How Big Is Your Album? So Big! Soooo Big!

I haven’t fact-checked what I’m about to write here because a.) I haven’t written it yet, and b.) I will always choose the better story over the truer story anyway. A few years ago a gigantic book appeared by the Chilean writer Alberto Bolano titled “2666.” I’ve always felt a wierd pull towards South American writers. Maybe it’s those fabulous white shirts that they all wear down there like a kind of uniform. “Jorge, put on your white shirt and we’ll sip espresso and write stories about magical tigers and knife fights on the pampas. Then, following a late lunch, we’ll stage a coup.” It does sound like a good life. I’m positive that most writers south of the equator were models for Dos Equiis spokesperson The World’s Most Interesting Man. I digress. Bolano was known for producing brillliantly cut diamonds of short stories. I’d read one or two in the New Yorker and they were very good. His legacy amongst his English-reading constituency was a lock, thanks to a dedicated and gifted translator. I picked up “2666” not knowing anything about it, which was probably for the best. It is a glorious mess.

Bolano had discovered that he was sick. He was a dead man walking. He’d had a life time of books that he wanted to write in a myriad of styles and genres, but his disease had given him a timeline. So he began writing. Styles weave in and out through the pages and chapters. Characters appear and disappear. There are loose ends (but they are beautiful loose ends!). Genres split open and birth other genres that then devour their parent genre. It’s a bloody mess. It is the final work of a man who had to squeeze everything into one last feverish creative endeavor. I don’t think he would have written something that reckless and driven had he been given the opportuneity to live.

In case you’re wondering, I am neither South American nor dying.

When I finished reading the book, I immediately knew that I had to begin doing the same thing with the group of songs I’d been working on since 1999 as Bolano had done with his ideas for books. It’s easy to work on little things and to perfect them, but to work on something large is like wrestling an octopus. An octopus that hates you. Yet, here we are. Next week, Salty is going to record some Sousaphone for our song, “Belly of the Whale.” I have some singing and talking to do. Paul and Bryce have a couple of things to play. Poor Dave has been done with his recording duties since before Teddy Bridgewater had his first kiss. Now Jonathon gets to go to a secret undisclosed location where he and his rich, luxurious beard can mix this album into something wonderful.

So, without further blah, blah, blah — here are the new songs on the album.

Part I

  1. The Invocation
  2. Ice Cream
  3. La Piscina
  4. Crazy Uncle
  5. Brown Flamingoes
  6. Belly of the Whale

Part II

  1. Champagne Migraine
  2. Volcano (Part 2)
  3. Lawrence of Arabia
  4. Firefly
  5. 800 lb. Gorilla (Part 1 & 2)
  6. Kill a Unicorn
  7. Monkey Moonshine Pie

Part III

  1. Volcano (Reprise)
  2. Tatooine
  3. Release the Bats!
  4. Find a Way
  5. Marangatang
  6. Flip Flop Nation
  7. Tonight We Dine

That’s twenty songs, for those of you counting at home on bare feet.


20th anniversary of “Bingo!”

This year marks the 20th anniversary of our first release, “Bingo!” recorded at Barking Dog Records in Fargo, ND. We were all young lads back then, with long hair, denim overalls, and a 30 character website url that required use of the tilde “~” (Angelfire was it? Geocities?)



Jeff’s winking finger gun wave is also having a 20th anniversary.


Songwriters couch convention


Jay before he became Jaydar and ruled the ska world.


Jason and some random guy holding Bryce’s trumpet.


Bryce (I guess) and Steve Wallevand. Also a high school yearbook photo.


Jason, Steve, and Greg Daddy Dewhirst. 

These are the highest resolution photos we have, because 56k dial-up internet connections.

You can’t get Bingo anymore, so if you have a copy consider yourself lucky!

Things for Which 3 Minute Hero Is (and/or are) Thankful.

