Mouthful of Bees is a band fond of tangents. Its members are also fond of joking around, so it's hard to tell when these tangents -- a love of Eddie Money's "Baby Hold On," say, or drummer Katelyn Farstad's assertion that their next album will be "the greatest rock record of all time" -- are serious. (For the record, respectively: They like it so much they're covering it; she was kidding, but she's very proud of their new songs.) But Mouthful of Bees has reason to be distracted.
It was a crazy 2007 for the beloved Twin Cities indie-pop band, a year that began with their hyper-hyped debut record "The End," included best-new-band honors in City Pages' Picked to Click poll and ended with a booking at Friday's "Best New Bands of 2007" show at First Avenue.
"The End," a flurry of poppy distortion, was rightly praised. The record is a marvel, a collection of songs so raucous they sound like they're on the verge of implosion. The songs are also insanely catchy; the result is a combination of the Beatles and the Stooges.
But 2007 was also tumultuous for Mouthful of Bees. It was the year their frontman took a semester-long sojourn to Russia, and the year the band nearly broke up while running on fumes.
It's something of a miracle, then, that the band is together at all. But here they all are, minus new keyboardist Simon Larson: Farstad, 19, her brother and guitarist/lead singer Chris, 21, guitarist Mark Ritsema, 19, and bassist Micky Alfano, 20.
Chris' school trip to Russia coincided with creative exhaustion, as well as the band's overall malaise. "I was frustrated," says Chris. "It's not that I wasn't satisfied with people. ... "
He trails off, unsure how to finish his thought, and Katelyn interjects. "We were just really burned out," she shrugs.
Alfano nods, adding, "We could tell Chris really wanted someone to bounce ideas off of."
Their hiatus clearly helped things, as did the addition of Larson, 21, a friend who had always been around, helping out the band with recording. "It's a huge change," says Chris, slumped on a couch at the apartment shared by Ritsema and Katelyn. "But it's a good change. It's just so much more rewarding. Even knowing someone to say, 'No, that sucks,' is good. It's a good working relationship."
When asked how their new songs will compare with the blissed-out fuzz that is "The End," Chris responds immediately: "They're gonna sound well-recorded, more thought-out."
Their debut was recorded in about a week, and MoB is clearly eager to give the followup more time -- so much time that, despite having written a handful of tunes, they don't expect to release a record until fall.
"There's gonna be [a record]," says Katelyn, "but there's only a faint idea of what's gonna be on it. It'll be a record eventually."
In the meantime, the band is happy just to be together again. A recent Triple Rock show, its first in months, was well-attended, and with two more on the docket this weekend (First Avenue on Friday and Uptown coffeehouse the Beat on Saturday), Mouthful of Bees shows no sign of slowing down.
"It feels," says Chris, "like we're complete now."