Gloss are the type of young band that you just can’t help but root for. The emerging Minneapolis group features five affable musicians who are enjoying each and every exhilarating moment that comes with being a new group on the rise.
The jangly, infectious guitar sounds layered throughout Gloss’s breezy debut single, “Front Porch,” which frontman Jeff Cornell wrote when he was just 17, recently caught the attention of the Twin Cities music scene, and has been receiving regular airplay on both the Current and Radio K. The group is now in the process of fully capitalizing on that growing buzz by putting the finishing touches on their debut EP, while continuing to grow more comfortable performing on stage in front of their gradually swelling fan base.
In fact, my very first introduction to Gloss came back in November at Cause during the BNLXFest, where the fledgling group were playing their first show in a proper venue and were feeling a bit nervous, which ultimately only added to their charm. “We had played a couple house shows before that, but actually performing on a stage was totally new for us. Being on a stage is very different than just playing in somebody’s basement in front of friends,” recalls Cornell. “It was definitely a combination of having a lot of fun, but being very nervous at the same time. The nervousness was a motivator in a way. We didn’t want to mess up our first public performance, but in a way that made us try harder.”
And indeed, that memorable BNLXFest performance impressed the full house at Cause that night, which was packed with longtime Twin Cities musicians who were instantly reminded of their own first gigs while being won over by Gloss’s buoyant, guitar-driven garage pop. Their crisp, six-song set served as a respectable introduction to the local scene, with the band smoothly blending elements of early Cure alongside more modern day influences like the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart within their distinctive, engaging sound.
Drummer Jordan Bleau first met BNLX’s Ed Ackerson by serving him coffee at his first job in Minneapolis, and the two quickly bonded over their shared love of music, with Ackerson generously sharing his years of music experience with Bleau and the rest of the band. “I didn’t really know his deal at first, but we got to talking about music and stuff since he came into the shop every day,” Bleau explains. “He invited me to Flowers [Ackerson's recording studio] one day to check it out and to see what I wanted to do with music. He’s been cool to me ever since. Ed is one of the raddest dudes I know, he makes awesome records and writes and plays awesome music. He’s also a really solid guy. I look up to him a bunch.”
Gloss’s roots stem from the longtime friendships of Cornell, guitarist Sean Neppl, and bassist Jack Woolsey, who all went to middle and high school together in Eagan. They met Bleau, who had recently moved to Minneapolis from Iowa, after the Drums/Craft Spells show at the Entry back in April, and Bleau quickly agreed to play drums for the band, eager as he was to make some new friends in the local music scene. Shortly before their second show together, Jordan brought in Emmy Carter to play synthesizers (replacing original synth player Ian Miller, who now creates the band’s album art) to complete the group’s current lineup.
The local music community has been extremely nurturing toward Gloss so far, something that the band appreciates and tries to pay back in kind. “We owe just about everything to Gunnar Kauth, from [Saint Paul dreampop quartet] Phantom Vibration. He got us our first two house shows and spread the word when ‘Front Porch’ was first released,” says Neppl appreciatively. “The Current has been incredible of course, and Radio K and other local artists. Just about everyone we run into has kind words or wants to help.”
While it might be easy for a band who technically only have a few songs released to get caught up in the swelling buzz attached to their group, Cornell is quick to point out that they are all maintaining level heads going forward, and concentrating on making new music that they can feel good about. “We try not to let the modest amount of press we have received get to our heads. We are making sure we like the songs first and foremost. Music is a way of self expression, not trying to meet expectations from others,” Cornell says insightfully, belying his youth.
While the tracking for Gloss’s forthcoming EP is all finished, it’s still in the mixing process, with titles for most of the songs and the EP itself yet to be determined. But their debut 7-inch, “Front Porch/Ian’s Dream,” is set to be released at the beginning of April on the upstart Manic Pop! record label out of Rochester, Minnesota. The label’s founder, Mike Perry, actually reached out to the band after hearing “Front Porch,” and wanted to release the 7-inch for them, becoming yet another supportive influence on Gloss’s nascent career. “The way [Perry] put it to me was that he ‘saw a need’ for bands to have a quality physical release, and that was a need he wanted to fill,” explains Bleau. “He’s one of those guys who is passionate about the right stuff, and is making things happen under the radar. He’s been awesome.”
Gloss’s initial recordings were all done in a minimalistic set up in Neppl’s basement, using whatever random equipment the band could assemble, including a snare drum mic that was once part of a karaoke machine. But for the EP, the group upgraded to the home studio of their friend, Peter Leisz, who assisted Bleau in producing their new songs. The recording session was done quickly over the course of four hectic days, but the band is excited with the how the new tracks sound as well as their move up from the basement recordings of their past. “Getting to work with good equipment for the EP was wonderful. Even though it’s still in the mixing process, it was a major step up from the basement recordings,” Cornell says proudly. “Our friend Peter really knows what he’s doing, and was able to help guide us through the process. Although it was stressful to finish tracking in four days, the results will be far better than the first two songs.”
While “Front Porch” has a decidedly upbeat buoyancy to it, “Ian’s Dream” takes a more leisurely approach, with the relaxed, muted arrangements serving as mere melodic waves beneath Cornell’s plaintive vocals, before giving way to an extended guitar outro that showcases the sprightly interplay between Jeff and Sean. Due to the strength and allure of those two initial songs, as well as an entertaining live show which grows more assured with each passing performance, Gloss have garnered some well deserved attention within the local music community and beyond. But the band is most excited about what the future potentially holds for them, and all of the records that they have yet to make together—including a planned full-length, which the band hopes to begin writing sometime this summer.
“It feels like we’re getting a lot of attention, but at the same time it doesn’t feel like we’ve ‘made it’ yet,” Neppl says unassumingly. “The thought of having a real body of work, beyond those initial singles, that people can listen to, absorb and hopefully pour themselves into, is really humbling and empowering.”
Gloss play a 7″-release show at the Fine Line Music Cafe on April 3 with Bad Bad Hats and Nature Shows.