Sometimes the world is not fair. We all know that, but sometimes it is more glaringly obvious. Sometimes the unfairness of this life looks you square in the eye and doesn't even flinch when it stabs you in the gut.
Such is the case that 3 Minute Hero never became famous.
They were good. I mean really, really good. Originally formed as yet another ska band, their horn section was just too powerful for such staid musical confines. In its prime (1997-2000), the horn section was fronted by two trombones -- instruments that, when played right, produce a brutal sound; a sound that punches and leaves you standing dumb like Peter Manfredo Jr. against Joe Calzaghe. This was supported by trumpet and sax and keys that swirled around the jabs and pulled you in. The whole thing fell together so perfectly that you found yourself not really hearing the different instruments, just this immense, immense sound. It was a sound that you could feel in your chest, a sound that felt too large for your head.
Fuelling the immensity was the sort of if-Animal-were-real-and-angry-and-100-feet-tall drumming you would expect from a guy who taught himself to play by listening to Kiss records. Atop it all was a larger-than-life frontman who stood as ringmaster, wailing and bellowing through the songs.
Obviously, with such a dynamic sound they were difficult to categorize. They were sort of a cross between stadium rock, Barenaked Ladies, Mighty Mighty Bosstones (circa Let's Face It), Parliament, and the first time a girl let you put your hand up her shirt. The lyrics were rapid-fire funny and brilliant, the music was incredible, and their shows were explosive in energy. They remain my favourite band of all time.
OK, true, I went to high school with three of the band members, one of whom has been my best friend for 19 years*, and I wrote the lyrics to one of their songs. I am biased. Even in the face of this they were good. In my mind, they had everything they needed to be big and I very seriously believed that one day everything would drop into gear and they would be touring around the world.
That never happened, of course. They played in bars in forgettable towns in forgettable states, bounded across North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin in an old school bus that they had won in a battle of the bands competition, until growing up became inevitable. The band split in 2000 and the members became husbands, fathers, home owners, teachers. A few of them joined other bands and achieved equal levels of success (most notably Jack Brass Band, where the two-trombones-kicking-your-ass-with-sound format was again used), but the 3MH experience remains wholly unique in my eyes.
The story of 3 Minute Hero is an almost bittersweet tale; evidence that incredible talent can exist and go unnoticed. It forces you to realise that there are authors more brilliant than Shakespeare who will never be published, songs being sung that would fill your soul but that you will never hear. It's unfair.
But there is hope: They're back, bitches!
Well at least for two performances. One will be in St. Peter, Minn., which became a sort of spiritual home for the band, and the other will be at Minneapolis' Fine Line. Their meteoric rise to fame will still probably never occur but at least a few more people will get a chance to finally hear the greatest band they never knew existed.
3 Minute Hero's Fine Line show is June 9, so you can expect to see me going on about this for a while. I am very serious that when I got the e-mail from Eric today I spent about half an hour trying to figure out if it would be at all possible for me to fly back to the U.S. to see the show (sadly, ignoring the $1,500 cost of a flight, I still have exams at that time).
There are a goodly number of Upper Midwesterners who read this blog, though, and I would encourage them to make the trip. No, really. This is a band worth driving several hours to see. Tickets are only $11, so you should have some extra money to buy Eric a beer.
*19 years, Eric. We are old.