Vinnie Donatelle of Friend Dog talks about opening for John Mayer, gigging with his new band, and The Last Revel's life-changing resurgence
Flip Rushmore is celebrating the release of their new EP, Choose Your Villains Wisely, at the 7th St Entry on Wed., Aug. 10. Friend Dog, comprised of Vinnie Donatelle, Lauren Anderson, and Nate LeBrun, is a featured guest on the bill. Vinnie, who spoke with us in 2021, got on the phone with Flip's Alex Smith for a follow-up interview as he balances between Friend Dog and his much more high-profile Americana trio, The Last Revel.
Alex: Alright, we need to talk about the John Mayer thing. The Last Revel is opening for him [Aug. 21] in Wyoming? I know you have a big following out there. How did the booking come together?
Vinnie: That was out of the blue. There’s a venue in Paradise Valley called Pine Creek Lodge, where the show is happening, that’s pretty near and dear to our hearts. We’ve hosted a couple mini music festivals out there. And Ryan [Acker, of The Last Revel] actually met his now-wife at Pine Creek.
The day after we played there this summer, there was some massive flooding along the Yellowstone River that destroyed a lot of property and basically closed West Yellowstone for the season, which really throws a wrench in the economy out there. All the folks who depend on that tourism are kinda SOL for the season again after getting beat up by COVID, too.
So John Mayer, who has a ranch out there, decided to put together this show and hit up our friend, Chip, who owns Pine Creek Lodge, and asked if he could set up a couple shows there to fundraise. Chip, of course, said, “of course,” [laughs] and that led to John Mayer’s team to say, “Ask two of of your favorite bands to play,” so Chip called Ryan.
Alex: I assume you knew you weren’t getting pranked because it was Chip calling you, but what was your reaction to the news?
Vinnie: Well, he tried to call us at like 2 in the morning, when we were driving home from a festival. And we were, like, dude, slow your role. We don’t know what this is about, but it can wait until tomorrow. So when Ryan talked to him the next day, we all just kind of froze and said, “that’s insane. There’s no way that’s actually happening.” But sure enough…
Alex: What kind of venue are we talking about? What’s the cap on that place?
I think it’s 1,000.
Alex: So pretty intimate for something like that.
Vinnie: Yeah, and 1,000 is a lot of people in that space. We played to 500 or 600 people before. That felt really packed. It’s basically a small little resort with a nice kitchen that has a bunch of storage container rooms surrounding a stage. People rent out these cabins if they want, or just drive up to the shows. That’s the gist of it.
Lazenlow discusses new album, forthcoming wedding, and performing dark indie pop for children ahead of 7th St Entry debut
Flip Rushmore is celebrating the release of their new EP, Choose Your Villains Wisely, at the 7th St Entry on Wed., Aug. 10. Lazenlow, comprised of Gillian Needham, Mike "Ghost Channels" Ryerse, and Mo Bluntz, is a featured guest on the bill. Gillian and Mike got on the phone with Flip's Alex Smith to discuss Lazenlow's Entry debut and much more.
Alex: I’ve seen allusions to an album being mixed.
Mike: I’m in the finishing process. Which many know: five percent finishing takes 95 percent of the time. I’ve been fine-tuning stuff, then putting it away for a week, then fine-tuning stuff. Right now, it’s 10 songs. We worked on around 20 songs for this particular batch and cut it down to 10 we feel really strongly about. It’s definitely our most electronic-leaning record. We put the guitar to the side. It’s still there, but it’s electronic first. Four to the floor. Beats and stuff. But still very much our dark style. We’re super excited about it.
Alex: Do you track everything at home?
Mike: Yeah, so, Gillian and I are engaged. We live together, and I built a studio in one of our guest bedrooms.
Mike: Thank you.
Alex: When did that go down?
Gillian: He asked me on New Year’s Day, actually. The first day of our vacation. We’re getting married next year in September. So, we’re excited. We’re having our engagement party tomorrow [before press time].
Alex: So, if you’re tracking everything in your own studio, doing all the mixing work. Do you need to step away for awhile before re-listening, or are you listening to the same song for several days in a row?