I hope you know us better than that. Just because your facebook feed is full of posts about this same topic, you don’t actually think that we would bow to peer pressure and share the things that we’re thankful for. Right? Plus, it would be the same things everybody is thankful for: family (yawn), friends (slow blink), and that the United States of America has the sweetest looking flag of all the countries — with the possible exception of Nepal (stay funky with your non-rectangular self!). Then you have to throw in health (if you’ve been healthy) and some other things which are so boring I’m just going to type gobbledygook instead: nvlk;fkj;lasckmvvmlkfl;kdkmv as;lfkjgl aslfkgj saflkj;lasfgjkl; riuoiepeiu.

Maybe we should just talk about the little things I’m thankful for. That couldn’t go south.

  1. We live in a time in which Jeff Lynne is still creating high-quality music.
  2. I have enough unread books stockpiled to last my entire life, yet I am still going to purchase many, many more books.
  3. We are never far from obtaining and consuming a Baker’s Square French silk pie.
  4. The instant gratification that accompanies newly-sharpened cutlery.
  5. It has been said many times before, but we live in the Golden Age of Television.
  6. I have a game on my phone called Smashy Car and I have unlocked seven “Legendary” cars, three of which earn me five times the normal amount of credits.
  7. My children all enjoy playing instruments and making music with other people, which, you know, is arguably one of the greatest joys of life. Nothing funny there. Pure earnestness. Sorry. It’s never too late to learn how to play an instrument. I started playing accordion a few years ago. I’m very bad at it, but it’s also important to realize that part of the joy of playing an instrument is that you look badass while playing it. Yes — even an accordion. Plus, if you quit your book club in order to play in a band, your alcohol consumption is likely to decrease [needs documentation]. With Christmas coming up you should ask your loved ones for an electric bass.
  8. No matter how broke you are, you can always afford a Mitsubishi Hi-Uni 3B drawing pencil, which is the Rolls Royce of pencils. If you get one, be sure to smell it right after you sharpen it. That is the smell of quality.
  9. High quality coffee prepared expertly with the perfect amount of half-&-half added to it. It also helps if it is in my favorite Salt Lake City Winter Olympics mug, which has a wide enough berth in the handle for me to get all four fingers through it. This is no small matter, as my fingers have the same circumference as the leading brand of Italian sausage.
  10. Always having plenty of warm hats around.
  11. A trusted doctor &/or mechanic.
  12. Knowing that ibuprofen takes care of just about anything.
  13. Target.
  14. If you’re a man, you will look good in a tuxedo no matter what.
  15. Having a wife who’s smarter than you.
  16. Nutella.
  17. Nutella and Old Dutch pretzel rods.
  18. Nutella and anything. Even a spoon.
  19. Fleece.
  20. Every month is Movember when you’re self-employed.
  21. The ability to forget things.
  22. Listening to Nina Simone sing “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” and, even if for only a minute or two, believing it. She’s that damn good. Stop reading this right now and go listen to it. It’s just her and a piano and if you’re not holding back a tear at the end of it, I will buy you can of WD-40 for your dead cyborg heart.
  23. “X-Files” in January.
  24. I own scaffolding.
  25. We should all be thankful that water is a universal solvent. Think about how confusing life would be if it wasn’t. See? Terrifying.
  26. We, as humans, see just as much color as we need to.
  27. The future of space exploration.
  28. Anesthesia.
  29. Greek yogurt everywhere!
  30. Aussie fries with ranch, cheese, and ketchup at the Minnesota State Fair.
  31. Baby animals (not birds with their unsettling blue skin-covered eyes though).
  32. Baby humans, but only because they all look like tiny little Winston Churchills.
  33. Cream cheese wontons.
  34. Quality beer that hasn’t been hopped to the point of being undrinkable.
  35. We’re almost done recording this epic triple album for you. We’re closing in on it. Twenty or twenty-one new songs all locally grown and hand-crafted by dedicated music artisans (us). Just two days ago, we were so far along that Jonathon was recording Al’s Champagne flutes to get the right clink for one of the last tracks (“Champagne Migraine”). When you’re recording glassware, you know that you’re almost done with tracking.

That should do it. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at 3 Minute Hero Industries. And if anybody in your family starts bringing up stupid political shit at your otherwise delightful family gathering, just do what I do: start the table on fire and make deafening car noises.

