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An Interview with Sierra Kusterbeck of VersaEmerge

Author: Chuck November 21st, 2010

Editors Note: We first caught VersaEmerge at the 2010 Warped Tour held at Canterbury Park back in August.  They certainly captured our rock imaginations at the time, and when we found out they were returning to the Twin Cities this month in support of their latest album Fixed at Zero, we decided to track down lead singer Sierra Kusterbeck for a first-hand account of what is going on with band the behind the scenes.



Sierra Klusterbeck An Interview with Sierra Kusterbeck of VersaEmerge

Sierra Kusterbeck of VersaEmerge

Chuck Pittman: How did you guys become a band?

Sierra Kusterbeck: VersaEmerge was a band before I started.  The genre was a lot harder.  They lost their vocalist and they were having auditions.  I found them through MySpace and for some reason I just felt like I needed to do this.  My mother helped me make a demo (and) they liked it and it ended up working out.  I left school and started writing music for them.

Chuck: Was singing a part of your education or was it on the side?

Sierra: I went to art elementary/middle and high school.  They were all kind of connected with each other.  I majored in musical theater.

Chuck: How did VersaEmerge become your bands name?

Sierra: Blake (Harnage) came up with it.  They were in the middle of changing band members.  “Versa” as in vice versa, “Emerge” to rise.  The opposite, but to change – kind of like an exploding word in an action.

Chuck: Your about half way through your first headlining tour.  What has been your favorite venue so far and why?

Sierra: The first day in Dallas, The Loft.  It was just so magical, (but) every night is magical.  I just love that place.

Chuck: What made it so magical?

Sierra:  It was the first night of our first headline tour ever and we didn’t know how it was going to go.  The kids were awesome.  It was the first time we ever had people singing the words so loud we couldn’t really even hear ourselves.  It was really cool.

Chuck: Your touring now with Anarbor.  How is it touring with those guys?


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posted November 21st, 2010 at 12:00 pm Interviews ,

An Interview with Skittish

Author: Todd October 8th, 2010

skittish1 300x200 An Interview with SkittishSkittish is a band that’s all about grandiose statements.  For their third album, Skittish are releasing a double-album titled “The Perfect Shade of Green” on October 22 at Station 4 in St. Paul, MN.  I recently had a chance to sit down and catch up with Jeff about all things Skittish.

Todd Millenacker: Why a double album and why now?

Jeff Noller: Well, I had a single album all planned out. With my new home studio I was going to record it myself and get it out there and start touring immediately. But I had some drastic life changes and decided to add a second half to the album. A darker, more experimental side to the rock based first half.  I also wanted the artistic challenge of weaving themes and ideas back and forth between the two sides of the album.

Plus, I’ve always loved albums. Sergeant Peppers, Graceland, stuff that has a feel and flow through every song. A complete piece of art. And in this day of downloading singles and quantity of content produced, not quality, it seems like the album is dying. Its fun and delightfully self-sabotaging to do the exact opposite of what ‘industry experts’ are saying. I still have plenty of “fuck you!” left in me from college.

Todd: Did you find it hard to come up with enough quality material?

Jeff: Well, after our last record, I had a pretty hefty case of writer’s block that lasted about a year. I ended up having to go to Nashville to cure it. On the way back I wrote the entirety of ‘Keep Driving’ off the new record, and for the next four months or so, the songs just came hemorrhaging out of me. The thing about writer’s block is that you’re still writing stuff, it all just sounds like crap to you. There are actually a couple pieces of songs I wrote during that dark time that I came back to and thought, “hmmm, this isn’t so bad” and popped them into songs on the album. If you just keep the antenna up long enough, eventually you’ll get filled up and the creative sap will have to flow out somewhere.

0 An Interview with Skittish

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posted October 8th, 2010 at 8:00 am Interviews, MN Rock , , ,

A Farewell to Minneapolis Interview with Ari Herstand: Part 6

Author: Mike August 12th, 2010

ari varsity1 A Farewell to Minneapolis Interview with Ari Herstand: Part 6

Editor’s Note: The only thing really left to hear about from Ari Herstand at this point is what’s going to happen tonight at The Varsity Theater. In the sixth and final part of Ari’s farewell interview series, he tells us what to expect from what will surely be another night worth remembering for a long time. Read part 5 here.

Mike: So we’ve got the farewell show coming, August 12th, The Varsity Theater. You’ve got a killer lineup; literally a lot of my favorite local bands who are also a lot of your favorite local bands are playing this. Can you tell me what to expect?

Ari: Going into this show, I knew that it wasn’t going to be a proper farewell to Minneapolis without The Varsity Theater—where it all started and where it’s all been for me over the last 5 years—and all my favorite bands on the bill and all my friends bands; who are my favorite bands. That’s what it came down to.

readygoes A Farewell to Minneapolis Interview with Ari Herstand: Part 6
ReadyGoes

ReadyGoes hasn’t been around as long as the other bands, but they’ve definitely found their place in the Minneapolis music community and they’re a phenomenal band. They also put on an incredible live show. Getting them, Roster McCabe, White Light Riot, The Alarmists; those were the first bands I locked in. These are my closest friends and these are some of my favorite bands, let’s lock them in and they all agreed.