Mike: No. I think the first few weeks when you’re doing the intense stuff, yes, it’s every day. But it’s been a really important part of my process, to stop listening to it for a couple weeks. Don’t even think about it. Then pick a weird scenario. Put it on headphones. Listen in the car. Our lil’ old record player we have. Bluetooth. It’s important to switch things up because it keeps it fresh, like you’re hearing it for the first time. It’s very important to shelve stuff, and then come back to it, because you don’t know what it sounds like when you’re too close to it.
Alex: That makes sense. You guys seem very invested in visual content. TikTok. Twitter videos. Which, you know, OK, other people do that, too, but I feel like it’s something you emphasize.
Gillian: We’ve gotten some coaching from Mark Mallman. He’s been a mentor for us, as far as creating content and how to corner that market. “At this point, if you’re not using TikTok to promote your music, you’re doing it wrong,” is how he presented it to us. There isn’t a lot of original music getting posted on there. It’s not necessarily to promote our own music all the time, but to get peoples’ attention of who we are. Mark says if you use your own music, it shoves you down to the bottom of the algorithm [laughs], so it’s just another way we’ve tried to gain traction with people who don’t know us.
How country is Faith Boblett? She discusses cursed blog posts, ancient YouTube videos, and her undying love for Shania Twain
Flip Rushmore and Faith Boblett are both local artists on the Minneapolis-St. Paul music scene. Serving as Flip's reporter on assignment, Alex called Faith to ask hard-hitting questions about her work as a dental hygienist. She answered those, but it turns out there are few direct parallels between dental hygiene and songwriting, so we'll skip ahead to more topical fare.
Alex: It’s been awhile now, but you *had* been keeping up a blog. Pre-COVID. Your last post was almost a document from just before the Dark Ages. You wrote that you’d had a “really stressful 2019” and you were like, “2020, please be kind to me.” Uhh ... Did you make it out OK?
Faith: God. I remember writing that. It was 2019 New Year’s Eve at my parents house. Just chilling with them. It was kind of a sassy “fuck off 2019” and “2020’s gonna be my year.” All in all, I made it out OK. I got done with (dental hygienist) school and I was able to transition into a dental hygiene role at the office I was working in.
Not to say that it didn’t have its horrible moments. Of course it did. But I’m really a privileged human being, and I’m grateful that my loved ones stayed safe and I was able to stay safe while working in the dental profession, because that’s a little more high-risk of a job. I got to play a couple shows outdoors. All in all, I’m grateful for the good things that have happened. And I’m happy that the bad things are in the past.
Vinnie Donatelle aka Friend Dog discusses his debut EP, moving to Portland (and back), The Last Revel, and late friend Max Graham
Vinnie Donatelle is a Minneapolis-based musician known primarily for his work as a multi-instrumentalist in The Last Revel. His first solo EP--Tending a Timid Flame, under the name Friend Dog—will be available in the coming months.
He took a phone call from Alex to discuss the EP, The Last Revel hiatus, and several other topics, including what he learned during a short-lived move to Portland, how "impermanence" shapes his musical vision, and the love he has for his late friend, Max Graham. (Please note: Max's family is in need of support. Please visit this link to see how you might be able to assist his wife and children.)
Alex: So … Friend Dog. What was the spark to start a new project with its own name? I feel like when you name something, it becomes important. What led you to that step?
Vinnie: For a long time, I thought it would be an important step in my music career to take on a solo project I can float on my own without having to go through as many logistics and creative negotiations to both produce music and play live shows. But much more on the creative content end of things. At the same time, I never really liked the idea of just putting effort into music as “Vinnie Donatelle.” Something didn’t feel right about that. Maybe it’s too egotistical for my humble Minnesotan roots.
The Last Revel was kinda taking a bit of a step back, professionally. I thought it was a nice opportunity for me to establish a new project and see where it goes.
Each month, the five members of Flip Rushmore will tell the world what we're currently listening to. If there's something you think we should check out, email us at flip rushmore @ gmail dot com or leave a comment below.
