January 16, 2023 Ann Treacy 5 Question Interview
Scott Allen has a long history in Minnesota music and it’s great to learn more about him before his debut album releases on Jan 20 at The Icehouse. His answers are as thoughtful as his songs!
You have a long history of music in Minnesota as a sound engineer and with some fun bands, such as Band on the Rocks. What inspired you to release your debut album now?
I wrote “alternative” songs when I was younger, influenced by bands like The Cult, REM and U2. I went to the local pubs and saw groups like The Flamin’ Ohs, The Phones, Mile One, Soul Asylum, Trip Shakespeare – all local bands that blew me away and made me want to be like them. When I moved to the Twin Cities and started playing bass with other established bands, my own music took a backseat to all the cool songs my bandmates were writing. I had worked with Aaron Seymour of the Delilahs, Melvin James from Planet Melvin, and Phil Solem from The Rembrandts, among others. I learned to mix sound as a side gig between tours. It kind of took over as my primary focus for a long time, and I really enjoy working with a lot of different bands this way. I toured as a tech for Shakespeare’s Lulu tour, mixed front of house sound for Rex Daisy, Big Backyard, Mango Jam, Martin Zellar, and The BoDean’s Kurt Neumann. I served as a house sound guy at The Cabooze for two plus decades. I still mix sound for a select group of clients because I love it – the whole package – Networking with friends and making them sound good.
These days I am more focused on writing my own music than my gig as a sound engineer. I think I’d carried over the idea that everyone else’s music was so much more interesting than my own, and I needed to break that cycle in order to put out a solo album.
The first two songs on the album, The Finest Hour and She’s Almost Here, make me think of the early years with my own kids. You sing about being proud and welcoming but also it feels like the celebration of moments big and small. Can you tell us about those songs?
The Finest Hour – Two weeks to the minute after receiving my second original Pfizer vaccine, I was reunited with my family. I yearned to play in the same room with my grandkids Brynn and Marco. I didn’t have to put a layer of glass between us anymore… or “Make a face through the window”. It was the best day of my life – it was indeed the finest hour. It was, as you said, “a celebration of moments big and small”.
But that day and the weeks that followed, were a series of small moments that were gigantic, getting to hug my 7 month old grandson Marco for the first time.
She’s Almost Here – It was written from the perspective of our dog, Willie. Our pets (three dogs at the time) could sense mamma coming home before she ever hit the driveway. It would start out with random dog grunts like popcorn popping, and went into a complete bark fest frenzy when her car hit the driveway. It was like radar. The unconditional love from a dog is one of the best kinds ever. Two of my Irish Wolfhounds are on the inner sleeve of the CD version of my album. They are immortalized in the album finale “St. You”. I hesitated to put a melancholy on this album, because the rest is sort of upbeat sounding.
Black Ice Freeway feels so Minnesota in a very rocker way. I really enjoy it. Other than winter allusions, how you think Minnesota seeps into your music?
Definitely by way of the artists who inspire me. My favorite songwriters are, or were at some point, Minnesotans. Black Ice Freeway describes flying down an icy interstate 94 going sideways at 60 MPH without even breaking the conversation I was having with my date. That’s as Minnesota as it gets!! Snow and Ice and Minnesota nice!!!!
Do you think you’ll be doing a video for Family Christmas Knife Fight or go straight to full feature film? I love the storytelling aspect. In all seriousness, are you thinking about videos? Your music oscillates between stories and strong imagery – like you sing in pictures.
HA! YES! We will absolutely shoot “Family Christmas Knife fight” at some point. Glad you like the song, Ann! It speaks to every holiday gathering I’ve ever attended. Patrik, the albums producer, describes some of my lyrics as “cinematic”.
My first video, coming out when my press agent Krista says so (but soon) will be for the song “The Safening”. Its one of those tunes with the “strong imagery” you spoke of. I enlisted creative firebrand power couple Brianna Tagg and Kurt Jorgensen to produce it. I asked them to choose a song that they would be excited to shoot. So Kurt dragged my hatless body out to Como Park to shoot it during this year’s first snowfall. Brianna and I finished it by tossing logs into a firepit in my yard!
When are you playing next? Can you tell us a little bit about the folks who will be playing with you?
Our album release show is Friday, January 20th, at Icehouse MPLS. I am joined by some of my favorite players. The band features Patrik Tanner on guitar and harmony vocals, who produced the album and played many of the instruments. (Tina & The Bsides, Martin Zellar, PT and The Faraway Men). On Drums, my favorite drummer on earth – Noah Levy (The Picadors, The Honeydogs, Five for Fighting, Brian Setzer Orchestra, The BoDeans, Intoxicats, and he just finished a European Soul Asylum tour … the list is endless for Noah.) Also on guitar is Kent Militzer (Big Mambo, The Magnolias, The Luminarios, Idiot Savant, ELnO ) and percussionist Doug Christianson (The Big Wu, Frogleg, Bourdebela, PG-13, Slippery People – our 10 piece Talking Heads Tribute)
Patrik Tanner will start the night at 8pm, featuring songs from his new album, “Becoming The Sea”