Hennepin County Millionaires Club had a debut album all finished up that morphed into an album dedicated to the loss of their friend and bandmate, Johnny Becker.
All in all, HCMC sound like a fun band. The seventeen tracks on the album “In Loving Memory of Johnny Becker, ” rock, jazz and mix it up. Horns, great basslines, and some cool guitar and keyboards mixed in.
Their sound, live show, and determination to keep rolling on, has endeared them to their fans. Those fans flocked to Riftmagazine.com to make HCMC finalists in the Rift 100 Days of Music.
Rift: How did you come up with the name Hennepin County Millionaires Club?
HCMC: “A number of the guys in the band grew up in Edina.” That right there, the instant mental reaction (often verbal) that an incredible amount of people have to that statement is what inspired the name.
It doesn’t matter where you go or who you talk to, but you really can’t say you’re from Edina without receiving some comment back. Whether it’s “ohhhhh, Edina,” the timeless classic “cake eaters!”, or something as verbally creative as “rich bitches,” it’s always there, like clockwork, and rarely a positive (or even neutral) response.
Yes, we are aware that stereotypes are nothing new and this is not a unique situation. So this is by no means a complaint. It’s just a humorous observation that some of us relate. The fascinating and comical part is just how predictable it is, no matter the interaction. The times I cherish are when the reaction involves some remark about how close-minded everyone is – because nothing says close-minded like labeling an entire population as being close-minded.
Anyways, we wanted to find a way to poke fun at the apparent need to verbally express 100% dedication to a stereotype. During this discussion/brainstorming session, our buddy Mustache Tony threw out “Hennepin County Millionaires Club, ” and we thought it was perfect.
Rift: What is the driving force for making music for the band?
HCMC: When you find something that gives you pleasure and makes you happy, you want to keep doing that thing. For us, that happens to be making music with each other. We’re extremely lucky to all be friends, which makes the making music part a lot easier. It’s the perfect excuse to spend time together and be productive at the same time.
On the other end, the feeling that you get when you see other people who are positively affected by anything that you do, in our case music, is a major driving force as well. If you are knowingly making other people happy, especially with something you’ve created, why stop?
On top of those heart-touching and tear-inducing sentiments, making music is just fun as hell!
Rift: You did a pretty good job attracting people to your 100 days of Local Music post, do you have a social media system or is it just thrown all out there?
HCMC: We just use the tried-and-true methods laid out for us by demigod M. Zuckerberg and the rest of those greased-up Silicon Valley, baby-faced genius tycoons.
But for real, I think we are just very lucky to have an extremely supportive group of people that happen to enjoy coming to our shows and listening to our music. (It also helps to tease an album release for two years before releasing anything from it.)
I was surprised to see the response that we did get from the 100 Days of Local Music, so thank you for the platform!!
Rift: The loss of Johnny Becker, had an immediate impact on the local scene and we had written about it, in another post about the band The Gated Community. Was rolling on and dedicating the new album to him important to all of you?
HCMC: This was a complete and utter tragedy, and I feel this loss every single day. There’s no other way to describe it.
Johnny and I became instant friends the first time we met. I was 15 then, and I’m 31 now. Throughout that time, the music that we wrote and created together never had an end in sight. We always had plans to do, make, and achieve more. The mutual inspiration, respect, and creative expression that I was able to share with Johnny are irreplaceable.
“Rolling on” and progressing as a band after this tragedy was an extremely hard thing to do but an easy decision to make. We had to face the fact that we’re a different band now – we sound different, we act differently, we think differently, the things we appreciate and value are different, and it’s all completely out of our control.
The progress we made and the hard work we put in as a band before Johnny’s passing needed to continue, two-fold. We aren’t anywhere near done creating and truly feel as though this is the beginning stage. We all know that Johnny shared this mindset, and giving up and quitting would have been the absolute last thing he would have wanted. Carrying on is not only allowing us to make new music and play more shows, but it’s the best way possible, in my mind, to honor our dear friend.
Our album was originally going to be self-titled and have ten songs on it. We were finishing up the artwork and layout the day before Johnny passed. In the following days of complete confusion, sadness, anger, every single emotion that one can experience, adding the other seven songs and dedicating the album to Johnny was the only thing that made sense.
It’s an amazing thing that we’re able to have that documented collection of music with our friend. It’s amazing that we can hear his voice anytime we want.
Rift: With the horns and everything, does somebody write out the arrangement or is it just a jam and everyone write their own parts? How does that writing process work?
HCMC: Honestly, we hardly jam at all. Typically the songs are already written, horn parts and all. The song is brought to practice where we may work out some additional harmonies, slightly adjust parts and song structure, other things like that. Then it’s just trying to solidify our performance of it.
Rift: Is there a manager type in the band, that handles booking etc. Or is it a group effort?
HCMC: There aren’t any official roles or titles like that in the band. I suppose I end up taking on a lot of the duties when it comes to coordinating schedules, booking, and all that sort of thing, but everyone tends to keep their ear to the ground for potential shows and other opportunities.
RIFT: What are some the band’s favorite venues, other bands and things you like about the local scene?
HCMC: I guess we like anywhere that lets us play! I think some of our fondest show memories thus far have been Icehouse, Nomad, Eagles Club, and of course the Minnesota RollerGirls half-time show. One of my personal favorite places to play in town is the Turf Club so it’d be great to get HCMC over there.
The Minnesota music scene has proven to be very incestual. I love being able to go to shows and seeing people, that I know and play with, perform in a wide range of projects. It gives you a different perspective on not just all the music that’s so easily accessible around here but also affects the way you value the abilities, preferences, and achievements of the people you play with. Also, there’s so much crossover in people who come out to the shows just because they enjoy live music. You have the unique opportunity to meet and get to know people that you otherwise would never cross paths with.
Rift: What does the future hold for HCMC, over the next year?
HCMC: All I can tell you is what we will strive to achieve – We will continue writing and recording lots of new music because, ya know, we gotta express ourselves, man. We also plan to be more vigilant in the frequency in which we are booking and playing shows (hit us up!). We feel we’ve dropped the ball in that department over the last couple of years, whatever the excuse, and we plan to remedy that. We just want to get out there more and make more people happy; it’s a bit of self-indulgence too because we want more excuses to play music together.
Rift: If you had one piece of advice about anything at all, what would it be?
HCMC: Over the past few months, time has taken on a new meaning for us all. Tragedy has certainly shed new light on the things we value and unknowingly (and knowingly) take for granted. Life’s completely unpredictable so give every moment to the people and things that you love. This isn’t permanent. Hug your loved ones and don’t wait until tomorrow to tell them what they mean to you. Tell them now.