Prinze George, "Centuries" — There was a time about 5 years ago where I found myself brushing shoulders with Bon Iver's brother, Nate, quite often. At the time, he was running a record label called Sounds Expensive, and Prinze George were one of his flagship acts. I remember going over to his house/recording studio/art gallery in NE Minneapolis one night and he played the video for their song "Wait Up," and the sound captivated me immediately. Since then, the band has been relatively quiet, but they are finally back with this new track "Centuries". Give this a listen to get lost in a placid soundscape of ethereal synths and guitar arpeggios. — Adam
Who has played the 7th Street Entry? Nirvana, The Strokes, Billie Eilish, The Killers, Lizzo, Green Day, Jonas Brothers, and more
Flip Rushmore is a Minneapolis indie rock band that's been fortunate enough to headline the 7th Street Entry on multiple occasions. Our current goal is to ... play any show, anywhere, ever again. Please. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to make any suggestions for this post. And if you have any specific memories of these shows, please share! Check us out on Spotify here.
First Avenue is the cornerstone of Minneapolis-St. Paul's legendary music scene and one of the most celebrated rock clubs in the world. The Mainroom—where Prince shot Purple Rain—has hosted thousands of notable artists.
But the small room next door is perhaps even more beloved by local artists. The 7th Street Entry (capacity: 250) is where Minnesota musicians cut their teeth, and it provides a warm welcome to national artists making their first trips through the Upper Midwest.
Timisarocker Q&A: Playing a gig for one fan, splitting from the Twin Cities drag scene, and finishing a new album
Timisarocker is a Minneapolis-St. Paul band with a new live performance video (sponsored by Music in Minnesota) dropping Thursday. Alex called up Tim Dooley to discuss that and several other important topics, including Tim's NSFW custom mic stand.
Alex: I figured we need to start with the bull penises. We saw you break out the new mic stand at Day Block a couple years ago. Was it brand new at that point?
Tim: I think so. I honestly can't remember when my boys bought that for me. Whether it was for my birthday, or whether it was for a holiday, but it was one of the first few times I'd gotten to use it. And it is my favorite thing of all time. It is like one of the coolest things I own. Because nobody else has it. And I feel like the more I show it off, the more more people will be like, yeah, I want a bull-penis mic stand. So, so far, I'm the only one in the world that I know of that has it. And I just think it’s so so so cool.
This account is based on two sources: Alex’s memory of a mysteriously retracted story from a major music news outlet (help me find it, Reddit!), and a 2-minute video clip from the Sun Kil Moon website. This story is reconstructed to the best of one man’s ability.
Please note: Mark Kozelek, a key character in this story, was credibly accused of sexual misconduct by three different women in 2020.
On the night of Jan. 14, 2016, Mark Kozelek and his band Sun Kil Moon played the Regent Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Standing near the front of the audience was a fan named Phoebe Bridgers.
As the band neared the end of their encore, Kozelek heard a request from the crowd: “You Missed My Heart,” a solo song he’d released a few years earlier. Sorry, he told the fan, I don’t remember all the words to that one.
No problem, the fan said. I can sing it.
Every month, the five members of Flip Rushmore will tell the world ? what we're currently listening to. If there's something you think we should check out, email us at flip rushmore @ gmail dot com or leave a comment below.
Hayley Williams, "Over Those Hills" — It's been a long time since I've listened to a new album all the way through ... and then started it from Track 1 again. Williams—who is best known for her pop/rock work with Paramore and the B.O.B. hit "Airplanes"--put out a great record last year, and followed it with Flowers for Vases/Descansos this month. She plays all the instruments (easy hook for me) and tells some memorable stories ("Trigger," "Inordinary"). The song "Over These Hills" is part of a strong middle section on the album that borrows a little bit of Lana, a little bit of La La Land, and revolves around a lick that will probably get it some decent play on AAA radio. (Alex)
Record Time is a recurring feature written by members of Flip Rushmore. This one comes courtesy of Mike Green. Comment with your favorite memories of Moving Pictures at the bottom of the story, and check out Flip Rushmore's latest release on Spotify.
Growing up can be a time of contrasts. You desperately want to fit in, but also feel the need to express your individuality, find your own path and stick to your guns — or at least, a gun you’ve decided is worth sticking to.
When I was around 14, I befriended an eclectic fellow who was the best person I knew at forging their own path (wearing bright green and orange corduroy pants to middle school in the year 2007 earns you that “best of” title, in my opinion). He encouraged me to check out a Canadian rock trio named Rush, who I was only familiar with thanks to Guitar Hero and Rock Band. He burned me a few tracks onto a CD, and I was hooked — these guys were pretty cool!