The band plans to pack up at the end of this month and resettle on the western edge of our continent, as part of a larger plan of artistic development and personal adventure. The members of Minden were kind enough to sit with me on the floor of a bedless bedroom, in the middle of a loud house party, for a gentle chat about Kansas City, Japanese cinema, and what mysteries their future holds.
What's so wrong with KC if you need to leave it?
Ryan Johnson (drums): Who wants to take this question? I would say there's nothing wrong with Kansas City. it's a great place. I've lived here all my life. KC is great - we love it here. It's our hometown. At least I feel personally home. But there's maybe more opportunities in Portland, being on the coast, and closer to other things that KC can't offer. That's it. No slamming Kansas City.
I know. I was trying to ask a jagged question.
Ryan: Fuck you, Nate.
Casey Burge (vocals): Mountains, ocean, trees.
So it's a landscape thing?
Casey: For me.
Ryan: More hairy ladies.
So if each of you has different things you're looking forward to, how did the decision for Portland come along? Why Portland and not ... L.A.? Not that I'm saying you should go to L.A.
Ryan: More hairy women.
Casey: I think maybe James Taylor suggested Los Angeles or New York or something, but then I said Portland would probably be better. And I think Ryan agreed with Portland.
Evan Houston (bass): And we all agreed.
People seem to say good things about Portland. Is there anything you have set up there? Bands that you'll be playing shows with? Or what about jobs?
Casey: We don't have anything set up.
Ryan: We're pretty much ... we might have a few leads on a house. We don't have anything lined up. We're just going to go out there... I'm kind of friends with this guy Dan Jones. He plays in this band, the Golden Motors. And he's also been in Dan Jones and the Squids. He's excited to play a show with Minden.
Casey: We're just going to go there and play, pretty much, to people that might like our band, hopefully. That's pretty much it. I don't know about this connection that he's talking about.
You don't know what you're going to do for work?
Ryan: Whatever, man. Money just falls in our pockets. We're all pretty lucky, so ...
Dan Talmadge (keyboards): I'll be working in a restaurant, for sure.
And nobody's relocating their office career?
Dan: What's that?
Evan: Whole Foods, maybe?
Casey: I've been in an office before.
So, Minden, are you planning any sort of change with your sound or approach to the band when you get to Portland? Is this a new phase of any sort? Phase isn't the best word. "Chapter."
James Taylor (guitar): I got a tremolo pedal.
Casey: It's going to be the same sound; we'll do more reggae beats, probably, on everything, every song. Reggae versions. That's about it, though. That's the only change.
Dan: More 311 influence.
Ryan: Real pop hits. 311, shit like that. It's going to be totally different. It's going to be way better. We're going to be living in the same house together. We're going to try to live in a house together - no, we're not going to try; we're going to do that. Get a bunch of recording shit and record whenever we want.
Evan: We should make a TV show about it.
James: Oh, I'm not going.
Ryan: Yeah, James is going to stay in Kansas City and work at the Union. He's going to retire and be a multimillionaire.
James: And handjobs.
Ryan: He's pretty good. He does this turn-screw motion, a kind of up-and-down.
James: "The Peppermill."
Ryan: How much are those going for today, James? You got a special going because it's my birthday?
James: I know what you got coming.
Ryan: Is it a gift?
James: No, it was a joke. Did you get the "coming" joke?
That sounds great. You're going to have a Minden house.
Ryan: The Minden Mansion, the Minden Manor, something like that.
Casey: There's probably going to be some Minden tags popping up around Portland.
Ryan: I don't know what that means.
So is there a plan for what you're going to do after Minden Manor's lease is signed, and you have all your recording set up? Are you going to do a full-length?
Dan: Make the best record ever.
That's a good idea.
Casey: Maybe someone will give us a bunch of money, and we'll go on tour to Europe. We'll just pay off all our lease and peace out. Or wherever. Maybe a Danish tour.
Casey: Maybe, I don't know.
The Japanese are fickle.
Casey: Lots of radiation over there right now.
Ryan: Too much aftermath.
Evan: The porn still isn't weird enough in Japan, I don't know.
Casey: They create really weird porn.
Ryan: I saw this weird video one time. Someone had manufactured a urinal with a hole cut out of it. And it was really done real nice, like someone who was a craftsman or sculptor or something like that would look at it and be like, "Wow, good job on that." Anyways, this girl's face was through it, and this guy peed in the urinal and then peed in the girl's face, and it was really ... strange. No, I didn't like it.
I'm going to press the plans thing: You guys are moving April 27?
Casey: Ryan and I will officially go out on the road, doing a cross-country Ryjo-Burge tour.
Ryan: And Evan.
Casey: Maybe Evan. Are you coming with us?
Ryan: He's 80 percent.
Casey: Did your mom say it was OK?
Evan: I never said 80 percent.
Casey: Ryan and I will be on tour all the way from here to Portland. It's going to be a small tour to promote ourselves as we are. Strangers coming to your town.
So percussion, guitar and vocals?
Casey: Ryan is going to shave his beard in a week.
Ryan: No! That's not happening.
Casey: He's going to shave his beard and wear a ponytail.
Ryan: No, no, no. I'll never shave the beard, never ponying this long hair. It's always "party down." I'm not putting it up like a bitch. I'm going to join a beard club in Oregon and win cash-money prizes. This is an award-winning beard.
Casey: What else do you want to know? We're just rambling on about bullshit.
Yes, OK, we got sidetracked, I'm sorry. But I really want to know the plan once you're there. Going there is a big deal, it's a big move - you have to quit your jobs, pack up your house, sell your shit.
Casey: It's just a leap of faith. And we're hoping it'll be big returns on our investment. We're trying to have an adventure, I think, basically.
Evan: The idea is that we get out there, we find jobs, try to get set up in a house where we can be creative and keep working on music.
Casey: What we're doing here, only over there.
Evan: Hopefully play a lot of shows and get people interested in what we think is a pretty awesome band that we're proud of.
Casey: Hopefully we'll play there and people will think, "Hey, this sounds pretty good."
Evan: And we've got a lot of recordings that we've been finishing up, which are potentially our first record, and we want to get them out eventually on vinyl so that people can listen to it.
Is there anything to expect as far as releases go?
Casey: There'll be a full-length coming out real soon. It's all recorded. And Joel Nanos recorded us at Element Studio, which is pretty much the best recording studio in Kansas City. Joel Nanos is probably one of the best engineers in town. We've all recorded with a bunch of people. Give Joel Nanos a shout-out. We're big on Joel Nanos.
Ryan: Actually we're at a party right now, it's my birthday. We're drinking whiskey, beers. We're smoking cigarettes.
Casey: There's a map of Portland on the wall.
[A mostly indecipherable conversation begins about what bands should make up the litany of shout-outs that follow, which includes, but is not limited to, Ghosty, Pizza Party Massacre, Casket Lottery, Record Bar, Parts of Speech and Blondie Brunetti.]
What will you miss?
Casey: The music scene in Kansas City and Lawrence is amazing. It's incredible. It's actually incredible.
Ryan: Cops are on their way. I hear sirens.
Say farewell to sweet princes Minden this Saturday, April 21, at RecordBar, with Ghosty and the ACBs.