Quietdrive is a band comprised of five of the Twin Cities’ finest young musicians: Kevin Truckenmiller, Brandon Lanier, Will Casesar, Justin Bonhiver and Brice Niehaus. Formed in 2002 and later discovered and signed by Epic Records, they released their debut “When All That’s Left Is You” in 2006. The band’s follow-up, “Deliverance,” was recorded and released in 2008 with the Militia Group. A year later, Quietdrive released their EP “Close Your Eyes” through their own label, Sneaker 2 Bomb Records. A third, self-titled full-length dropped in 2010. I talked to front man Kevin Truckenmiller in anticipation of Quietdrive's annual holiday show at the Varsity Theater.
The song the average listener associates with Quietdrive is your cover of “Time After Time.” How did you decide to cover that song and why do you think it blew up the way it did?
Kevin Truckenmiller: It was a spur of the moment thing. We love that song, so we did a version of it and it turned really well; it surpassed our expectations. We did it for fun and didn't think the label would push it but they did a bunch of crazy testing and it tested off the charts. As for the success...I don't really know how to explain it. It surpassed our expectations.
Over the past nine years, you've been on a couple of different labels and now you're on your own, working independently, correct?
KT: We've been producing and putting out music through a label in Japan and in the U.S. we've been releasing on our own. We're trying to make connections with other countries so we can get into those markets, too.
Does being on your own label allow you more creative freedom?
KT: Absolutely. On a label, there are certain constraints that you have to abide by. There is creative control involved. On our own label, we get to do what we want as far as our sound and our songs go.
You recently tweeted about starting an Oasis cover band. How’s that working out for you?
KT: [Laughs] I posted that half-heartedly but I do really want to do it. I have four brothers, so growing up we had a five-piece, stereotypical garage band and one of my brothers said, "Dude, we have to do an Oasis cover band!" We love Oasis. I think they're better than the Beatles. I love the attitude. I love the songwriting. It would be fun to mimic them onstage and wear costumes.
Quietdrive did a tour of Iraq last year. What were the highlights and were there any terrifying moments while you were there?
KT: When we went to Iraq, they considered us VIP class, so they treated us really well. They almost protected us too much, more than the soldiers. There was not a point where we felt unsafe. It was kind of crazy, though, because we'd fly in Blackhawks from base to base and I had never been in a helicopter before that. Flying in a helicopter is absolutely frightening because you feel like helicopters shouldn't be able to fly, but they do. Then you notice there are machine guns all around and there's this sense of, "What could happen?" When you fly in a plane, you have that sense, too, but it's more like, "Oh, turbulence." When you're in the middle of a desert, it's rockets! [Laughs]
As five young, attractive, talented guys who are in the public eye a lot, you must get hit on all the time. How do you stay Minnesota Nice and keep from getting into trouble?
KT: There's always that awkward moment where you have to distance yourself from it, whether it's getting hit on or being asked out to lunch, but the important thing is to make time for your family. You can't always be doing work. I try to separate the two. It's a balance between keeping plans with the family and going to the bar with fans. Sometimes it can be crazy. Sometimes it's like, "Let's just keep this professional" and other times it's "Yeah, let's hang out." It depends on how bored you are, I guess.
You guys get really sweaty onstage. Do you hit the showers as soon as you get offstage or do you change? And who ends up doing all that laundry?
KT: We work really hard onstage. We've always been a sweaty band. [Laughs] We always carry a wardrobe with us. We change all the time. We don't wash our pants every day because...well, no one washes their pants every day, do they? We do wash our undergarments as much as possible. And venues always have socks for us. It'd be weird to ask a venue to give us underwear, but we do ask for socks.
According to your Twitter feed, "Breaking Bad," tater tots and scotch are among your favorite things. Anything else you'd like to add to that list?
KT: "Breaking Bad" is my favorite show on television right now. Tater tots...I don't know where that came from. I do like scotch. I'll tell you what I don't like: Johnny Walker. I think it's overrated. I like P.D. My Dad makes scotch so he gives a couple bottles every now and then. I think one thing the general public doesn't know about me is that I'm a huge nerd. I love technology. When we're in the studio, we use the computer as much as possible. I love using technology to connect people with our music. It keeps us close to our fans.
Where do you like to hang out when you're in Minnesota?
KT: I go where the crowd goes, usually, though lately I try to stay out of the crowd. If I go out, it's during the week; I let the city have the weekends. I used to go to the Uptown area a lot...and downtown...though me and my friend got jumped a while back, so it kind of scarred me. If I go out now, I try to avoid the scoundrel hour at two in the morning. [Laughs] You have no good reason to be out at that hour.
Your annual holiday show at the Varsity Theater is coming up. What are the Christmas songs that you never get sick of?
KT: "Carol of the Bells" is one of those songs nobody gets sick of. "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is a favorite. I've been thinking we should do a version of "O Holy Night." I think that's an Eric Cartman thing. It'd be cool to do a symphonic rendition of that song; not along the lines of Michael Bublé, but more like Muse. I love how they incorporate symphony into their songs.
Published on Metromix Twin Cities in Dec. 2011