After 2014’s full-length effort, Voir Dire, the Chicago, IL-born and-based members of Minor Characters, the trio of long-time friends and schoolmates Andrew Pelletier (guitar, vocals), Shelby Pollard (guitar) and Thomas Benko (drums) felt a collective sense profound angst and confusion that almost broke the band up. “Getting that out was such a stressful moment in all of our lives that I think the band kind of imploded and deflated because of it,” the band’s Andrew Pelletier recalls in press notes. “We weren’t playing anymore and we decided to take a number of months off. In that interim, I did a little bit of traveling.”
Coincidentally, Pelletier’s traveling primarily took place during 2016, arguably one of the most politically contentious periods in at least 50 years, and naturally those trips criss-crossing the States and to Asia wound up influencing the Chicago-based band’s frontman, who eventually wrote a series of deeply personal vignettes focusing on his observations on the sociopolitical moment and thoughts but paired with sardonic reflections on the band’s health; but reportedly underneath it all, is a desire that many of us have felt — a desire to pack up your shit and leave for a while, despite the fact that American culture is inescapable. There’s literally a Starbucks or a McDonald’s on every corner with minor regional and cultural differences on the menu and an episode of Law & Order on TV.
As Pelletier says in press notes, “The insanity of the current government would be…I wouldn’t call it a source of inspiration, but certainly a source of disillusionment turned into inspiration. There are many things in my life that I put off,” the band’s frontman adds on a more personal note, “one of them being travel, especially to Asia because I’ve always wanted to go to Asia, and then also being in a relationship I put off for many, may years.” After his travels, Pelletier reconvened with his bandmates Pollard and Benko, along with Joe Meland (piano, string arrangements) and a series of collaborators at SHIRK Studios, where instead of a breakneck recording sessions, the band allowed the songs to morph with every recorded iteration, which would give each individual version a unique life. As the band’s Pollard says, “We’re doing string arrangements on this record, horn arrangements, there’s organ. There’s all of these components that, because we gave ourselves such unlimited amount of time to focus on, ‘Is this song ready?’ we were really able to figure out what each track needed individually and then it just so happens that it fits together.”The end result is the band’s forthcoming album We Can’t Be Wrong, which is slated for an April 6, 2018 release — and while the album’s latest single “Pimps of Freedom (Whores of D.C.)” will remind some listeners of The Bends-era Radiohead and JOVM mainstays Husky, possesses a breathless and bristling sense of outrage, as the song thematically focuses on the crony capitalists in DC deregulating then dismantling the government and handing it over to make money. “Vulnerable people’s lives are in their hands, and they’re passing handouts to the wealthiest of us, rather than the neediest. It’s whorish and abhorrent. But at the end of the day, it’s all so fucking entertaining. I can’t stop tuning in. All day long. Everyone I know can’t stop watching this madness. And what am I actually doing about it? Nothing. But this generation is turned up, and so we have to push back anyway we can. It’s a monstrous, captivating live television show, and it’s in full fucking high-definition.” With this song, the Chicago-based band has managed to put into words, the seemingly futile horror and anger that many of us have felt on a regular basis, while gently attempting to rouse the listener out of the doldrums, to get up from the couch, to put the phone down and do something.