Recently, I was at SXSW with the almighty Soundgarden, doing a few shows. Incredible shows, I should say. They did the entire Superunknown album front to back on a rooftop overlooking Austin!
Two of my (most excellent) runners on those shows were members of the up & coming Minneapolis-based band: The Missing Letters.
here they are on their way to SXSW.
I wanted to find out more about what they were up, so i did my patented Kitty interview:
11 QUESTIONS WITH THE MISSING LETTERS 1. What is your favorite letter? Which letter would we be most screwed if it went missing?
JAKE: X, the Xylophone community would be up in arms.
SHANNON: K….It has smething to do with Japanese Hippos... and unless you are my sister it might be hard to comprehend… But trust me it is so very important!
COLE: T. the most common non-vowel in Wheel of Fortune. Would really change up the metagame if it left us.
2. How/when did you form your band?
JAKE: October of 2012. Shannon threw a post up on a local rock Facebook group looking for musicians and I hit him up. After a few months we started adding more people to the band.
SHANNON: It's not all that interesting of a story...but I can tell you that Mark Zuckerberg played a role in the whole sordid tale.
COLE: I was late to the party so to speak.
3. Living in Minneapolis, so rich in music history, do you feel the pull to either coast? what would make you leave the Midwest?
JAKE: I love the authenticity of the Seattle scene, so that's something I would love to explore further someday. On the other end, New York ALWAYS has something cool kicking, and it's fun to watch what jumps from their melting pot of a music scene. I don't think there's anything specific that would cause me to ditch the Midwest though. When I feel it's time to move along, I'll move along. The Midwest sound will always be my focus.
SHANNON: More toward the West Coast, primarily because of our influences.
COLE: Do you feel the pull to the Minneapolis? Cuz it's there.
(interviewer's note: Oh yes, Prince & Low pull me there)
4. If you could have written one song that exists today in the world, what would it be and why?
JAKE: Your Time is Gonna Come - Led Zepp. Such a simple tune, but so much power. It's awesome.
SHANNON: Positively 4th Street by Bob Dylan, I lived through a similar situation that is described in those lyrics.
COLE: What is Love? Baby, Don't Hurt me.
5. What sound do you wish to achieve?
JAKE: My goal when writing and playing has always been about honesty in the music. I want each song to sound like I mean what I'm playing and that my hearts in it, and I want it to sound like four people sitting in a room playing instruments.
For me, some of the most authentic music was the alternative scene in the nineties. All the way from Meat Puppets and Stone Temple Pilots to Third Eye Blind and Eve 6 and so on, there was just such a cool vibe in music rom that time. I tend to try and package that vibe up with a kick of Minneapolis soul and let it ride.
I usually don't write for a specific style generally, but that's the feel I strive for with every song.
SHANNON: Pure rock and roll. Finding the essence that made Led Zeppelin, the Foo Fighters and MC 5 different from the others
COLE: The kind that goes BRRRRNNNNGHH. If that makes any sense.
6. Your favorite thing about touring is...?
JAKE: The openness of the ride, and the feeling of freedom that comes with knowing you're out grinding with the band to do what you love.
SHANNON: Being in a smelly van with your brothers and embracing everything from everyone
COLE: Van smell.
7. What's the weirdest thing that ever happened to you with a fan?
JAKE: No Answer
SHANNON: No weirdness… I really enjoy meeting people. Especially people that like our music. People thought I was weird my whole life…I suppose that's perspective.
All sorts of people come to our shows, and I think that's one of the cool things about what we do… I like to think of a show with The Missing Letters as a coming together place… Where it doesnt matter what your scene is. We (meaning us and our fans) make up our own scene. So if someone wants to come to one of our shows dressed in a green guerilla outfit, thats cool. Not weird. Ya know?
COLE: I had a really cute girl come up to me once. I got nervous and walked away.
8. Your band is strongly involved in important social issues esp. missing kids, how would you like your fan base to help?
JAKE: In any case or situation, just look for your own way to help. With missing children or anything else really, there's always awareness to be raised, and a number to call. Just do what you can personally to be a solution.
SHANNON: No one tends to think about touchy subjects because they're uncomfortable. We dont think that each of us is a possible victim until it happens to us. That goes for crime, natural disaster or anything really.
The reality is we all need to be more aware about what is happening in our communities, our country, and our world. The more in touch we are, the closer we are to a solution. Its not hard. Just be aware. Open your eyes and your mind. When I was young I had a classmate of mine named Alexis Patterson go missing. As far as I know, she was never found. It really affected me, as she was there, and my friend one day playing with us at recess, and then the next day... gone. There was lots of TV crews at the school the first few days when everything first happened. Then everyone went away, the reporters were gone, and it was like nothing ever happened… but Alexis never came back.
COLE: The success of a campaign like Amber alert requires a broad awareness from the public. All I can ask of anybody is to take a few minutes and look over some pictures from their local area It's very much a hivemind effort.
9. You have one superhero power, name it.
JAKE: Burritos out of thin air.
SHANNON: To be like the human torch, because who wouldn't want to be able to snap their fingers and make a flame?!?
COLE: The power... to move you.
(*interviewer note: did you just quote Tenacious D to me??!)
10. How do you see yourselves in five years? Where would you like to be?
JAKE: Part of the fun of music is that I really have no idea where it could take me in any period of time, but I dig that. The unknown is my greatest motivation.
SHANNON: I want to be successful and happy doing the thing I love the most, and that's playing rock and roll.
COLE: Shooting off flares and sexing up the ladies; you know? Like men do.
11. The question we really wished you had asked us is:_____
JAKE: Whats for dinner?
SHANNON: What was your first interaction with rock n roll?
COLE: Nah, You did fine.
watch The Missing Letters in action here:
I have also posted thirty (count 'em 30!)free things, in my continued Swallowing Diamonds project-- go get 'em, tigers! Click HERE.