On Saturday, August 20, the Local Show’s Artists to Watch event will feature 10 of my favorite up-and-coming acts in Minnesota performing across two stages at the Cedar Cultural Center. As we gear up for the showcase, you’ll be hearing from the performers in segments on the Local Show and here on the Local Current Blog.
Word about Tony Peachka started to spread around the Current’s cubicles earlier this year. Our music assistant Kelsey started raving about them after seeing them live, and when she cued up one of their tracks, “Party Song,” at one of our local music meetings, I was hooked. Where did this buoyant, airy, poppy music come from? And how on earth did such a breezy little record get released in the dead of winter here in the Twin Cities?
Fans of Belle and Sebastian, bossa nova, Nico, or Minneapolis’s own Buffalo Moon, take note: this band is like breathing in a lungful of ocean breeze on a hot, sticky day. In other words, they’ll be the perfect act for our summertime festival at the Cedar.
Andrea Swensson: Let’s start with the basics. How long have you been a band, and how did you find each other?
Melissa Jones, guitar and vocals: Well, we’ve been together for almost a year now. It’ll be a year in September. We got together from mutual friends, for the most part.
Stephanie Jo Murck, guitar: Yeah, Hayley and Melissa were a thing before I joined the band.
Danielle Cusack, bass: And then I joined later!
Hayley Briasco, drums: We first started off making demos and just messing around, seeing what kind of sounds we could come up with. But then the Tony sound became what it is.
Ooh, I like that — the Tony sound. What is the Tony sound?
Stephanie: I like to call it “angry pop songs.” Right?
Hayley: It started out softer, and very sweet. Now we end up yelling, and Stephanie does some crazy stuff. And I hit the drums a lot harder.
Danielle: Yeah, we get a little nuts.
Stephanie: And this is Danielle’s first band playing bass.
Danielle: I play drums in every other band, and I was getting really sick of drums. I mean, I’m not super sick of them, but I needed something new. Me and Stephanie were in a band together, and then that band ended, but then she was like, “Tony Peachka needs a bassist!” and I was like, “I play bass.”
Stephanie: She is a total shredder, so it was pretty easy.
Danielle: She told me it was a tryout, so I went in being all professional, I was really scared, and then I got there and Stephanie was like, “Do you want to be in the band?” And Melissa and Hayley were like, “I thought she was already in.”
Nice. We should mention, Danielle, that people probably recognize you already from Bruise Violet and Cherry Cola. And even more bands, some of which have broken up already?
Danielle: Yeah, I was in a ska band with Emily from Bruise Violet. [laughs] Yep.
One thing I’m curious about is that your band name sounds like a person. So who is Tony Peachka?
Melissa: We’re all Tony Peachka. Which is the beauty of it.
Stephanie: We should change our last name to Peachka.
And you guys have a new release coming. When is that release show?
Danielle: October 1 at the Triple Rock.
Melissa: That will be our first actual record, recorded well. We did that first one in our basement.
Hayley: Actually the way we recorded it was with one mic, sitting in a boot because we didn’t even have a mic stand. And it was just taking the whole room. It was very DIY.
Stephanie: So for this we had multiple mics.
Danielle: And no boots.
What can people expect at your live show?
Hayley: I would say a good time. Not only do we spread the love and whatnot, but we just like to be funny and goofy.
Danielle: That’s one thing I’ve found, is people always say, “You guys are just SO FUN!” It’s just a big dance party.