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The Carletonian

The Counterfactuals Debuts First Album

<unterfactuals, a Carleton and St. Olaf faculty-composed band, released its first album last month. Minimally Decent People has garnered praise in several professional music reviews and represents a landmark event for the thriving musical group at Carleton.

Formed in 2010, The Counterfactuals has performed in several venues on campus, as well as in and around the Northfield area. On campus, they’ve performed at both the Cave and at Spring Concert, much to the enjoyment of students.

Comprised of lead vocalist Daniel Groll, guitarist Jason Decker, bassist Andy Flory, and drummer Mike Fuerstein, the group is in no shortage of intellectual prowess. Both Groll and Decker are Philosophy professors at Carleton, Fuerstein is a Philosophy professor at St. Olaf, and Flory is a Music Professor at Carleton.

Lauded for its engaging style of Indie Rock, the band has been increasing its fan base over recent months. Says Groll: “[Our] music offers the combination of being catchy while also offering a decent amount of musical interest. There’s a fair amount of detail in the songs.”

With occasional saxophone solos, whistling parts, unusual chords, and unconventional time signatures, their music also exemplifies a sense of quirkiness, in both the writing and the recording. Full of compelling melodies and lead lines, their music is very accessible and easy to listen to. Says Groll: “If someone likes melodic pop, then they should like us.”

Groll is the primary songwriter for the group, but the group arranges the songs collectively. Each member of the band comes from a unique musical background. As a music professor, Flory has the most academic training: “I have studied a lot of classical music in my graduate work, but I focus mostly on rock and R&B in my research. […] I listen to classic R&B nearly every day.” Meanwhile, Groll has a lot of jazz experience as a drummer, and Fuerstein is an accomplished Jazz saxophonist. These different musical perspectives provide a special confluence to the group.

Because he teaches courses on rock music, Flory finds the performance process particularly enriching: “I learn things about the performance process every time we get together. I also learn more about the local Twin Cities scene as we navigate promotional opportunities that have arisen as people become interested in what we do.”

As a source of inspiration, a picture of Miles Davis purportedly adorns the group’s rehearsal space.

Their music has been especially popular on campus and around Northfield. Says Flory: “Students, colleagues, staff members, and community members all come to our shows and listen to our music. It’s a real Northfield experience.”

For a group whose initial goal was just to get played on The Local Show on The Current, The Counterfactuals has come a long way and exceeded even their own expectations and modest ambitions. According to Groll, their music was featured on The Current after putting up a demo in 2011.

Groll cites several long-term interests for the band. Eventually, they wish to plan a second record. They also wish to attract a fan base outside of Minnesota. Says Groll, “we would love to do a mini, regional tour to places like Madison, Chicago, Milwaukee” and perhaps more.

While the excitement in The Counterfactuals is high, Groll emphasized the importance of keeping things slow: “All of us are first and foremost committed to our jobs [as professors], which we all really love. So the band’s goals will always be constrained by that. Really, the thing that I think we’re most interested in is just getting the music to people’s ears.”

Minimally Decent People will be available on CD and LP (with digital download card) in the Carleton Bookstore next week.

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