3 Minute Hero: Bingo

Toast Magazine, Winter, 1998

3 Minute Hero is a bunch of guys who just want you to skank until you fall down on the floor in a sputtering, drunken heap and some friendly people you dont't even know take you home in their 1978 Ford Galaxie 500 and leave you lying face down in the wonderfully dewy grass outside your apartment building. Whimsical, electric, absurd ska music that just plain likes you. Personally, I think they might be better off adding a couple more serious songs to their repetoire to avoid the risk of being taken as a novelty act, but when they hit their mark in sings like "Geeks on Bikes" or "Parking Lot," they're irrisistable. Definitly worth a trip out.

3 Minute Hero at Fine Line Music Cafe

Angie Carlson-- Minnesota Daily A&E, Nov. 19, 1998

I've caught the show of the highly energized band, 3 Minute Hero, at several venues, but they have made a home for themselves at the Fine Line. Their set is a replica of a house, complete with a "bathroom" where the often topless drummer peeks out from behind a shower curtain, and a "living room" with a well-worn couch/trampoline, used by the horn section to wow us with their synchronized dancing and jumping skills. 3 Minute Hero is definitly a visually stimulating act, but even better, these goofy guys have got talent...I'm especially impressed buy their use of so many musical genres and styles: ska, jazz, blues, reggae, funk, salsa and R&B. You name it, they probably play it. If you still aren't impressed enough, come for the prizes! This Sunday performance will send one lucky devil home with a month's rent paid (up to $400). You could also win a payment on your NSP or US West bill!
 

3 Minute Hero saves time for UST

B.J. Nodzon-- St. Thomas Aquin, Oct. 16, 1998

Get ready to dance because the high-energy ska sounds of 3 Minute Hero are about to invade St. Thomas Oct. 23 from 9 to 11 p.m.
This 8-piece local band has been playing around town for about three years and have just released their second full-length CD, "Everyday Ninjas." Guitarist Jay Kalk and trombonist Jeff Nelson recently sat down for an interview with The Aquin.
Aquin: How did you get started playing music?
Jay Kalk: I was always a choir boy and I picked up the guitar and learned how to play a lot of rock and roll songs through a tablature, like Warrant and White Lion. Then I met up with these guys and we started playing music together.
Aquin: Did you meet locally?
Kalk: I grew up in New Ulm, Minn.
Jeff Nelson: I grew up in Bloomington, so half of the band is from New Ulm and the other half is from Bloomington.
Aquin: What type of music did you listen to while you were growing up?
Kalk: I listened to Men at Work, Van Halen and Michael Jackson.
Nelson: I listened to my dad sing spirituals (laughs). No, seriously, my mom had a lot of ABBA and Elvis lying around, but as I grew older I listened to James Brown and some Latin jazz and that fabulous band of the 80s, Lee Roth (laughs).
Aquin: Who do you currently listen to?
Kalk: Pretty much just 3 Minute Hero (laughs). But other than that, I guess I'm listening to this old 70s rock band called Big Star. They never really made it big, but they are a great group. It's fantastic high school 70s rock and roll. I love it.
Nelson: I've been l;istening to Phish, which is scary, and a lot of Fish Bone, which is even scarier. And then just for good measure, I listen to the Backstreet Boys (laughs).
Aquin: How did your latest CD, "Everyday Ninjas," get produced?
Nelson: It all starts when two people really like eachother (laughs). Just kidding. I guess it all started with our first one, "Bingo," we made so many mistakes on it, we thought we could improve on it. We worked extremely hard on it. We dropped out of school and decided to work full time on getting it done. We just figured school was always going to be there and we would never have this opportunity again, so we just went for it.
Aquin: How would you compare the music on "Everyday Ninjas" to your previous release?
Kalk: The music on this one is more aggressive. It sounds like we've been on the road for a while, and we have more eperience. The first CD sounds like, "Hey, we're in college and we just put out a CD-holy cow!" Overall, the new one has a harder edge to it.
Aquin: How would you classify your music? Are you ska?
Kalk: Oh, man, we run across this all the time. I hate to classify us. We do have elements of ska but we also branch out into Latin music and rock and roll.
Nelson: Well, we came up with a few genres we can fit into. Genre number one is boom stick (laughs). It's a small genre but we think we can fit our way into it. The other genre we could fit into is audio nudity (laughs). Yeah, you just listen to our CD and you can tell we're good lookin' guys.
Aquin: How do you go about writing songs?
Kalk: Jeff does most of the writing. He writes about two thirds and I write about a third. But in general, we just show up with a basic idea of what's going to happen and everyone contributes something. We just jam and then put lyrics on top of it.
Aquin: Where are you set to tour?
Kalk: We do regional gigs. Right now it's just Upper Midwest, and we've got about six dates. We have gone to the East Coast once, and we are planning to go to Arizona and California, but those gigs are tough because they drown out your savings.
Aquin: What bands do you usually tour with?
Kalk: Regionally, we've been touring with Bobby Llama from St. Olaf. I really like them; they play good music and they're really nice. In this business you usually like the band but the members aren't cool, or the members are cool but the music bites. But Bobby Llama is really cool. They're probably the third best band in the universe-the whole universe.
Aquin: What can a typical fan expect to see from a 3 Minute Hero show?
Nelson: Mysterious bruises and full frontal nudity (laughs). Just kidding. They can expect to sweat, meet someone new and exciting, dance and experience loud, happy music. And as for the St. Thomas show, we're going to see if there are any fire codes.
 
