We’re not going to the belly of the beast / with straight staccato we’ll shake it ‘till it bleeds
So begins Crusades, the third album from Minneapolis-based band The Plastic Constellations (TPC). It’s a lyric that goes on to color and temper the rest of the record, hinting at the triumphant spirit to follow. Whereas the band bounced between Pavement-inspired jangle and big rock anthems in the past, Crusades wastes no time establishing the latter over the former. Crusades is firmly a Rock Record and it is firmly unrelenting. Listen to the lyrics and you’ll find the band fighting, uniting, and conquering on each track. Couple that with hyper-kinetic guitar work and a thunderous rhythm section, and you’ll find TPC recontextualizing heavy music in the “indie rock” realm, thrusting them above so many less inspired bands.
TPC started playing together in 1995 as tow-headed and rambunctious 14-year-old best friends. At 15, they were asked by Low to open for them at the legendary First Avenue club; amazingly, this happened to be their first show. The four boys officially began storming the Midwest club scene in 1999, and quickly attracted a large following with their infectious live shows. As Atmosphere’s Slug once said in City Pages, “This city is not big enough to hold their energy.”
Now, as slightly more mature 23 year olds, TPC continue to wow audiences with their rhythmic intensity, anthemic melodies, and playful sense of humor. Having garnered favorable press around the country for 2004’s Mazatlan (2024 Records), the band is poised to bring their brand of party to the national stage in 2006 after signing to the influential and respected Frenchkiss Records in New York – home to Les Savy Fav, The Hold Steady, and Thunderbirds are Now!
Lacking any sense of pretension whatsoever, the band draws from a diverse range of influences. Ranging from the post-punk attack of Les Savy Fav to the dance-y rhythm of At the Drive-In, TPC leaves live audiences sweaty and spent. TPC are comprised of Aaron Mader and Jeff Allen on dueling guitars, Jordan Roske on bass, and Matt Scharenbroich on drums. Consistent with the friendship-unity theme of TPC, each member takes their turn in front of the microphone to espouse passionate group declarations.
Clouds part, the sun and a fresh start / ‘cause the paths clear ahead / and hopes not dead / fight till the end!
So closes “Men in Dark Times,” a song microcosmic and emblematic of the record as a whole. The fight is not dead and indeed, TPC is leading the charge.
Critical Praise for 2004’s Mazatlan…
“Sending the intensity of Les Savy Fav through a wringer of unshakable pop melodies that boast unexpected twists and shouts, The Plastic Constellations nail their bludgeoning, super-anthemic rock choruses with an energy infectious enough to directly affect your blood flow.
Pitchfork Media – (8.5 out of 10)
“ ...quirky, ecstatic tunes that throw indie rock, emo and even some hip-hop together and tell them to make nice. On their latest album, the noisy pop quartet diplays the blazing energy of fellow Midwesterners OK Go and some keenly lyrical, Modest Mouse-esque songwriting skills.”
Time Out New York
“Considering their relative youth against their apparent talent, if these guys continue to have fun and like each other they will grow into a formidable force. The kind of band a more bloated major-manicured act fears in the opening slot of a show – TPC would blow them away as easily as target practice on a beached whale.”
1. Is it true that you guys have been a band for more than ten years?
Answer: Yes, please believe it. We started in ’95 as 14 year olds – Matt’s mom would make us cookies during practice, which was sweet. Since then we’ve all gotten a little older, a little wiser, and a lot drunker. We stay on our grind, cousin.
2. Aren’t you guys sick of each other yet?
Answer: Yes, absolutely. You probably can’t find a group of dudes who hate each other more. But at this point we’re sticking together for the money. Period. And let us tell you, it has been very lucrative to this point – why just the other night on tour Aaron slept under a kitchen table.
3. What’s it like being from Minneapolis/the Midwest?
Answer: It rules. We rep that set pretty hard, son. Minneapolis is an amazing city full of a ton of young, creative, cooperative people who are trying to build something sweet. The Midwest is also sweet but for more rugged/grizzled/agricultural/character-building reasons. We encourage you to visit both places.
4. What is a typical night on tour like for you?
Answer: On our way into town, we formulate questions we want to ask of the townsfolk. We then use these questions throughout the night to provide ourselves with an extremely thorough understanding of that local area’s economic history, cultural offerings, geopolitical underpinnings and locations of its cheapest cases of beer.
During our set, there is usually a lot of sweat, movement, flailing, and the occasional onstage vomit due to dehydration.
After the show, people usually let us party at their house, and we do just that my friend.
5. How deeply rooted in the rap game are you?
Answer: Waters run so deep, nephew. Our guitar player Aaron makes flame-broiled heat banger beats as “Lazerbeak” in the Minneapolis hip-hop collective known as Doomtree. In addition, all the rest of us specialize in one of the four elements of hip-hop. Matt has been breakin’, poppin’ and lockin’ since birth. Jordan’s been throwing up hot burners all over the American railroad tracks for over a decade as “Quack-One.” Jeff spins spitting hot lava flames of DJ cuts down at the Hexagon every ninth Wednesday night (ladies drink for free from 6-9 PM).
6. Why are your lyrics all about like dragons and natural disasters and shit? That’s weird.
Answer: Cause that stuff is crazy to think about, dun. Don’t you agree? Those are all things that should be sung about in song form. Seriously though our lyrics are about triumph, unity, friendship, passion. Oh and chainmail. Lots of chainmail.
7. What’s each member’s favorite drink?
Answer: Matt likes cheap gin. Aaron likes Budweiser. Jeff likes Sparks. Jordan likes straight tequila – none of that pussy-ass salt shit. If anyone out there who makes these libations would like to sponsor us and provide us with free samples, we will gladly entertain offers.
8. What are your guilty pleasures?
Answer: Aaron likes R. Kelly and Nick and Jessica’s “Newlyweds.” Jeff likes Coldplay and spreadsheets. Jordan likes Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts films. Matt “never feels that guilty about pleasure” (said with a knowing glance while sipping a snifter of cognac).
9. If you could be any professional basketball player who would you guys be?
Answer: Jeff likes to compare our band to Sam Cassell – a feisty clutch three point shooter with a weird-looking head. But in realty, we’d go with Kevin Garnett. Our devotion to that man runs deep. T-Wolves in ‘o6.
10. Do you guys blog?
Answer: Fuck yeah, dude. We blog 24/7. Check out our blog at blog.bloggertonbloggernog.bloggercom. We have emoticons to tell you how we’re feeling.