Three years ago, Minneapolis-based frontman Jesse Baxter, guitarist Jeff Meyers, bassist Steve Fregard, and drummer Tim Torabpour had a band. What they didn’t have was a name.
Idea after idea was proposed, then thrown out. The ones they agreed on were already taken. Exasperated, Meyers told a female friend that he couldn’t wait for when they landed on a band name. “How about When We Land?” she suggested. No debate necessary.
If naming the band was tough for the young foursome, finding their groove was not. Their debut album, Introvert’s Plight, is a hook-packed indie-pop experience. Think Maroon 5 with more melancholy and less relationship drama. We chatted with Baxter ahead of When We Land’s album release show tonight at the Turf Club.
City Pages: What is the “introvert’s plight” referred to in your album title?
Jesse Baxter: It started with the idea of wanting to know others well and to be known. It’s a powerful idea and something that I think everyone can struggle with, but I think it definitely applies to people who are more introverted. Overall, it’s just the idea of not being afraid to show who you really are and not be afraid of how people will react. Not being too guarded, I guess.
CP: It’s interesting that you gravitated toward a frontman role and performing in front of people despite being an introvert. How do you reconcile that?
JB: I don’t like having to come up with witty banter on the spot. The unrehearsed things are tough. But I feel at ease when I’m in a musical environment. It’s almost like a safety net for me. I can relax with it and let myself go with the music. It’s less about me and more about the music.
CP: What are the personalities of your bandmates? What role does each play in the group dynamic?
JB: Tim is definitely the most extroverted of the group. He’ll be really straightforward and let everybody know what’s on his mind. The rest of us are all a bunch of introverts. Jeff always wants to come up with the perfect guitar part. He’ll play something and we all will think it’s good but he thinks it’s garbage and wants to keep at it. Steve is the most low-key of the group. He’s the glue that keeps us all together. It’s impossible not to like Steve. I’ll go with the flow but I have a vision and bring up ideas to the group, too. I’m an introverted leader.
CP: There’s a line on “Take Me Back Again” that goes, “Do you think it’s a problem that I’ll never love another one quite like I love me?” Where did that come from?
JB: That song is kind of a reference to Narcissus. To a certain extent, as other-focused as I try to be, it’s hard not to [make it all] about yourself. Being newly married with a young son, a lot of my life right now revolves around our family. You can get caught up in this American way of “It’s all about being a family unit.” There’s some political stuff in there, too. I feel like we’re more self-focused now than we have been in the past. I don’t like that.
CP: Did becoming a father change your songwriting? Are you more in touch with your emotions now?
JB: It definitely changed some things. I’m a little more in tune with my emotions. Things carry a different weight. Some things that were super important before aren’t so much anymore. Some things that weren’t important maybe are now.
CP: Who is the female vocalist on “Come Home” and why did you decide to bring her in on that track?
JB: That’s my wife, Porcia. She’s got an awesome voice. Porcia wrote the lyrics on that song and I wrote the melodies on it. We were performing just the two of us at first. It was more of an acoustic vibe to it. I just loved it so much that I wanted to find a way to reimagine it and bring it on the record.
CP: What is it like being in a relationship with another musician? Does your creativity feed off one another?
JB: It’s great. I think at some point, the goal’s to put out an album together, too. For me, the musical side comes a lot more naturally. Lyrics, I have to meditate over for a while to say what I need to say. For Porcia, her strength is lyrics. She can come up with things very quickly and I always love it.
When We Land
With: Maple & Beech, Ben Noble
Where: Turf Club
When: 7 p.m. Fri. Jan. 12
Tickets: $8 / $10; more info here