Minneapolis Synth Geeks Get Chicks: An Interview with Duck Duck Punch

Bryan Rudell and Trent Waterman are Duck Duck Punch, a synth act from Minneapolis. The duo met as design students in college and formed Duck Duck Punch in 2009.The band just released their debut full-length release Human Chemistry last week and celebrated with a CD release show at Minneapolis’ historic 7th Street Entry. You can stream the entire record on Spotify at the bottom of the page. Fishpork recently got a chance to catch up with Bryan and Trent to chat about influences, playing live, and the Minneapolis music scene.

Fishpork: You guys are from Minneapolis. We’re big fans of Tapes ‘n Tapes, who hail from your hometown. How has the scene changed since Prince came up in the early 80s?

Bryan Rudell: Well, we were born while Prince was recording Lovesexy, so … no better time to enter the world, I guess. We did get to grow up in the 90s, though, which was a great time — we had the BEST alternative station called 93.7 THE EDGE, which played everything from Fiona Apple to Metallica, Garbage to Duran Duran. I think the Minneapolis genre scope has widened considerably, and people care more about the local scene more than ever.

FP: Nine Inch Nails and LCD Soundsystem, two of our all-time favorite bands, are cited as influences of yours. What elements from the work of Trent Reznor and James Murphy are you most inspired by?

BR: I love when the musical elements skew imperfect in Trent Reznor’s work — sometimes even chaotic. Detuned notes, big use of portamento – stuff like that. It’s the combination of subtle beauty and raw power that meld into each other so well. And James Murphy is great because he values getting back to analog roots. LCD albums have the energy of a live band, but saturated with quirky vintage analog synthesizers & drum machines.

FP: You met as design students in college. When did you begin collaborating on music and when did that collaboration become Duck Duck Punch?

BR: I had just gotten back from a trip to Boston to see Freezepop’s 10th anniversary shows. I hung out at their afterparty, and came to the realization that they established themselves, themselves — if I seriously wanted to make music, it was now or never.

Trent Waterman: Before that, though, we started an ill-conceived parody death metal band called Master Death Darkness of Doom Blood. True story. I think that lasted about 4 or 5 days. Eventually things worked themselves out and we found a more appropriate sound with Duck Duck Punch.

FP: How do you guys approach the songwriting process as a duo? Is it all analog equipment or do you incorporate Logic, Reason, or any other music applications into the process?

TW: Bryan writes the majority of our music, but we tend to each bring the whole developed song to the table, rather than just a rough idea.

BR: It’s primarily analog equipment. We use Logic as our DAW — it’s got great tools for adding effects to tracks, and for programming midi to feed the synths/drum machine tracks. There’s one Auturia Minimoog V patch on “Mirage,” and the main pad in “RGB” is the Alesis Ion — but the rest of the synth tracks are analog. I adore vintage synthesizers. So much character.

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FP: Favorite synth of all-time. Go!

BR: As of now, my desert island synthesizer would have to be the Roland Juno-60. That might change if I got my hands on a Jupiter 8, but…

TW: Commodore 64 Cynthcart

FP: The band released its debut album Human Chemistry last week. How would you describe the sound of the record?

BR: Fluffy 80s pop meets grunge-electro analog?

TW: A gazelle running through a field of barbed wire and hard candy. Being chased by robots.

FP: What were some of your favorite records from the past year?

TW: Bahamas “Barchords” was on my record player a lot this year. The simplicity of the arrangements is really beautiful.

BR: I kind of lived under a rock all year, but came out for Hot Chip In Our Heads. And Boston’s Lifestyle re-emerged with Artificial. AND Trent’s band Portage released “Landings,” which is my favorite so far.

FP: What does your live rig look like right now?

BR: I play the Roland family: Juno-60 and SH-101. I wear the SH-101 as a keytar on a few songs—you can’t not.

TW: I’m playing a Moog Little Phatty and an Akai AX60.

BR: We’ve also got our friend, and incredible musician, Ethan Skelton playing live drums. That guy’s on fire. We use Logic to mix, backtrack, send midi events, then run everything to the house through a MOTU 828 mkII.

FP: What can fans expect from the live show?

BR: As of now, live drums make all the difference. It’s a much more rock-oriented spin on the album, and it just makes sense live—there’s a certain energy that wouldn’t be there otherwise. People actually dance now—myself included.

TW: Definitely more rock and roll than you might expect. We expect dancing all around.

FP: What does the band have planned for the rest of 2013?

BR: I just caught up with life after album-launch-mania, and haven’t really had the headspace to think about what’s next. Yet.

Mark Written by:

Avid concert goer and film buff obsessed with indie and electronic music.

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