 

everyday ninjas review in the Twin Cities' PUSH magazine

Ben Lacina-- push, June 6, 1998
"Three years ago, ska was in the running for 'The Next Big Thing.' However, ska has gone stale--particularly the stuff that remains on radio playlists. (One can only handle so much up-beat chink-chink-chink-chink before it just gets old.) Enter 3 Minute Hero and the band's sophomore effort everyday ninjas, a crazy surprise that veers from ska's traditional, 'righteous'' path. Admittedly, the album starts off with the same-old same-old. However, track three slaps the listener upside the head. The intense guitar work carries the remaining tracks. When it isn't the six-string, the band's renovated horn section drags you along, kicking and screaming for more. The addition of Eric Johnson's playing and songwriting abilities is readily apparent. Next to the very acoustic brass, the electronic keyboard seems out of place, finding its only true musical home on 'Mean Man at the Circus.' Lyrically, Jeff Nelson is still greatly in need of therapy, poor guy. But that's what keeps the songs, and more notably the band's liv gigs, interesting. The themes are the same: songs are steeped in sexual innuendo, white trash, girl trouble and Latin cuturata. The band has no shame. Through all the fun sounds and lyrical twists, 3 Minute Hero is still very much a live experience. everyday ninjas incorporates many sonic trinkets to complement the lyrics, but a visit to a live show really completes the picture."
 

Hero makes the Minneapolis City Pages "A List"

Peter Scholtes-- City Pages, May 20, 1998
"These careening ska-scrapers from Moorhead have three things going for them: Like Bim Skala Bim, they can make a room explode without resorting to hardcore breaks; like the artist currently known as James Brown, they seem to evince a rare strain of mania; and like, well, nobody, they sing about the joys of eating pie filling from the can and blasting Styx off the front porch--the latter being their grand metaphor for America. This ensemble's proud (and perhaps permanent) undergrad status has its own charm ('Four years down and three to go,') sings trombonist Jeff Nelson on their new everyday ninjas CD). I also like the simple rationale they offer in interviews for playing the world's most overplayed music: 'Ska has horns. Horns are good.' Same to you, buddy."
 

No, no no, thank YOU...

Mei Young--92 KQRS - KQ Homegrown, Minneapolis, MN; May 19, 1998
"Glad you stopped by the KQ Homegrown Show. Your dedication is almost as admirable as your live performance. 3MH has the potential to sweep the nation! Keep up the perseverance and good luck! Please keep us posted and join us again sometime. THANKS FOR THE MUSIC!"
 

A nice mention in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Vickie Gilmer-- Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 1, 1998
"The area is becoming populated by ska bands, but it's doubtful any work as hard as 3 Minute Hero, who are already booked throughout the Upper Midwest this summer. Slicing and dicing ska with everything from punk to salsa music, the group's broad palette lends its music interesting dimensions and plenty of danceability."
 

