Bandleader, record mogul, journalist, coffee fiend: The mad, mad, mad, mad world of Ian Anderson


Sunday: A day of rest and of relaxation. Not for Ian Anderson, 24, who has been working since the early morning. Five years ago, Anderson founded Afternoon Records. Since graduating high school from in 2003, Afternoon has been hailed as an up-and-coming label within the Minneapolis indie-music scene by such publications as Spin and City Pages. But Afternoon is not the only thing on Anderson’s plate.

“I started a blog called MFR in my senior year of college,” he says. “It’s basically just a jumble of music and other stuff that interests me. I guess it’s something to do with the English degree I got from St. Olaf.”

MFR—which stands for Minneapolis Fucking Rocks—”is something I do when it’s late at night and I can’t sleep,” Anderson says. “I’m a bit of an insomniac.”

MFR has become one of the Twin Cities’ most-read music blogs. “Who ever thought people would care about what we think is cool?” Anderson says. “It’s really flattering to know that people are actually reading it.”

MFR also reflects Anderson’s one-time dream of becoming a music writer. “During high school I knew I wanted to do something with journalism and I loved music, so it seemed like a no-brainer.”

Anderson has been in one band or another since his sophomore year at Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School in St. Louis Park. Aneuretical, his first musical venture, was started by Anderson and John Krueger in the garage of Anderson’s mother’s house in Minneapolis.

“We just sort of messed around in the beginning, but by junior year, we started to see Aneuretical’s potential,” says Anderson. “It’s something I really enjoyed. It takes me back to high school days.”

During Anderson’s four-year stint in Northfield, he was editor-in-chief of the Manitou Messenger, St. Olaf’s newspaper; developed Sliver magazine, an online publication that later converted to MFR; managed Afternoon Records; and lent his musical talents to three local bands.

Despite his hectic schedule, Anderson is far from your typical type-A personality. Pamela Nettleton said that although her son is easy-going, he has always been on the go. “Being a multi-tasker is in his blood,” she says. “I sometimes wonder if he has time to breathe.”

Since graduating from St. Olaf in 2007, Anderson has carried a heavy load of responsibilities, traveling around the country with frequent gigs and recording sessions with his latest concoction, One for the Team, a quartet currently featuring—in addition to Anderson—up-and-coming musicians Grace Fiddler, Elliot Manthey, and Jacob Huelster.

“Music is my first love,” says Anderson. “We’re taking great strides to become a full-time thing. The music Aneuretical played was harder to play. I had to think a lot about what was coming up next, but One for the Team lets us just have fun with the harmonies and sing.”

In 2008, One for the Team went on a 180-date tour. “Being on the road is a crazy, amazing experience,” says Anderson. Referring to the tour, he says that “I have never been so disconnected from reality and yet so connected.”

“This sounds cheesy, but since it is 2009 I can take my work with me so I never miss a beat,” he says. “I can keep an eye on the trends and manage the company from the bus.”

The band began touring in May to promote its sophomore album Build It Up, which described as being contagious and not overly earnest. “Build It Up is a power pop album. Most of the tracks are pretty upbeat and fun. We haven’t gotten sick of playing the tracks yet, which is a good sign.”

“We’re focused on making albums that have resonance in each song and that are different from the majority of the stuff that’s out right now,” says Anderson. “Don’t get me wrong,” he adds. “I love Beyoncé.”

One for the Team will play venues across the United States and Europe through the summer before wrapping up in San Francisco, where they will record for 18 days. “There’s nothing like being on tour,” says Anderson. “It’s such a bizarre and cool experience. I think it’s a great building process for the band. There’s something about meeting a hundred new people each night that is so unique and fulfilling.

“When my grandparents ask me [about touring],” he continues, “I try to explain it as if it were similar to running for political office. Each day, you meet so many people and always try to make the best impression.”

Anderson says that “since I was younger, I’ve taken pride in being the guy who found out about that one band before everyone else did.” With Anderson’s newest project, The Math Team, he is able to be just that. The Math Team provides him with outlets to publicize bands on both the national and international levels.

“I figured out I could use my communication skills to promote bands to newspapers, blogs and television,” he says. “When you promote a band and see them in Spin or City Pages, it’s the most rewarding thing.”

Meanwhile, Afternoon Records has 18 active artists. There are also 16 inactive artists who have taken a break to pursue other projects. Of the active artists, the most promising is Haley Bonar, a singer/songwriter from Sioux Falls, South Dakota who signed with the label in 2006. Her talents were featured on Andrew Bird’s Armchair Apocrypha, released in 2007. Bonar toured with Bird in the spring.

“There’s such an excitement around her,” Anderson says. “She is the real deal.” In 2006, when searching for a label, the young musician was poised to sign with a larger outlet, but opted for Afternoon Records. Bonar’s latest album, Big Star, has received national acclaim and topped year-end favorites lists at local publications Pulse, City Pages and the Star Tribune.

Under Afternoon, an ambitious duo, Now, Now Every Children, dropped its first full-length album in 2008, earning a spot as “Band of the Month” on in December. “Brad and Cacie [of Now, Now Every Children] write really great songs,” says Anderson. “I’m very excited to see what the upcoming year holds for them.”

With bands under Afternoon Records gaining success, it’s no wonder Anderson says he’s as busy as ever. “A typical day begins at 7 a.m. I drink my coffee, which, I think, keeps me alive. Then, I’m always running around with the bands [under Afternoon], and by nighttime I’m exhausted.

“I’m so ADD within the confides of work,” he continues, “it’s nice to breathe and relax when I can. I really like to watch sci-fi and read music blogs. This sounds so ridiculous, but I’m still trying to figure out how to have ‘me time.’ I’ve always had trouble making time to relax.”

What’s next for Anderson? “Aneuretical is releasing an EP in December,” he says, “and I’m looking forward to working with those guys in the studio again. In terms of Afternoon and The Math Team, I think things will remain the same—just hopefully become a little bigger.

“But for now, I think I’m going to go home and take a nap.”

Anissa Stocks ( is a student at the University of St. Thomas and an intern at the Daily Planet.

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