If you’re into lyrical stories and some kick ass grooves, Soo Line Loons just might be the band for you. They fall under the Americana umbrella, but the band blends elements of folk, rock, punk, jam and just about everything else under the sun. Soo Line Loons take their name after a local railroad that runs Southeast through Minnesota. The band formed serendipitously in early 2019 when Grant Glad met Robin Hatterschide just before recording his first album. They soon brought in Matthew Fox on bass and Kristi Hatterschide, Robin’s mom and a former folk violinist, and Glad’s longtime friend and mandolin-playing songwriter, Erik Loftsgaarden.
The band is known for a great stage presence and producing a fun and creative environment for audience and band members alike. Last year the band was exploring opportunities to make new fans, playing regional street festivals and adding gigs to their calendar. They were gearing up to really begin spreading their wings when the pandemic hit. “It’s been rough,” said Glad. “It felt like the rug was swept up from under us, but we know we are some of the fortunate to have kept our day jobs, so we put our musical focus into recording this album. We were just writing the best possible song we could each time. I’m sure the state of world played into some of the anger felt on songs like, ‘Don’t Let Me Go’ or ‘Long Winter’ but we tried to make something for people to escape from the world for a little bit and not dwell on it too much.”
Soo Line Loons their eponymous third album, is self-released on their label, ‘Don’t Quit Your Day Job Records’ and will be available as a CD, Vinyl and in digital form. This is a much more collaborative effort for the band than their previous albums. “On the previous albums, I would write the songs and bring them to the band to flesh out,” explained Glad. “On this one we all wrote the songs in the room while we were rehearsing. This really helped to create the Loons sound and is why we decided on a self-titled album name. This is who we are and this is a pure representation of us that we hope serves as an introduction to new fans.”
“We put everything we had into every single second of this album,” adds Hatterschide. “Ups and downs, re-recordings and late-night mixing sessions, we came out of it with exactly what we wanted and even better than we expected.” “This album is for everyone,” Loftsgaarden chimes in. “There isn’t one certain demographic that can appreciate Loons sound. We try to get that across in the music.”
Kicking off the album is the haunting track “Old Mill”, a folky rock n’ roll murder ballad. “This was a fun one to write,” said Glad. “I just started with those chords you hear in the intro, and then Kristi came in with the violin and then drums, bass, and boom, we had a song. We didn’t know what it would be yet; we just knew it was dark. I even said, ‘Well, someone’s going to die in this song.’”
Saxophone lines weave throughout “Die Young”, a bluesy rock number that was written by Glad and Loftsgaarden. “Old School Blues up here in the North,” describes Hatterschide. “Opening with a classic Bernard Perdie drum beat, sweet keys, and a screaming guitar.”
The band brought in several guest players on this album, including local legend, Charlie Parr who plays slide guitar on the song, “Hope”. “Hope’ is frenetic from the first snare shot,” said Loftsgaarden. “The song speeds along at a raucous speed, threatening to lose control. Charlie Parr’s slide guitar brings it back down to earth, while the narrator laments the weight of bad decisions and how to make peace with being a flawed hero in a world that seems to demand perfection.”
The ending ballad, “Amen” has Glad ruminating on what we leave behind as a legacy. “Grant discusses the pressures of aging and following your dream while trying not to alienate everyone in your life at the same time,” explained Loftsgaarden. “The violin and mandolin are fitting additions, emphasizing the emotion of the storyline without overtaking Grant’s vocals.”
“We’re a working-class band for working-class people,” Glad states. “This is our craft, and we are proud of it, but you won’t see us wearing any funny hats or flashy outfits. We’d rather let the art speak for itself. If you like it, great, if you don’t, then that’s cool too.” Loftsgaarden adds, “Storytelling and the raw emotion of flawed heroes struggling to find their place in the world are key elements of our music.” Hatterschide describes the band’s music as “Folk to some and country to others. We like to think we’re bluesy ourselves.”
No matter the genre, the band, to quote their bio, “…has a characteristic tendency to transform misery into a unique form of lighthearted beauty.” Just take the line from “Can’t Stop Singing The Blues”: “That sun goes down in the evening./ Well, that sun, you know, is gonna rise.”
Soo Loo Lines hopes to bring people together and to feel less alone--a ray of light and musical relief in these contentious times.