KFAI Local Sound Department's Mark Wheat weighs in...

Mark Wheat--KFAI Local Sound Department, Minneapolis; April 6, 1998
"...3 Minute Hero was celebrating the release of their second CD and the fact that they had just decided to drop out of school in Moorhead to attempt to make a living out of 'the biz.' In front of a very enthusiastic and obviously strong, 'old-school' core audience in their hometown, they put on one of the most energetic, and cleverly entertaining shows that I have seen from a 'local' band in a long time...The band have obviously acknowledged the need to put on a 'really big show.' Jeff Nelson, the lead singer and trombonist, keeps up a constant stream of witty repartee between songs, using a fairground barker style presentation, veering towards the coarse without ever having to resort to the vulgar. But, more impressively, both he and Jay Kalk, guitarist and occasional vocalist, joined one of the [High Plains Music Conference] panels during the day and lent an interesting insight into how they had approached the business side of presenting their music, belieing their age and goofy stage personas!!"

 

 

Our favorite club quote:

Mick Sterling--Mick Sterling and the Stud Brothers, Heart & Soul Festival, Minneapolis, MN; April 2, 1998
"These guys are fantastic! They're the best band I've seen in a club in my life!"
 

Excerpts from a groovy cover story (with pictures) by the High Plains Reader

Cover Feature Article by Jen Nelson--High Plains Reader, Fargo, ND; March 26, 1998
"...The band exploded. Frontman Jeff Nelson,...brandishing his trombone, appeared above the dance floor like a ringmaster under the Big Top, clearly intending to shake things up a bit. A stage full of suit-and-tie-clad musicians behind him saw his energy and raised it by half. With the first blast from the horn section, my pulse quickened and my heart pounded...the energy of this band was unbelievable...By midnight, hardly an open space remained on the dance floor.
 
"The band's first CD, bingo, rocks, and appears to be a staple on most people's disc-changer. However, I was fortunate enough to get a sneak preview of 3 Minute Hero's yet-to-be-released CD, everyday ninjas, and I must warn you that it will blow you out of your skull. Recorded at Raptor Studios in Fargo under the Barking Dog Records label, which is owned by Mike and Linda Coates, this new CD definitely sounds like the band has been around the block a few more times and has tales to tell. Upon its release, don't hesitate to add it to your collection. You won't be sorry."

 

 

3 Minute Hero at Minneapolis' Famed 1st Ave.

Band Review by Benjamin Lacina
Vol. 26 No. 16, January 16, 1997
The Advocate, Moorhead State University, Moorhead, Minnesota
 
As the video screen slowly inched its way up, members of Fargo-Moorhead's cutest commodity, 3 Minute Hero, paused for a moment of silency, gathered their thoughts, soaked up those last drops of adrenaline and tried to ignore the pressure of soon-to-be fans at First Avenue in Minneapolis. Then, they blew us away.
 
From the very first notes that flew off the stage and blew out the speakers, I knew we were in for a great show. This being only about the third or fourth time I'd seen the band, I wasn't sure what to expect. None of the hundreds of people there would be disappointed that night.
 
During the first tunes, I witnessed what I had known to be 3 Minute Hero. Then after a break, The Artist Formerly Known As Jeff Nelson took control, pining out the opening lines of What's-His-Name's "Let's Go Crazy." From then on, the band worked its eclectic fun, conjuring up images of "The Karate Kid," a dance down the Caribbean and a fabulous Mexican fiesta.
 
The band had definitely polished its sound. Quarters could have bounced off of the tightly-honed music.
3 Minute Hero weaves a certain Technicolor magic. They're one of the most colorful ska bands I've ever seen. Jason gets the award for Best Tie; Luke -- Best Slacks.
 
Anyway, back to the music.
 
As they eased into a comfortable groove, the band's musicality really shined through. The boys have spent a lot of time composing well-crafted, well-orchestrated original material. Each member is an excellent musician (as well as comedian).
 
They appeared just as comfortable on this stage as even the most informal of gigs here in town. Enduring a broken guitar string and even an almost-fatal keyboard accident (for the keyboard that is -- careful, Luke), the band proved professional in all accounts.
 
