It’s been a month since Minneapolis-based alternative synth band Enemy Planes started the trip of a lifetime: flying to Barcelona and winning the Hard Rock Rising international battle of the bands contest.
Over 13,000 bands from around the world entered, but only six bands—from Argentina, Japan, Scotland, Kentucky, and New York—were flown out to Barcelona along with Enemy Planes to compete in the final six. After winning the final round, they earned a spot to play at the Hard Rock Rising Barcelona music festival, where they performed with headliners like Kings of Leon, Avicii, Lenny Kravitz, and more.
Last Thursday night, the Hard Rock Cafe Mall of America hosted a free performance by Enemy Planes to celebrate their victory. Before the show, they sat down to reflect on their whirlwind experience. They were the last ones, it turns out, to realize they’d won the competition.
According to bassist David LeDuc, all of the bands were huddled backstage and everything was being announced in Spanish. “Then, all of a sudden, they had their confetti guns, and we heard our band name…and everyone was just kind of looking around at each other, so what does that mean?”
After several minutes of confusion, the interaction ended with tentative stage entrances, disbelief, and a giant bear hug from LeDuc. “For all we knew, we didn’t win,” remembered guitarist Joe Gamble.
While winning the contest was quite a feat, the band agreed that the feeling of playing the festival in Barcelona was worth more to them than the win. According to guitarist Shön Troth, “I think when we got on the plane [to Barcelona], we all realized that we already won: we won because we got to go there.” The stage they performed on was even close enough to the ocean for Gamble to get completely drenched by a wave an hour before show time, while taking a brief and innocent wade into the water.
Before being offered the trip to Barcelona, Enemy Planes only had to play one live round at the Hard Rock Café in Minneapolis last April. A lot of the competition, it turned out, had to do with marketability and their previous work and online presence. Lead singer Casey Call says, “An opportunity like this means a lot to us, because it raises our visibility in a way that we can’t afford to do on our own. Hopefully this opens the doors for us a bit, but we’re doing it because we love it.”
Enemy Planes have hardly been hiding, though, since they got their start as a band in 2012. They toured with the Meat Puppets, performed at SXSW and Summerfest, and have released a couple of impressive music videos—one even filmed by the legendary Tobias Stretch. Two years ago, they visited The Current’s studios to record a session.
As far as the future for Enemy Planes, there’s plenty going on. They’re planning to release their first album, Beta Lowdown, soon, and they say they have enough material at this point for three albums. Call also says the Barcelona win is helping to put them at the level where they want to be: “We’ve been doing this for so long, and we for so long envisioned ourselves at a certain level and it’s like, okay, we are finally getting to do what we should be doing.”
Mackenzie Martin is a podcast enthusiast and senior at Macalester College, where she majors in media & cultural studies.