Able Baker is an indie rock band-of-friends based out of Minneapolis, MN. Their latest release, Fall Through Sparks, was released earlier this year and the album features a collection of catchy sentimental ballads that will make you want to learn the lyrics just so you can sing along to them. Able Baker has a sound similar to Slow Hollows and other lyrically-driven tender indie bands; they’re like the token “slow” song on a pop-punk album, over and over again.
The band’s curator and frontman, Tim, chatted with me about the Minneapolis music scene, his biggest musical influences, and the process behind writing the band’s most recent release, Fall Through Sparks.
How did Able Baker start and how did you all meet?
I’ve been writing songs since before I was in high school, but started recording under the name Able Baker when I was a freshman in college. These recordings were mainly demos on Garageband that I mostly kept under wraps; I played a few solo shows around Eau Claire, WI– the city where I attended school at the time. In the summer of 2016, I put a band together that was comprised of my friends from my hometown– people I trust and have played with for a long time.
We cut the basic tracks of the record together at the end of that summer. I did a few day long sessions with my guitar player early this year and put the record out in April.
Very cool! Have you played any shows since forming the band?
We played a small handful of shows in Madison last summer. Speaking of which, we’ve got a little upper Midwest tour coming up in mid August. Mostly to play the record for my friends in those cities.
Sounds fun! Who would you say are your biggest musical influences?
We’re very excited! During the period in which those songs were written I was listening to a ton of the Smiths and the Cure– I was heavily into the Cure’s album Disintegration. I would say those bands along with Built to Spill and Elliott Smith and Bedhead are my core influences. I also had a Brian Wilson kick along with some Julia Holter.
That’s a pretty nice array of music!
I made a point to listen to a variety of music but usually gravitate toward guitary indie rock.
What are you listening to most these days?
The last kick I was on was this local band called Remo Drive. Double Grave is also a cool band from Minneapolis that I would check out. It changes daily but I’m mostly listening to Duster, the The New Year record that came out this year is gorgeous, Sharon Van Etten, some older Modest Mouse.
Double Grave is pretty good! Reminds me a little bit of old GRMLN.
They’re awesome people, too. One of the first shows I played in Minneapolis was with them. Oh nice, I need to check them out. I’m a huge Cloud Nothings fan, another Carpark band.
I’d like to hear a little bit about the new(ish) album. It looks like you wrote the lyrics for all of the songs?
Totally. Yes, for this project I wrote almost everything, with the exception of drums and bass, and bring in the band; they sort of fill in the spaces, make things more interesting. Some songs changed considerably during the latter recording sessions as we got to experiment with different keyboards and such. I obsessed over the lyric writing on the record– every word had to be perfect, it’s maybe not too decipherable sometimes but very personal. That was stressful and I’m taking a different approach for the next record.
What is your favorite song on Fall Through Sparks?
Mmm that’s tough. I was very attached to each of the songs, they meant various specific things to me. I’m really still attached to Nights You Spent and Sound Sweeter. It was cool because my friend Lauren from the band Idle Empress contributed vox on those two as well.
I love the song Nights You Spent. For some reason when I listen to it I imagine a crowd singing along to every word. And Lauren’s vocals are great touch as well.
Thank you so much! I think of it as the climax of the record, a big turning point– the end is supposed to be very cathartic and anthemic. Yes, I was so happy with what she did.
Where did the name “Fall Through Sparks” come from?
Fall Through Sparks comes from a lyric in track three, Real World. In that song it more literally refers to what I remembered as the feeling the first time I got high, eyes closed falling infinitely in a relaxed sort of manner.
In a more broad sense of the term, it’s sort of about being presented with a new situation or opportunity but letting this cloud your judgement or lead you astray. Jumping into something new and essentially failing, falling. That’s mostly what the album is about and how it applied to certain situations in my life.
I think almost everyone can relate to that feeling, and it’s hard to put words to.
What’s the music scene like in Minneapolis?
The music scene is pretty big, actually. It’s hard to put a finger on because from what I know there are several smaller scenes that intersect at various points. For instance, there’s a little college scene that sort of bleeds into the wider underground Minneapolis scene, bands that play on the college radio station, Radio K.
For the first year or so that I lived there I went to a few shows at a DIY house space and aside from a couple bigger shows at First Ave ect., that was it. I recently started playing guitar for a new band called Research and we’ve been playing some 21 plus venues that are all new to me. But there are a plenty of venues and so many bands, it’s pretty overwhelming at times.
Listen to Fall Through Sparks below:
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