Andrew Foreman and Ben Knurr

By Emily Howland

The Mac Weekly: What kind of band are you in?Andrew Foreman: We do instrumental jazz and funk on our own with another piano player, but our main thing is with Loe and the Nasty’s.

Ben Knurr: I joined that group in summer of ’06 and Loe finally moved to California this past summer, so [the band] lasted two years.

TMW: What instruments do you each play?

B: I’m the drummer.

A: I play the rubber chicken. And the bass.

B: I’ve played cow bell on occasion.

A: Sometimes we have a little Latin fiesta whistle.

TMW: How many total in the band?

A: Loe, us, and this guy Zach who is a professional jazz musician in the Twin Cities.

B: Loe is kind of a separate entity, but Foreman, Zach and myself are one entity.

A: She has the gift of writing really unique stuff. With any artist it takes other people to make sense of it. That is our job. We turn it into tunes.

TMW: Does she write the songs?

B: She writes a song on guitar or piano, and then she comes in and plays it for us and Foreman picks up the cords and goes along with a groove he likes and I like and we ask her if that’s what she wanted. She guides us, but ultimately it becomes our decision.

A: This band, we’re definitely about the process rather than the product. It’s way more about making something together than it is about having a final product so our songs change over time.

TMW:Have you been very influenced by her style?

A: We all bring something to the table. The cool thing is our music is such a mix that jazz heads love it, the hip hoppers love it, indie-rock kids love it, and even single 45-year old mothers on MySpace love it. That gives us a lot of exposure.

TMW: What is the genre of your music?

A: If you put Erykah Badu and Norah Jones and Feist in a martini shaker, that’s how I think of it. Some of our stuff is really funky and groove oriented and some of it’s really acoustic and mellow. It’s all got a pretty fat beat behind it.

TMW: Who are you most influenced by?

A: I’m definitely influenced by hip-hop, big time. Like Twin Cities hip-hop, the Roots, Brother Ali. We both grew up listening to grunge rock.

B: Yeah, I’m still a huge Ozzy and Alison James and Black Sabbath tool.

A: We mix it together and it turns out pretty fly.

TMW: What is the best part about putting on shows?

A: Gin and tonics.

TMW: Before or after the show?

B: During. Usually you play the first set, and then get a drink on your set break and keep it with you for the next set. If you finished it maybe get a second one for the third set and then call it good because you’ve still got to drive home.

A: I think the best part is probably when you look out and see people feeling your music. It’s rewarding on a very spiritual level.

B: Yeah it’s nice to get paid and get free drinks, but the best part is when people come up and say “can I buy your CD,” or just seeing people grooving.

A: Like we were talking about fat beat, sometimes you see people and they can’t help but nod their heads.

TMW: Do you have groupies?

A: I’m a liberal arts student. I don’t have time for groupies. [Laughs] We do have an okay following. We played at the Dakota this summer and we brought about 75 people.

TMW: Tell me about the Dakota.

A: Both the Dakota and the Artist Quarter are the two big premier jazz clubs in the Twin Cities.

A: We’ve had people say that the Dakota is nicer than any club in Chicago. It’s super nice and accessible. Super hip. It’s classy but not elitist at all.

B: They bring in world class acts all the time.

TMW: How often do you put on shows?

A: In our heyday we were gigging two to four times a week.

B: There was a stretch where we were playing every Monday night at Rossi’s Blue Star Room.

TMW: How much do you make in a night?

B: Anywhere from the tips in a coffee jar to $400. If you play at a coffee house they just put out a coffee jar. If you’re at the Dakota they give you a chunk.

B: It’s like free coffee and twenty bucks or $300 and a nice dinner? I think I’ll take the dinner.

TMW: How was it balancing shows and school?

A: Really hard.

B: Yeah, it’s a little tough. I’m a chemistry major, which means 8:30 classes. There would be nights when I would be like “I need to go, I need to go, I have class in five hours.” And Loe is like I’m gonna go schmooze with this club owner and I’m like, “I’m gonna see you later.”

A: Both of us are the type that would cut out sleep before cutting out things we’re passionate about.

B: It’s kind of the way [dealing with] other things and Mac life works. If something needs to get done it will get done. It may take some sacrifices but it’ll get done.

TMW: Where is your upcoming show?

B: It’s at the Dakota. November first at 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

TMW: What are you playing?

A: We recorded a new album and one’s in the process. It’s a CD release party. So we’ll play all of that.

B: And a few things off the first album. And probably some jazz standards that are really cool.

A: We do funk hip-hop infused jazz standards. Ben puts a really fat beat behind it.

B: Or we lightly Latin it.

A: It’s like seasoning.

TMW: How many people do you anticipate coming?

A: They might extend the room because we flat out packed it in July when there were no Macalester kids around.

B: And we haven’t played in a while.

A: It’s going to be pretty damn ridiculous. Upwards of 100 people I’m sure. Mac kids want to get out. And plus it’s Saturday night. You can catch a bus home until 3 a.m. in the morning from downtown Minneapolis.

TMW: Do you have a record deal?

A: We did [this album] independently. We had offers from Artist and Repertoire reps-people who go search for bigger labels, but Loe is kind of anti-establishment.

TMW: Would you want to make a big record deal?

B: It’s kind of a dream.

A: Yeah, I’d say it’s a dream. I would do it for sure. A lot of bands honeymoon on it because it sounds really cool, but really record companies are providing less and less for musicians these days so it’s not as worth it to be signed. With the advent of MySpace and things like that you can promote your music yourself and get responses.

TMW: Now that Loe is gone what are you going to do?

A: Cry. No, we just got a call for a gig today.

B: We both play in the jazz band, we’re both in a combo, I play in the wind ensemble and the orchestra.

TMW: How do you have time for all of that?

B: You go to parties, I play gigs.