Jumbo-Jet Whispers & Thunder-Lizard Serenades: 0.) The Invocation

Invocations are heavy shit.

One does not invoke a higher power to assist with the clipping of one’s toenails or the preparation of an egg bake. One does invoke a higher power when the possibility of failure is fairly high and the stakes (even if only personal) are commensurate. Well, “aim high,” as the Air Force once said. Of course they have flying machines that rain death and we only have musical gear (but so very much musical gear!)

Stefan Zweig is one of my favorite writers, despite the fact that his entire body of work is one long, protracted howl for help. He said, and I’m paraphrasing here (imagine it with more angst), that the story we keep in us can be perfect. As long as we keep it in the confines of our head, it is without flaw. The moment we let it out and begin to work on it is the moment where our lack of craftsmanship (or, infinitely worse, our lack of imagination to deal with said lack of craftsmanship) can torpedo our spirit and doom a project. That’s why one of the best things you can do in life is to surround yourself with relentlessly creative people who a.) have the ability to not just take a joke, but a relentless barrage of bullshit, b.) pride themselves on making everything they touch better, and c.) aren’t afraid to tell you that something you’ve worked on for a decade doesn’t work, but then do it in such a way that it doesn’t really even bother you, because they have already come up with something far superior. Luckily, that is exactly what we have here at 3 Minute Hero Industries. If we didn’t have that to begin with, there’s no way we would have tried to make this ridiculous behemoth of an album.

I started writing these songs towards the end of our first incarnation, which was way back when some of us were hoarding canned peaches for the imminent collapse of civilization triggered by the Y2K bug. Remember that? I still can’t look at a can of peaches without feeling sheepish. I had enrolled at Minnesota State University Moorhead Normal Teaching College to finish off my English degree because without it, I was a laughingstock of all of the other English lit graduates at the coffeeshop I worked at. I had dropped out to tour with the band and only needed a semester or two to finish things off. I was returning with valuable knowledge. My first stint at college had me picking up a humanities course with a Dr. Robert McGahey. It was an elective and the book list looked interesting so, why not. I gladly accepted every opportunity to increase the breadth of my black-spined Penguin Classics on my bookshelf. Professor McGahey was, what I would soon discover, an archetype; he was a professor right out of central casting. Tweed coat? Check. Elbow patches? Check. Mark Ruffalo degree of unkemptness? Check. Story about road-tripping to meet American Zen luminary Alan Watts on his houseboat unannounced? Check. This guy was the real deal.

One of the first books we dug into was Wolfram Von Eschenbach’s “Parzifal.” It’s the medieval German take on the Arthurian hero’s [spoiler] unsuccessful quest for the Holy Grail. About a third of the way through the book was when the good doctor drew the diagram that kind of ruined my life. It was a circle bisected by a horizontal line. “Why would a childlike drawing of Saturn ruin your life?” you may be asking. Because since that drawing was explained to me, I have seen the same pattern in nearly every single book and every single movie. “Star Wars,” “Ulysses,” “Finding Nemo,” “Hot Tub Time Machine,” “Light in August,” “Henry IV,” “The Lego Movie,” “The Matrix,” “Anchorman,” “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure,” “Lord of the Rings,” ad infinitum. THEY ARE ALL THE SAME STORY. And that’s OK.

Most people, of a certain age, came to this through a series of recorded interviews that Bill Moyers had with Joseph Campbell in the late 80’s collectively called “The Power of Myth.” (Yeth?) Building on the observations of Sir James Frazer’s fascinating doorstop “The Golden Bough,” the relevant work of Swiss psychoanalyst and subconscious man-about-town Carl Jung, and his own extensive research into thousands of myths from around the world, Campbell published “The Hero With A Thousand Faces” early on in his career and continued to see everything through that lens for the rest of his life. By the time he taped “The Power of Myth” conversations he could deftly connect the heroic journey in ancient Sumerian myths to the Promethean flight of Burt Reynolds’ Bandit across the American South with his forbidden cargo of Coors banquet beer. Actually, I made that connection. Not him. But that is precisely what it did to my entire frame of reference: “Smoky & the Bandit” resonates with us because it’s essentially the same story we’ve been listening to since we descended from the baobob trees and whittled our first smartphones. I still haven’t really explained the diagram.

