Personally, my biggest inspiration was the drive to create something I'm proud of. We definitely did that with IF / OI.
(MN) What do you hope people take away from the album?
(TS) There are some catchy songs on the album. I hope they get stuck in peoples’ heads. We were wrapping up mastering and Ali (Jaafar, of Ecstattic Studio, who recorded, mixed, and mastered the album) was like “I was walking around singing “How Ya Feelin” the other day and couldn’t figure out what it was. I was just thinking, what song is this? Is it a 3rd Eye Blind song?” We took that as the highest form of a compliment.
(MN) Is there something that connects the songs together?
(TS) Yeah, really I think either the theme of fear or imagination, and how that line between them can get blurry at times.
(MN) Locals or transplants?
(TS) Locals! We all went to Irondale High School together and all live in the Twin Cities.
(MN) What are your influences and Minnesota influences?
(TS) Paul Simon has been my lyrical Northstar. I gravitate to his songwriting, it pulls you in, how it can evoke a spectrum of emotions, all the feels. We have a lot of different individual influences, though, and it shows. I love that about us. We collectively love Whitney, big Talking Heads fans. Replacements and Prince 4ever.
(MN) Favorite current Twin Cities artists?
(TS) Our release show on April 27th is really a dream line up for us. Panther Ray has such a cool sound, Fragile Canyons are awesome people and I love their vibe. We've played a couple shows with The Sparks and they put on a super fun show. Another Heaven and Backpackers are both insanely awesome. Faith Boblett kicks ass. Double Grave put out that great music video a few weeks ago and I can't get the song out of my head.
(MN) Favorite venue to play & see shows in Twin Cities?
(TS) 7th Street Entry
(MN) What can fans expect when they come to your show?
(TS) Horn spins, a whole lot of hair on a drummer, and just a good time. We have so much fun playing shows.
(MN) Do you have a favorite/crazy memory of playing a show?
(TS) Ok, again, speaking personally. Because the rest of the band might have a different favorite/crazy memory, but this is my favorite (there have been crazier). Back in the fall of 2017 (actually, now that I'm thinking about it, it was Jeremy's first gig with us) my wife (then girlfriend) and I had just moved into our house in St Paul. We threw this huge house warming party. We set up in our garage, early. A neighbor who I hadn't met yet walked over and started sound checking us just because. We had lights behind us, just a fantastic vibe for a house party from the get go. People were hanging out, eating and drinking, we didn't tell anyone we were playing. At like 8 o'clock, we went in to the garage and a bunch of people were right in front of it. It was so cheesy and fun. We hit the garage door opener and Jeremy and Steve, ripped into that cool drum and bass line from Dancing in The Moonlight by Thin Lizzy. We played for like an hour, the cops got called, but they just decided to watch. A few neighbors popped by. It was a fantastic way to make a name for yourself in a new neighborhood.
(MN) Who are your dream tourmates?
(TS) Whitney. Lizzo. Snoop Dogg. A guy getting hit in the stomach with a cannonball like Homer in the Lollapalooza episode of the Simpsons. Any of the bands playing our release show.
(MN) Other hobbies?
(TS) I'm a big bread baker. Andrew is a pet parent and took up Skijoring this winter. Steve is actively writing a sequel to Encino Man. Jake is into curling. Likes rocks on ice. Jeremy loves chicken wings.
(MN) What do you like about living in the Twin Cities?
(TS) People care about each other. It doesn't always show and we joke around that our true genre is Passive Aggressive Rock for passive aggressive people, but it really is a caring community. We've been incredibly well supported by friends and fans we've met since starting the band. I love the fact that we've made friends with bands, it's like when your group of friends meets another group of friends and you amoeba together and hang out.
(MN) Favorite places to grab food or drink in the Twin Cities?
(TS) Jimmy's in North East, Ramen Kazama, Sporty’s, Taco Johns
(MN) Day jobs?
(TS) Advertising, marketing, sales, legal field, logistics. It pays the bills.
(MN) What are the band's plans for the future?
(TS) Well we've all put a lot of time and energy into this album. We're doing our best to really do it “right”, you know? We spent the whole winter recording and mixing it and now we're ready to put it out. I'm enjoying the ride, knowing that we've got a good thing going. Hopefully we can get back to making more music soon and have as much fun doing it as we did this time around! Other than that, we put out our first ever music video, which was so much fun to make (Steve is a professional video editor so it worked out). We shot it when we were doing a little two night tour in Duluth. And of course, we're releasing the album on Friday, April 26! We play the following night at Mortimer's.
Review by: G Blu
Edited by: Andrew Perrizo
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