As an up-and-coming group in the Minneapolis indie rock scene, the Counterfactuals are a band to watch for at gigs in Northfield and the Twin Cities.
And if you think you’ve never seen them before, think again – you may have had one of the band members as a professor, adviser or colleague.
Comprised of professors Daniel Groll and Jason Decker of the Carleton philosophy department, Andy Flory of the Carleton music department and Mike Fuerstein of St. Olaf’s philosophy department, the Counterfactuals have been getting quite a bit of exposure recently, appearing on 89.3 FM The Current’s Local Current blog and on “The Local Show,” as well as having three successful performances in the Twin Cities.
The group also played on Saturday night at the Rueb‘N’ Stein in downtown Northfield. Danny Nathan ’12 and Rebecca Gourevitch ’12 attended Saturday’s show.
“It was really great,” Gourevitch said. “It’s exactly the kind of music I like. And it’s fun that they’re professors – it’s just fun to feel like they’re real people.”
“It was really good,” Nathan agreed. “Actually, by chance my friend and I had seen them at the Cow back in January. I didn’t know who they were then, but we kept pausing our conversation to look over at the band and say how good they were.”
Gourevitch, too, had seen them at the Cow in January, and she and Nathan are not the only people who have been impressed enough to hear the group perform again.
“People in the community actually go out to listen to local music,” Decker said.
“This is a great place to be in a band,” Flory added. “People are excited about it. The reception here has been so easy.”
“Things are going well,” said lead singer Daniel Groll. “There were a lot of people” at the Rueb show.
With two more upcoming performances in Minneapolis and a full album slated to be out by fall, there is no question that things are indeed going well for The Counterfactuals.
The group started out as just Groll and Decker when they discovered a sizeable overlap in their music tastes during a four-hour drive to a philosophy retreat.
After that, “I basically harassed [Decker] into forming a group,” Groll said, “which is how I get Jason to do everything.”
The two played as a duo for a year starting in the spring of 2010.
Since then, a number of other musicians have played with the band, including Carleton’s Manager of Campus Energy and Sustainability, Martha Larson, and current drummer Mike Fuerstein.
“Andy came in as our bass player in 2011,” Groll said.
“And started playing bass in 2011,” Flory added.
Flory originally played the guitar, only picking up the bass when he joined the band. And Flory is not alone: instrumental versatility is characteristic of the group.
“Three of the four of us play instruments we weren’t trained on,” Groll said.
Between gigs (the band is generally committed to performing about once a month), rehearsals and recording for their album, it can be tough for The Counterfactuals to balance the demands of their musical and academic lives.
“When you’re a professor, your work is your passion,” Flory said. “It can be overwhelming. You take your work home… you have to do other things to keep yourself sane.”
“I balance it by being on sabbatical,” Decker joked.
Groll said that the band carves out two hours a week to get together, and when they are together, they try to be very productive. He also said it is a big plus that everyone in the group is musically very strong, because they pick things up fast.
Even with their busy schedules, the group has been making steady progress on its album, recording it themselves in Groll’s basement. They hope to have it completed by next fall.
In the meantime, The Counterfactuals have been at no loss for original material.
“I was really impressed – they played for one and a half hours without doing a cover, which is really impressive for a band working on their first album,” Nathan said.
“We played a few covers in the early days, but there are enough songs, we could put out a double album if we wanted to,” Groll said.
“And they keep coming,” Flory added.
The Counterfactuals’ next show is at Acadia Cafe in Minneapolis on May 10. The band cites Jessica Paxton, media relations assistant at Carleton and supportive fan of The Counterfactuals, as being essential in setting up all of their gigs in the Cities.
Though the group says the Rueb is a great space to perform, they don’t anticipate playing in Northfield again until sometime in the fall.
Check them out, see Daniel Groll’s dedicated gig belt buckle, and hear some of their music at thecounterfactuals.bandcamp.com and on Facebook.