The simple version of the diagram has an “S” just above where the horizontal line slices through the circle on the left side. That stands for “Separation.” Every hero has to leave the comfort of his or her natural surroundings. Frodo leaves the shire, Luke leaves Tatooine, Siddartha leaves the compound. Over on the other side of the circle is “I” for “Initiation.” The hero leaves all that is known and is initiated into the unknown, dipping below the circle. Frodo and friends learn of the dangers beyond their little patch of hairy-footed heaven, Luke learns of the Force, Siddartha sees the sick, old and dead. “R” is on the underbelly of the circle and it is for “Return.” After the hero performs some deed or obtains some treasure that will benefit all of those people who she is returning to, she attempts to go home. Then the hero is met with gratitude, ticker-tape parades, and hastily- fashioned paper mache statues…or not. That’s the abbreviated version. The lengthy, bloated version — and I don’t know about you, but I’ll take lengthy and bloated every time — runs to seventeen steps. Would you care to take a gentle stab at how many songs are on this new album of ours?

You probably guessed seventeen. And you’re right. More on those later, all of this typing is taxing my delicate artist hands. So, before we unpack any of those songs and piles of mythological gobbledygook, we have the invocation:

We waited so long —

Almost too long–

For something true and beautiful to say.

(We waited everyday.)

We never quite found it,

But please help us play it anyway.

Well. Away we go. Goodbye Shire. Goodbye Kansas. Those power converters at Toshi Station are going to have to wait — this Self isn’t going to realize itself.

Let’s not think about that too hard.



All of this particular material is copyrighted ©2015 Jeff Nelson.




3 Minute Hero Announces 2015 Summer Starting Line-up.

While other bands wheeled and dealed to the point of frenzy leading up to Wednesday’s trade deadline, 3 Minute Hero calmly released their starting line-up, apparently confident that last year’s players (with the notable addition of first-round draft choice Matt “Salty McBastard” Hanzelka) will be able to propel them through the season and the play-offs.

“We’ve got a good group of guys — I think we’re going to go far this season. We just have to take it one game at a time,” said every box-of-hammers ever on ESPN. [Tangent: if we eliminated sports interviews and cow flatulence, global warming would just go away like a Tuesday morning hangover].

So here’s the line-up:

Dave Kittelson – 1B/bass/lead bass

Jay Kalk – SS/guitars/vox

Al “Ice” Berg – C/keys

Jonathon TeBeest – P/drums

J.R. Nelson – Goalie/2nd trombone/lead vox

Matt “Salty McBastard” Hanzelka – Punter/1st trombone

Bryce Blilie – Seeker/trumpet

Paul Gronert – Recreational Lumberjack/sax-a-ma-phone


I just double-checked the spelling of everybody’s name and got them all right. Don’t ever misspell a bandmate’s name. That is a punishable offense. I could fill pages with our archaic intra-band system of draconian justice, but I don’t think I can handle Paul running the cheese grater over the backs of my calves again for telling secrets. I’ve already said too much. Please send help.

Interview with 93x


The Minneapolis-based ska ensemble of 3 Minute Hero banded together in 1996 after several jam sessions in the dorms at Minnesota State Moorhead. Get to know 3 Minute Hero as told by lead singer/trombonist, Jeff Nelson.

What brought you all together to be 3 Minute Hero?
What brings together any group of people to be a band? Common love of writing and performing music. The promise of artistic fulfillment. The Scrooge McDuck- sized piles of gold resulting from said artistic fulfillment. Also, the Fargo- Moorhead area, where we started out, is large enough to pull in national acts of all sizes, but the pool of local bands to open for those acts is not huge (or wasn’t, when we were there), so you can be a band just starting out and find yourself opening for Fishbone, which happened to us. Instant gratification for one’s musical endeavours are rare but welcome.

How did you come up with your band name?
It’s the title of a song by The Selector.