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posted August 12th, 2010 at 12:30 pm Interviews, MN Rock

A Farewell to Minneapolis Interview with Ari Herstand: Part 5

Author: Mike August 12th, 2010

ari cornstock1 A Farewell to Minneapolis Interview with Ari Herstand: Part 5

Editor’s Note: I’ve seen numerous incredible shows in this town and beyond, and Ari Herstand has been either in attendance at or on stage during more than just a few of those. In part 5 of Ari’s farewell interview series, he tells us about a few of his favorite shows he’s been a part of as a Minneapolis artist. Read part 4 here.

Mike: You’ve made a lot of memories in Minneapolis. If you could tell me about a few of your favorite shows you’ve been a part of here that’d be great.

unknownorder A Farewell to Minneapolis Interview with Ari Herstand: Part 5

Ari: Some of my favorite Minneapolis shows… I think my favorite Minneapolis show hands down is “The Unknown Order”, November ’07. I had the conception for this show that summer when White Light Riot and The Alarmists were both releasing their new albums and I got to know both of those groups fairly well. I played trumpet with White Light Riot at both of those shows. I got to know This World Fair very well as well. These were three of my favorite bands locally. We all had pretty good draws; White Light Riot and The Alarmists, they were at their peaks really. White Light Riot drew a thousand people to their CD release and The Alarmists drew like 700+ to their First Ave release. I wasn’t drawing those numbers, but I had a pretty significant draw and This World Fair did too. So I was like, let’s bring four bands who all have good draws, and let’s put it in a venue we love, The Varsity Theater. It definitely won’t be able to hold all the people that will want to come to this, but that will be part of the elusive nature of this experience.

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posted August 12th, 2010 at 11:24 am Interviews, MN Rock

A Farewell to Minneapolis Interview with Ari Herstand: Part 4

Author: Mike August 12th, 2010

ari shades A Farewell to Minneapolis Interview with Ari Herstand: Part 4

Editor’s Note: No artist moves without at least some sort of plan in mind. In part 4 of this farewell interview with Ari Herstand, Ari tells us exactly why he’s leaving Minneapolis for Los Angeles. Read part 3 here.

Mike: With the big move to California, you’ve got a lot in store out there. You’ve probably made plenty of connections already, but tell me a little bit of what you’ve got in store for your future heading out to LA, and really making the “Ari Herstand” brand expand there.

Ari: I feel like where I’m at as a musician, as an artist, that I need to find new challenges. I’ve expressed my love for Minneapolis music at length, and I now feel completely comfortable with all these musicians here—which is great—but I need new challenges. I want to find a community that hones in on what I’m doing; my kind of music. It’s taken me 5-6 years to figure out what kind of music I am doing, and I’m still figuring that out.

ari varsity6 A Farewell to Minneapolis Interview with Ari Herstand: Part 4

But I feel I’m as close as ever right now to developing my sound, and I need to surround myself with other musicians that have similar intentions and similar musical styles as I do. As much as I love White Light Riot, it’s pretty far from the style of music that I’m creating. So as much as I love those guys and their music, I want to surround myself with other singer/songwriters that challenge me as a songwriter and an artist. Who push me to become better, to become great. And not saying that people here don’t push me. The diversity here in the Minneapolis community is the reason that I have grown into the musician and songwriter that I am.

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posted August 12th, 2010 at 10:17 am Interviews, MN Rock

A Farewell to Minneapolis Interview with Ari Herstand: Part 3

Author: Mike August 12th, 2010

ari warehouse A Farewell to Minneapolis Interview with Ari Herstand: Part 3

Editor’s Note: Being an established Wisconsin-to-Minnesota-to-California singer/songwriter is one thing, but even before he started performing out on his own Ari Herstand was (and still is) arguably one of the biggest fans of Twin Cities music. In part 3 of his farewell interview, Ari talks about the local bands he loves and the numerous musicians he’s gotten to know and work with over the years. Read part 2 here.

Mike: You’ve also worked with quite an all-star cast of musicians in this town. Some of the names that come to mind, like members from bands like Roster McCabe, White Light Riot, This World Fair; you’ve had pretty much the entirety of This World Fair as your backing band at times. So if you could just tell me about some of the other bands in this town, whether it’s working with them, being friends with them, knowing them, or even having them perform with you in your band.

Ari: My absolute favorite part about being in Minneapolis over the last 7 years has been the local music community. Before I was even performing out, my freshman year of college I attended as many local music shows as I could. I would go out sometimes 4-to-5 nights a week on my own to different venues around Minneapolis just to see music. I didn’t have an agenda; I just showed up because I knew that they had music and I’d see whomever was playing. I continued this for a couple years. There was a time—like ’03 through ’06—where really for a good 3 years or so where when I wasn’t performing, I went out and saw music and when I found bands that I loved—that I really got into—I started following them.

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posted August 12th, 2010 at 9:06 am Interviews, MN Rock