Let's just say 3 Minute Hero "have all the merchandise" and come "fully equipped" to tackle even the most challenging of audiences.
 
Be on the lookout for a full-length CD sometime in March, and take the time to invest in one of their upcoming shows. It's sure to warm even the coldest of evenings.
 

Hero Wows 'Em in Grand Forks

Band Review by Ian Swanson
Vol. 3 No. 13, February 27, 1997
The High Plains Reader, Fargo/Grand Forks ND
 
3 Minute Hero's first appearance in Grand Forks worried me. A ska band complete with two trombones, a trumpet and a saxophone, with all of the members wearing suits (including the frontman, dressed in a banana yellow coat and bow tie), might play well in Fargo, but how would notoriously reticent Grand Forks audiences react, especially after enjoying pitcher after pitcher of Keystone Light on another legendary "Buck Pitchers" night at the Down Under?
 
There should have been no worry, for 3 Minute Hero, a ska-band in the style of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and the Specials, not No Doubt or Goldfinger, was the perfect fit for "Buck Pitchers." These guys believe in putting on an entertaining, theatrical show, and more importantly, they believe in drinking beer while doing it. They also believe their audience should drink beer. "We sound like the best band in the world after three pitchers, I guarantee it," they guaranteed, and sure enough, it was true.
 
Toward the end of the night I found myself dancing furiously in a crowd just in front of the stage. The pal I was with, who will be known in this piece as the most cynical 24-year-old on the planet, had a tear in his eye as he watched an eclectically dressed crowd of guys and dolls dance and dance and dance. "Everyone was so happy," he told me later, "It was just so...nice."
 

The Wonders of Ska Hit the Valley

Article by Lance Johnson
April 11, 1997
The Dakota Student, Univeristy of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND
 
As I look back on the first few months of 1997, I have a couple of regrets. I shouldn't have dated that coke-sniffing bearded lady from the circus, I regret ever doing that. I also regret sending all my savings to a television evangelist. I regret dying my pubic hair blaze orange, and I regret telling people about it. These mistakes were all pretty big ones, but none compare to the mistake I made on Feb. 21, 1997. That was the night I missed a history-making event. It was the night I missed 3 Minute Hero at the Down Under Sports Bar.
 
3 Minute Hero is a ska band from the Fargo-Moorhead area, and they really kick ass. Dressed in suit and tie, the eight college students brought their horn blowing razzle dazzle to Grand Forks for the first time in February. This was the first time a ska band played in such a popular venue, and according to Bill and Ted, the owners of the Down Under, it will not be the last. Ska is a form of music that is rather new to his area. It is hard to define what ska music actually is to someone who has never heard it. When I think of ska music I think of Rhythm and Blues accented heavily with horns and Bleeding Gums Murphy. It could be defined in many ways, but the sum of all definitions will always equal fun feel-good music.
 
3 Minute Hero has been together for about two years now, and they just released their first CD, bingo, early this April. The disc is available in area stores and it is already a regular in my disc changer. The album is plum full of childhood memories and twisted thoughts of songwriter Jeff Nelson, who also does vocals and plays the 'bone. I had the privilege of talking to Jeff and another band member Jay Kalk earlier this week. This pair could easily go on the road and be a successful comedy duo -- I nearly pissed my pants a couple of times listening to the two of them. But between laughs, I managed to find out the story behind the ska band 3 Minute Hero.
 
The band got started early in 1995, when a couple of guys from MSU and one unfortunate fellow from NDSU (nothing personal) decided to get together and try their hands at ska. Being already overly gifted musicians, the band started clicking the first time on stage at a fundraiser on the MSU campus.
 
Since then, their popularity has steadily grown and now with the release of their first CD, the band feels like it has really accomplished something.
 
"It started out as kind of an experiment," says Nelson. "I was actually a bit unsure about buying my suit for our first show, and that was only eight dollars." When asked about how it feels to have a CD out on shelves, Jay Kalk explained the feeling in a quite odd manner.
 
"It's like having an orgasm and opening up the garage door and finding a black 1959 Cadillac." No matter how you say it, the band feels really good about their first album.
 
