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The Counterfactuals, Groll tells all

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An interview with Carleton Philosophy professor and member of the band, Daniel Groll. The Counterfactuals will play tomorrow at Spring Concert.

TG: So you guys have played at Spring Concert before, right?

DG: Yeah, we played… two years ago? We played the Smash Mouth concert.

TG: And I’m not sure of the details – how did the band form exactly?

DG: The very first incarnation of the band was a group of my friends in Chicago in a living room. Then, I stole the name and brought it to Northfield, and we really we got going as a duo with Jason Decker, also a philosophy professor. Then we added Mike Fuerstein who is a philosophy professor at St. Olaf on drums. He’s actually a saxophone player and hadn’t played drums before joining the band. Then Martha Larson, who is the head of sustainability at Carleton, played bass with us for eight months, but then she wanted to do her own thing so Andy Flory, professor of music, joined.

TG: Now, you said you brought the name from Chicago, but the name Counterfactuals is a philosophical term, isn’t it?

DG: It is, but that’s just a coincidence. The people in Chicago, one was a philosophy grad student, but the other two weren’t, and they came up with the name. It actually was just a coincidence that the band ended up being three quarters philosophy professors.

TG: So you have one album, which is Minimally Decent People, and that came out a couple years ago?

DG: That came out in January of 2014.

TG: And according to your website you’ve got another one coming out eventually, and the single has already been released, which is Might As Well Join In. Do you have a guess of when the rest of the album might come out?

DG: I’m guessing early 2016.

TG: So will we be hearing some of the tracks other than the released single at Spring Concert?

DG: Oh yeah, I was just putting together the set list and about one half to three quarters of it will be new stuff.

TG: Will it be your first time playing some of the new stuff, then?

DG: No, we’ve been playing it for ages. It’s a funny parallel between the way we do music and academia. When we write a paper in academia, you finish it, and then, if it gets published, it gets published in some cases years after you’re done writing it. Not totally dissimilar to the time between when I write a song and when it gets put on the record.

TG: Do you guys feel like being a bunch of professors somehow informs the music in anyway? Is there anything about it that is uniquely professorial?

DG: I don’t think so. It’s a delicate balance. The name unintentionally, but obviously, makes people think immediately, “oh, a bunch of professors!” To some extent we embrace that. We know people will give us a listen because of the quirkiness of the band’s composition. But the music itself isn’t. Every once in a while, someone will go “look at the lyrics,” and they’ll find stuff in there and we say, “Uh, okay. Sure.”

TG: But it’s not conscious, at the very least?

DG: No, definitely not.

TG: Is there a student band over the years you have particularly enjoyed?

DG: I think all of us really like Prom Queef. You ever hear them? They were great – I like them a lot.

TG: Anything else you want to mention?

DG: We’re very very excited to play. For us, it’s the biggest crowd we’ve ever played for. 

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