Senator was one of my old bands... Phil from Les Dirty Frenchmen/The Trans Ams has a blog called "the odyssey" and he did a blog about us. Thanks Phil! Here is his blog. I added our claim to fame show playing with Sleater Kinney and the set list from that show that I kept. Cool.
While a local scene burns its brightest, there is no end to the little bands that sprout up overnight and fade away just as quickly. Some of them are quite good. Senator was one of these bands.
Senator members were all from Moorhead State (or MSUM, depending on when you graduated or quit) and released a cassette demo in the mid 90s that continues to get my regular attention. It sounds like the ramshackle offspring of The Yips, Kicking Giant and Unwound, with a healthy dose of frantic pop/punk crammed in there. Fargo was a whirlwind of small-town punk rock activity in the 90s. Bands formed, played around, made tapes and fizzled out. Then the members would shuffle around with members of some other band and start again. Like other bands from college towns, every member had a lot going on at once. They did time in lots of other groups, often more than one at the same time. Drummer Clay Johnson was in several others with Senator bass player Eric Kjer alone (although I don’t remember if any of these bands were active at the same time). I even played in a band called C.O.B.R.A. with guitarist/singer Ben Graner for a time. The other guitarist, Jen Holland, didn’t play with large number of bands–although she was in a Minot, ND band called Madeline. Long story short, these kids didn’t stick with one thing for all that long.
Jen and Ben trade vocal duties, and their voices share an inviting, amateurish charm. And songs often explode into a reckless tornado of low-fi, lump-in-your-throat excitement. Those moments are plentiful on their tape, and gives you a good idea of how much fun they were to hear live. I don’t want to build it up too much. They were just good. I keep it in my car and it always makes me think of early Spring for some reason. I only saw them play a few times.
I’m not sure how long they lasted, but Ben went on to start Akeley, a haunting little Duluth, MN folk/pop project that’s managed to outlive all of his other bands (at least I think it has). Eric is in a Minneapolis band called Sugoi!. I’m not sure what Clay and Jen are doing these days.
For your downloading pleasure, I’ve ripped the Senator demo below. Enjoy one of Fargo/Moorhead’s forgotten gems.
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