"I was sitting in the Student Union the other day, and I heard one of our songs come on over the speaker, I just sat back and watched my head expand, it's a total loss of concentration," says Jeff, after he and Jay had a long discussion on Malt 'o' Meal. "it is really overwhelming."
 
3 Minute Hero will be bringing their wild and wacky show to Grand Forks this weekend starting tonight at the Down Under Sports Bar. I made the mistake of missing these guys the first time but there's no chance in heaven, hell or earth that I will miss them again.
 
Interestingly, I asked the band if they could open for any other band or singer, who they would choose. They said Neil Diamond. I asked who they would have open for them, and they said Kid Jonny Lang. I found that really, really funny.
 

CD Review - bingo

CD Review by Benjamin Lacina
Vol. 26 No. 26, April 3, 1997
The Advocate, Moorhead State University, Moorhead, Minnesota
 
By now, nearly everyone in the Fargo-Moorhead area knows that 3 Minute Hero is a fun, energetic live band. The difficult task, then, is capturing that live energy "on tape" and delivering a compact unit that packs the same kind of punch.
 
bingo, 3MH's first full-length release, rather successfully crosses that barrier. There is a clear difference between the CD sound and the in-your-face delivery of the band's live show. It's definitely a studio album, filled with subtle embellishments and enhancements not present in the live show.
 
Play the CD loudly. It's not a headphone, critical-listening album. You need the physical vibrations driving at your person to get the full effect of these guys.
 
bingo does showcase the excellent songwriting and technical ability of this funky octet. And boy, Jeff can really sing! Tracks that really shine include "Sno Cone of Luv" (with a guest appearance by Ethel Merman), "Babbitt" (with hints of the band's '80s influences) and "Trailer Park" (you just gotta hear it). There's even a spiffy intermission.
 
Pick it up. It's a good thing. (Rated 9 out of 10)
 

Fargo-Moorhead's Ska Heroes Talk About Playing bingo

Feature Article by Ian Swanson
Vol. 3 No. 16, April 10, 1997
The High Plains Reader, Fargo/Grand Forks ND
 
It was a sunny day in Fargo, the kind of day where you want to drive around town with the top down listening to Jimmy Cliff's "I Can See Clearly Now" as loud as your car stereo can dish it out, but as sunny as the sky was, it wasn't as bright as the faces of Jay Kalk and Jeff Nelson, who were listening to their brand new 3 Minute Hero recording bingo at Nelson's apartment on the Thursday evening it was released.
 
After recording for five weeks at Raptor Studios in Fargo and then waiting an eternally long two weeks for the CDs to be manufactured and returned to Fargo, Nelson and Kalk, the band's chief songwriters, were only too ready to exuberantly talk about the CD track by track as we listened to it together.
 
As a recording, bingo really does grow on you, as song by song the manic energy of the 3MH live show gradually becomes more and more evident with every tune, from the obligatory "contrived song about women" "Girls," a wonderfully silly song, to "Trailer Park" and "Chinese Restaurant," even more wonderfully silly songs. My foot was tapping. I wanted to see them live again.
 
"We know that our show, which we're very proud of, is our music and our schtick," says Kalk, the band's guitarist. "But our music, in my opinion, has a very high quality."
 
"We stand by our CD," Nelson quips in to sum it up.
 
Audiences can check out 3 Minute Hero live several times over the next few weeks. They'll be headlining the Raptor Studio Showcase at the 1st Avenue in Fargo April 17 and 18, and they'll have their CD release party in Grand Forks at the Down Under Pub April 11 at 9 pm, where they'll display their sense of humor and musical timing.
 
Some of that "schtick" from live performances shows up on the album, from Nelson's southern growl of "Myhrleeen, where in the Sam Hell is my beef pot pie," on "Trailer Park," to the hymn-like coda of "The Ska." On "Tangerine," Nelson does a loungy interpretation of, well, maybe Steve Lawrence, while singing of his hatred for Bil Keane, the creator of "Family Circus," while "Sno Cone of Luv" details a love affair at the State Fair, something residents of the Red River Valley can surely identify with. That's not to say 3 Minute Hero's music is completely light; the darker "Babbitt," might be a sign of things to come. But overall, bingo is definitely a fun album, and 3 Minute Hero is definitely a fun band to see live, something nonchalant audiences quickly discover.
 
