A pleasant encounter with Minor Characters


text by Rose Blanton | photos by Peter Kulak

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Chicago sweethearts Minor Characters. They are a bit of a Cinderella story. Independent of any record label (applause for the boys), these self reliant young men used Kickstarter to fund the development of their first LP. A huge congratulations to them! During our sit down, we debated the importance of salads and which venue REALLY has the best sound.

Rose Blanton: What was it like working with Beau Sorenson? [Beau helped the boys produce their first LP, Voir Dire.]

Andrew Pelletier: Beau was a very transformative experience on a humanistic level, like I’m a different person after working with him.

RB: That’s a pretty big statement!

AP: The way he approaches recording and music is very cerebral, but also very emotional and in the moment. So he’s able to get a lot of things out of me and the band that I never thought would come out of us. He’s a very positive person and he dug very hard into these tunes and transformed our sound.

RB: You guys are independent of any record label, which I think is awesome, but can you go, in depth, of the struggles of not having a label and the freedoms as well?

Adam Schneider: The obvious struggle is funding, and that’s what was really great about the Kickstarter thing. Up front though a lot of the funding came out of our own pockets. Also, any connections we make have to be organic. We don’t get to rely on connections through a label. It’s a lot of leg work on our end. The positive is absolute freedom; we can release whatever we want, we can record whatever songs we want, we can dress however we want, we can say whatever we want, whenever we want and no one can tell us what to do. We hold ourselves accountable.

RB: Do you eventually want to be represented by a label?

AS: Yeah, we can only take it so far as musicians. We desire to build a team that has the same goals and morals as we do. We want them to be an extension of who we are. We are really sensitive of who we surround ourselves with.  We have a clear idea of how we operate. This is something we’re actually in the process of – discovering who that team is.

RB: Do you have a label you deem to work with?

AS: To be clear, we have done some work with Jurassic Pop. They’ve helped us press records and what not. They have been so kind and helpful. But yes, there are north stars we look to. Basically the whole Secretly Canadian and Dead Oceans group.

RB: So Andrew and Shelby, you have both written books that are soon to be released. Andrew, I know your novella sort of coincides with the soon to be released LP Voir Dire. Can you tell me more about this novella?

AP: It’s kind of about nothing…it’s very mental, existential. It’s self-enlightening. It tells the struggles of your early twenties and living in a big city. Going through a recession and post 9/11.

RB: So like, the story of the millennials?

AP: In a way, very much so. It’s humorous and sad, but it’s hopeful in the end.

RB: And Shelby, yours is a book of prose poetry. I know nothing about poetry! 

SHELBY POLLARD: So, prose is a string of consciousness. It’s linear in the way that you’re following the way your brain thinks. My little collection of poems touches on being from a small town, but living in Chicago and loving it, but at the same time being a little sad and despondent about some things that happen in a big city.

RB: How is Voir Dire going to differ from Heal Me, Healing Times?

SP: It’s going to encompass both of our EP’s. In the sense that the first EP is pretty poppy, pretty positive and Heal Me, Healing Times is a little bit darker and weirder. It takes of both those ideas and goes a little bit farther with them. It’s got deeper pockets. The pop songs are more fine tuned and the weird songs are ever weirder.

AS: It’s a continuation of the same story. It’s about us, as a band, working together to create something bigger and better for ourselves.

AP: The first EP is about questioning your role in corporate or societal America. And in Heal Me, Healing Times there’s more of a darkness and a melancholy feeling.

RB: I know the name of your band comes from a Joyce Johnson book, does the beat generation also inspire your art?

SP: Oh for sure, that’s prose! We’ve all talked about this, but it feels like similar times. Fighting this idea of ideal Americanism. Fighting the idea of working a desk job ’til I’m 60. I mean is that cool with everybody else?

AS: There’s this really strange task of compliance where you do what you were told to. You graduate college and get a job and work yourself into the ground because that’s what someone told you to do. You end up not living a full life. We’ve all sat around and checked in with each other and thought, this can’t be right, it doesn’t feel right. So in that way we do identify with the beat generation.

RB: What’s your favorite venue to play in Chicago?

SP: Well, we’re at it. (Schubas)

AS: We’ve talked about this and we’d love to say Lincoln Hall.

RB: I think the sound there is incredible.

AS: That venue is incredible, but there’s something about this venue that just feels so much like home. They take care of you. Whenever you’re doing any kind of work with the Schubas family, they get it done. You’re never guessing about anything.

RB: So what’s next for Minor Characters, what do you want to tell the world? 

SP: We just want this record to be out!


RB: So my last questions is, what is your spirit animal?

James Ratke: I know mine. Mine would be a beaver. I’m a homebody and I like to make my house really nice.

SP: I think mine would probably be a fox. I kind of keep it on the down low. Also, can a fox and a beaver be best friends?

AS: Typically I wouldn’t know the answer to this, but I was recently turned onto primal zodiacs. Mine is a stingray, which makes a lot of sense because I have a strong connection to water.

AP: I also have a fascination with water, so I think mine would be a dolphin. They also are very playful and have sex all day long.

AS: For pleasure!

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