When you think dirty blues, rock ’n’ roll and homemade liquor, Minnesota probably doesn’t come to mind. But what few outside the Northern Plains know is that when Old Man Winter rolls in, the people retreat below ground to the warmth and safety of their basement lairs. They tinker; they toil; they develop means of entertainment few south of Iowa can understand. Maybe it’s the cabin fever, the lack of sunlight, or the daily reminder that simply the outdoors can kill you, but those long months of seclusion can leave a peculiar imprint on the mind. It was in such an underground laboratory in 2009 that Liquor Beats Winter was born.
None of the four members had ever played music together nor could they necessarily agree on what kind of music was to be played. Influences ranged from Howlin’ Wolf to Lil Wayne, Bad Brains to The Stooges, Tom Waits to Cows, but what could be made of that? What fermentation formula, what distillation recipe, could make a palatable grog from such disparate grains?
What they discovered was an antifreeze so potent it could lure even the meekest of fortitudes to venture forth on those glacial Minnesota nights. Dave Pagel lays down beats like a master craftsman lays stone — so seamlessly fitted they can be easily overlooked, while Cheetah rolls bass lines the way a grifter rolls Canadian tourists on the Vegas Strip. You know what just happened to you, but you enjoyed it anway. Guitarist Matt Broeren slices riffs in and out of the rhythm section with the precision of a surgeon, albeit, possibly a mad one. And that demon riding this elephant through the homecoming parade, trumpet in one hand, harmonica in the other, is one David C. Steffens. With a line up like that, the band’s sound conforms to no genre, no simple taste profile to which publicists and internet “journalists” can pigeonhole them, unless music that makes you have a damn good time is now a niche market.
Liquor Beats Winter’s second album, and first long-playing record, Lost in the Sauce, is a concoction of equal parts punk pandemonium and boozy blues that delivers rock ’n’ roll straight to the central nervous system. Coming out in August on Kansas City record label cooperative, Black Site, Lost in the Sauce is the elixir to cure ailments you didn’t even know you had.
Liquor Beats Winter released its self-titled debut album in May 2014 and the split 7″, 4-Way Freakout!, with Fuck Knights, Fret Rattles and Leather Sweater later that same year. The band can be found mongering their unique spirits everywhere from dirty basements to Nordic halls to rock and roll clubs — any place the hardy gather to stave off the cold and remind themselves that Spring WILL BE HERE SOON!
L. Ron Drunkard