"It kind of revs us up when the audience is just sitting there," Kalk told me over beers at Lauerman's. "We know without sounding too cocky that we can get people up. We put on a good show, we hope it's infectous, and we know people will respond."
 
For those unfamiliar with ska music, it's a bit of a hybrid form of music with reggae, punk, latin, and rock influences, among others. Much of the 3 Minute Hero catalog is a bit reminiscent of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and The Specials. 3 Minute Hero includes a horn section of two trombones, a trumpet and a saxophone, a keyboardist, a guitarist and a rhythm section. Kalk and Nelson mention Bim Skala Bim as an early influence, but also maintain that they're not really a hard-core ska band.
 
"There's a Latin influence, an early 1960s cheesy love tunes influence to early 80s influences," lists Kalk. "There's even some aspect of Pee Wee Herman."
 
"I think we are pop music that is heavily influenced by ska," says Nelson, the group's lead singer and one of the two trombonists.
 
3 Minute Hero still hasn't been together for even a year. They met through various classes and meetings at Moorhead State, where several of the members were taking music courses. In fact, Nelson says one of the reasons he was ready for something different was that he was sick of playing jazz all the time. Both say 3 Minute Hero basically consists of band geeks who have been getting up at 7 in the morning for years to practice in various high school and college bands, and jocks who have spent years playing in basements and garages drinking beer.
 
Success started piling up earlier this winter when 3 Minute Hero won a battle of the bands sponsored by the Old Broadway and Rolling Rock Beer, beating out eight other bands to win an as-yet-unnamed, not completely remodeled bus. Their popularity is confirmed by the sales of their CD, which sold nearly 300 copies in only a week of sales on campuses and at live CD release parties in Fargo.
 
"It's kind of like energy," says Nelson in explaining how the spontaneity of their live shows is captured on records. "It can never be destroyed, it just changes forms. The bottom line is I don't think any energy is lost."
 
In addition to their show at the Down Under in Grand Forks, the 3 Minute Hero boys will be peroforming at a fraternity house in Grand Forks. Since Greek students have traditionally caught on and supported ska music all over the country before, really, everyone else, I asked Nelson and Kalk what fraternity guys see in ska that not everyone else sees immediately.
 
"Because girls dig it," quipped Nelson. "It's great live show music, and fraternity guys have great parties, and great parties have great music."
 
 

MSU Band 3 Minute Hero releases CD

Article by Erika Mikkelson
April 8, 1997
The Concordian, Concordia College, Moorhead, MN
 
What's brassy and sassy and turns your knees to jelly and your mind to squash? It's the music of Fargo-Moorhead's ska band, 3 Minute Hero, according to lead vocalist and Moorhead State University student Jeff Nelson.
 
The band, a featured local talent of Cornstock this year, has released its first CD, bingo, under the co-label of Fargo's Barking Dog Records and Martini Records. The eight-member band recorded 14 original tracks at Fargo's Raptor Recording Studio earlier this year, according to guitarist and vocalist Jay Kalk.
 
3 Minute Hero spent two months in the recording studio working on what Nelson calls "our grandest achievement." To preserve the live element in their music, three of the band members were given key roles in production decisions. Kalk, Nelson and bassist Jason Hoffman, along with Mike Coates, owner of Raptor, collaborated in the production of bingo.
 
The band members agree that one musical style doesn't cover their range of music. All eight members bring different styles and musical influences to the band, according to Nelson. "Ska, jazz, funk and lounge are definitely influences creating a carnival, party atmosphere," Nelson said.
 
bingo is available at Best Buy, Discontent, Media Play, Barnes & Noble and Zandbroz in Fargo as well as other local music stores, according to Kalk. To promote its CD, the band will launch a three-week Midwest tour this August.
 
Kalk and Nelson are looking forward to reaching a new audience at Cornstock. "The best thing going for us is that we're a show. We're not just a band playing music; we're a package deal," Nelson said.
 

 
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