Be forewarned: for 37 short but searing minutes, Frances Gumm’s aggressive rock will melt this town at their Scorch the Earth CD re-release party at the 331 Club this Friday. Frances Gumm, infamous for their hard-core, take-no-prisoners, get-in-trouble-with-the-cops ways, sold out the first issue of Scorch the Earth and are bringing it back again on the Maine label Pidgeon Records.
|frances gumm will perform with the shuffle brothers and the jerry rockwells this friday, january 23, at 9 p.m. at the 331 club, 331 13th ave. n.e., minneapolis. in february, paul d will host the riot act reading series at the turf club, featuring local spoken-word artists. frances gumm are also performing on the current’s local show, sunday, january 25 at 5 p.m.|
Initially sent a demo by an incognito source, Pidgeon Records hunted down Paul D. Dickinson, Frances Gumm lead singer/songwriter/guitarist, tracing him here, and picked up Scorch the Earth as their only Midwest recording. It’s fitting, as Amherst, Maine is where Frances Gumm began in the early 1990s, playing shows and touring with bands such as Sebadoh and Pavement. The band eventually moved back to Minnesota—Paul D is the only member from the east coast—and for nearly 14 years, Paul D’s played with Frances Gumm bandmates David “Stainless Steel” Theil on bass and Leo Kuelbs on drums. Recently, Kim Ha has joined Frances Gumm, playing keys and singing.
I phoned Paul D. to find out more, and to fill you in on what you might expect from a Frances Gumm live show (not all will be revealed, as they always surprise).
What about the name Frances Gumm?
It’s Judy Garland’s real name. I hated the name so much, I decided to stick with it as a Zen exercise.
What can someone not experienced with a Frances Gumm live rock show expect on Friday?
Well, it’s pretty aggressive rock and roll, with a few rock and roll endings. You know about rock and roll endings? They’re long endings with a lot of noise at the end. The young musicians don’t do those. They aren’t properly trained, and they mutilate endings. We’re here to show them how it’s done. A great drummer is essential to a good rock & roll ending. You’ll hear it Friday night. Paint will peel at the 331!
You’re touring your upcoming new CD in early spring on the east coast…tell me more about that.
It’s being recorded, at Crazy Beast Studio, by Ben Durrant of Roma di Luna. Crazy Beast is where the Andrew Bird CD was recorded, in Northeast Minneapolis. It’s the best recording studio in Minneapolis, maybe in the world! Our new CD release show will be in Boston and we’ll work our way back, playing also in New York, Amherst, and hopefully Vermont. We always play the Pine Tree Lodge in Manhattan—it’s really great!—and an after hours art scene in Brooklyn. We’ve played New York a lot. I’d like to play more there; the tours are never long enough.
How does playing in New York compare with the Twin Cities?
There’s no comparison—there’s 18 million people there! Minneapolis is tough. Minneapolis wants blood. They demand a lot out of musicians because there are so many. It’s the land of 10,000 bands. A musician has to do something special for people to like them.
What do Frances Gumm do that’s that something special?
We always play for 37 minutes. No more. Because: One. I have no faith in Americans’ attention span. Two. Rock and roll endings. Three. No pitter-patter. I don’t like to talk during shows. [Playing live is] a poison I need to get out of my system—exorcize my demons, get it out before it kills me. It’s not an act of friendship or community. If you’re with me, you can join with me and help destroy the evening—help save the world by destroying it, one evening at a time.
How will the following affect Frances Gumm, or you affect the following? The economic downturn?
The rule is: adapt or die.
The Obama Administration?
I won’t get a new passport or buy new ammunition.
Arts and culture today?
That would be nice.
The current music scene?
More is more.
Will there be themes?
Here are a few: New Wave revenge. Punk weapons. Huffy ten-speed. Self-destruction. 1989 A.D.
And “I Hate Normal People” and “Girl Trouble/Cop Trouble,” from your forthcoming CD?
Yes, we’ll play those. “Girl Trouble/Cop Trouble is from a poem I wrote that’s a triad of doom—“girl trouble/car trouble/cop trouble” repeated over and over. Speaking of girl trouble…we’re happy to have Kim Ha. No one’s let Kim sing in other bands. I believe in letting people go apeshit. Kim is very talented and has a lot of potential. She sings with us, and she’s been a good sport.
This is your first time performing at the 331 Club. What do you anticipate?
It’s going to be tough at the 331. It’s a small stage—we might have to go vertical. I might stand on my amp. If the beer’s cold and the music’s loud, everything’s okay. I’m very excited about playing the 331! It’ll be very fun. It’ll be the best 37 minutes of your life!
Cyn Collins (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Twin Cities freelance arts and culture writer. She is the author of West Bank Boogie, a substitute programmer at KFAI, and an assistant producer of Write On Radio.