An interview with The Millenium frontman Matt Hasenmueller
The 2017 Independent Showcase at Ferris State University is set to kick out this week with Eau Claire, WI alternative rock outfit The Millenium.
The Millenium will hit the stage this Thursday, February 2 at 7 p.m. in the Business Building room 111. Tickets are $3 for students and $5 non-students at the door.
The Millenium came out swinging from the UW-Eau Claire college campus in 2014 with their debut release It's so Much Friendlier With Two. Most recently, The Millenium released single "Interstates" in 2016. "Interstates" encompasses a unique blend of alternative rock, indie folk and electronic pop with energetic yet atmospheric vocals.
Prior to their upcoming debut performance at Indie Showcase, frontman Matt Hasenmueller answered questions centered on creative influences, pros/cons of being an independent artist, stage presence and the impact Bon Iver has made on the local Eau Claire, WI music scene. Check out Matt’s interview below:
TS: What groups were members of The Millenium involved in before forming in 2014?
Matt: The Picture Perfect, The Last Semester, and End of December.
TS: Is the band name "The Millenium," any tribute at all to 1960s super group "The Millennium" fronted by Eau Claire native Curt Boettcher, or was that a total coincidence?
Matt: This was absolutely a coincidence, and we couldn’t believe it either! For awhile it was all that showed up if you would search us on Spotify, or online in general.
TS: Who were the major influences in the early stages of The Millenium?
Matt: We have always been a band with a very eclectic mix of influences. In the beginning we were very influenced by the pop-punk/alternative scene, but also the Eau Claire scene with such acts as, Bon Iver and S. Carey. We have also always been influenced by multiple eras of pop in general, which I think comes out in our vocal melodies.
TS: In only two years after forming, The Millenium went from playing college campuses to Warped Tour. What's it like to play a major show like Warped Tour and book your own headlining tours so soon after forming, while so many bands never make it out of their local scene?
Matt: Every show is special for it’s own reason, and we are so lucky to be able to play where we’ve played, and to who has showed up. We know that we are lucky, but we also put an incredible amount of effort into “getting out” of our local scene as well. I see so many bands romanticize touring, and assimilating it with success, but that is just the wrong mentality to have. We were very fortunate to be given an opportunity to support our friends in “7 Minutes in Heaven” early on that we then capitalized on and turned it into more opportunities in the future.
TS: I noticed while watching live videos of The Millenium, especially the 2016 set at Beat Kitchen in Chicago, that the band's stage presence is energetic and lead singer Matt connects very well with the crowd. In my opinion while watching live shows, I always prefer a band going out there and moving/jumping around on stage, opposed to standing idle. Is a memorable stage presence a focus for the band?
Matt: Absolutely it is. In the beginning when we started writing our first ep, we actually made a point to make songs that would be fun to play live, and to experience live as an audience member. During rehearsal we are also constantly brainstorming ideas to make our show more fun to watch. Some bands can pull off the “tilt your head and look cool” vibe, but in our opinion were out here to have a good time, and to leave our worries at the door and have as much fun as possible.
TS: So far The Millenium has released their debut EP, "It's so Much Friendlier With Two" and 2014, and popular singles "Take Me" "Stay" and "Interstates" within the last couple of years. Are there plans for a full-length release within the upcoming future?
Matt: We are always cooking up new tunes for everyone, and more music being released is inevitable. How we will release them is still only for us to know, but definitely be on the lookout.
TS: What are the positives of being an independent/unsigned artist? Vice versa, what are some challenges the band has faced remaining unsigned?
Matt: The largest adversity any band has is financial. A label can help with that initially, but then you have to pay it back as they are essentially a bank you get a loan from. I think right now we’re living in an exciting time where having a label isn’t nearly as necessary as it used to be because of the Internet; the Internet changed everything. That being said, there are other benefits to having a label as well, you can get help with management, branding, promotion, support tours, etc. The list can go on and on forever. A benefit of being an independent artist is that every decision is up to you, which is powerful in this age of niche entertainment, however this blessing can also be a curse. There are many times you simply just don’t know where to go next which makes staying true to yourself that much more important.
TS: Now I have to know, what was it like being from the same town as Bon Iver frontman, Justin Vernon?
Matt: He is one our favorite artists as a group, some more than others, but other than that he stays pretty reclusive. I (Matt) saw him at the grocery store once though.
TS: What effect has Bon Iver had on the local music scene in Eau Claire, Wisconsin?
Matt: There is no doubt that Justin has an incredible influence on multiple facets of the Eau Claire community. Economically he has invested in many local businesses, and helped create a general tone to our downtown revival. Eau Claire is getting hip, and he is a poster boy for that. The music scene here can be a weird one though, and we can be very bias and inclusive for how much we tout about being a “hub” for music and the arts. It is however slowly but surely on the rise to becoming something great in my (matt) opinion.
TS: Lastly, has Justin Vernon influenced The Millenium writing style?
Matt: Like I said before, he is a favorite artist for some of us, and that definitely shows in our songs. I also think we have a good way of working in our influences so that it’s not very blatant. When it comes to lyrics his cryptic style definitely resonates with us , and more specifically the bridge of our song “Stay” is very much a reflection of our love for his layered vocals and atmospheric instrumentals. Our “Pine Hollow Sessions” ep was also inspired by Bon Iver and his umbrella of acts he has in this community. We specifically re-worked songs to reflect on the “Eau Claire sound” and I think it is one of my favorite projects we ever worked on.
The Millenium's next show will be Friday February 3 at The Garage in Burnsville, MN February 3 at with The Color Tab // John Chuck & The Class // The Man.
Remaining Independent Showcase dates:
February 2: The Millenium
February 9: Marina City
February 23: likemelikeyou