It was in March of 2013, while presenting songs to music mogul Wyclef Jean, that members of #MPLS discovered how much they liked to work together. From working together on a case-by-case basis, to doing shows around the city as a cover band, group leader Brandon Commodore says one day they just had to ask the question: “Do we want to keep being a cover band thing and keep doing shows like this, or do we want to explore our own material as a group?”
#MPLS consists of members: Brandon Commodore on the drums, Yohannes Tona and Erik Yates on bass, Rob Coleman and David Billingsley on keys, David Glen (D.G.) on guitar and vocals, Bree Turner and Ashley Commodore on vocals, Jesse Larson on lead guitar, and Beeph serving as the group’s emcee.
With so many members and pieces to the puzzle, the group looks to Brandon as their leader to keep them grounded and focused. Younger sister Ashley jokingly associates him to Ike Turner and Joe Jackson, while D.G. and the rest of the group quickly agree because he “whips” them into shape. “Everybody knows their role, not only [because] we all believe in it, but we all understand our role,” says Coleman. “The reason we all understand that is because of [Brandon], because of his knowledge and understanding of how we’re all supposed to be a well-oiled machine.”
The roles they speak of aren’t solely the musical roles, but also social roles. When the group needs a laugh, Beeph is quick to deliver a joke. When the group needs an inspirational message, Coleman delivers words of wisdom. If a smile or positive words are needed, Turner or Ashley can assist. When it’s time to reel everyone in, then Brandon cracks the whip. All of these elements combine into their creative process and assists in creating music.
The group released their debut album in 2014, which was appropriately titled Hello as they introduced a unique sound to the world. It’s not pop, hip hop, rock, R&B, or even what’s known as the “Minneapolis Sound,” but rather a multi-genre gumbo. The mix of styles in their music is the perfect representation of the uniqueness of their group, with each member contributing different elements to produce a one-of-a-kind experience.
“It’s like speaking a foreign language somewhere where nobody else speaks the same, and everybody speaks different. Then out of nowhere, all of a sudden, you find somebody that speaks the same language as you,” says guitarist Larson on what it’s like to play with his fellow group members in #MPLS.
The rest of the band quickly agrees in awe of the prolific representation of their music. #MPLS represents the Minneapolis Sound and where it’s headed. The group does not limit themselves to a particular genre, but rather aims to do music that sounds good no matter the genre.
“What keeps the chemistry and vibe together is when you think about what Jesse said, the language thing is a great analogy,” says Coleman. “We all have different characters, we’re not all the same people. We all may not like each other, we all might get on each other’s nerves, but when it’s time to get to work, we get to work.”
Aside from work ethic and chemistry, each member acknowledges that they could all successfully be doing their own thing, and a few do. D.G. has his own band, Beeph performs in a Christian hip hop group, Jesse and Rob play in other bands, Ashley sings with the Sounds of Blackness, Bree sings solo, and Brandon has been playing with Mint Condition for the past several years. Each individually has accomplished much, but together they believe they can accomplish much more.
To the young, up-and-coming artists, each member leaves advice. Beeph encourages young artists to learn an instrument and more importantly “be yourself.” D.G. says to “invest in yourself.” They all agree that it takes time. Lastly, Rob says, “Your gift can only get you so far, [but] your character can take you over the top.”
To their fans and supporters, #MPLS especially gives thanks: “I just want to say it is important for us to document, there are a large group of people who have been supporting us for a long time and the only reason we’re able to keep doing shows is because they keep coming to [our] show,” says Brandon. “When we were recording our album, it was fan funded. We did crowd funding and it was the people who gave to music they never heard before because they believed in us.”
To experience #MPLS, listeners can do so through iTunes or by going to their site: http://soundslikempls.com. On the other hand, for the live experience, check them out July 14 as they perform at Live on the Drive, a summer concert series in North Minneapolis. Go to http://bit.do/liveonthedrive for more event information.
Khymyle Mims welcomes reader comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update: A previously version of this article incorrectly identified the name of band leader Brandon Commodore. The error has been corrected.
Khymyle Mims is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.