How long have you been together performing or creating music?
We’ve had a few incarnations. Version 1.0 started in 1995. We toured hard and recorded three albums from 1995-2000. In 2000, we decided that five years of being on the same bus was enough and that we should take some time to be by ourselves and think about what we had done. We also, in no particular order, got married; had babies; joined other bands; saw the world; and, in one unfortunate turn, moved to Indiana. In 2007 we had our first reunion show. Overwhelmed by the response, we had one the following year. Then another one. Then we started playing new material. Finally, after guitar player, Jay Kalk, moved back from Hawaii and drummer Jonathon Tebeest moved back from New York, we had to admit that we were a real band again.

How would you describe the music you play; what generally do you most identify with & what bands do you most relate to musically?
We play horn rock. Extensive field studies show that it pairs remarkably well with drinking and dancing.

Can you collectively name two of your biggest musical influences? (Or individually)
With eight guys in the band, a list of our influences would read like a playlist of somebody who is, at worst, confused, and at best, musically promiscuous. Performance-wise, we’ve always aimed towards two polestars. James Brown’s live album “Love Peace Power: Live from the Olympia in Paris” in 1971 is the best live album of all-time. That’s an empirical fact. And Elvis’s “Aloha from Hawaii” live album, just for how the flow of a live show should go. And because he’s the King. Not skinny little Elvis; gigantic glorious Old Testament Godzilla Elvis.

What cover music do you play if any at all & are there any specific reason for that particular artist or song?
We don’t do too many covers. We’ve been partial to a band called the Scofflaws. We’ve also been known to bust into a “Lowrider/Final Countdown” medley. Don’t judge.

Who writes your music?
Our songwriting process is a lot like those rogue Russian scientists who sew multiple dog heads onto one body to see what happens. Jay and I have written most of the music. Our current project is one that I presented as a whole to the band and was lucky enough to get everybody’s support on, because it’s enormous. Here are the things are new album is: 1.) a triple-album, 2.) a concept album, 3.) a board game. I shit you not.

Have you been able to record? Where?
We’ve been lucky to record four albums, all in excellent local studios. The last album (“F Minus: Uncollected Works”) and the album we’re currently working on (“Jumbo-Jet Whispers & Thunder-Lizard Serenades”) were/are being recorded at producer/drummer Jonathon TeBeest’s studio in Madison, Wisconsin. I will go on record to say that, yes: it’s worth the drive to Madison. That wasn’t easy for me.

Have you been on tour – where?
We have seen cacti and cheesesteaks in their natural environments.

Where do you normally perform?
In town, we have been playing Bunker’s and Lee’s. Bunker’s is an exceptionally good sounding stage and room. And they let the band make their own cheeseburgers. Lee’s is an institution. Plus, they’ve got a goddamn puma on the wall. A Puma!

How do you plan to expand on the future of your band?
We are at a point where we only do things that we think are awesome. Is there a market for concept-triple-vinyl-board game albums? We honestly don’t give a shit, but we think it’s cool. We believe in it. Our fans – and we easily have the best fandom out there – think it’s fun, and they’ve been with us through all kinds of ridiculousness.

The band’s Facebook and website seem like you guys like to be pretty humorous; is that the same attitude you take when writing music and performing?
Yes. We live in a world where people shoot cartoonists and chop the heads off of innocent human beings. Until our wishes of attachable justice-seeking laser chainsaws are granted, humor is our best weapon against the forces of hatred and the absurdity of everyday life.

Why the unicorn? Your website seems more like a blog? Do you guys consider music as just an aspect of who you are asa band or are there more “serious” things you want people to identify you by?
The age old question: “Why the unicorn?” To which we respond: “Why not the unicorn?” Unicorns are the shit! Unicorns are narwhals with gumption. All it took was one narwhal to ask, “What if we grew legs, hooves, and a beautiful shimmering mane, and crawled out of this briny mess?” Nobody’s ever seen a lazy-ass narwhal majestically galloping up to a waterfall beneath the gentle glow of a full moon, rear up on its hind legs and whinny.

What most memorable experience you have had as a band?
When we discovered that we all share the same set of biological grandparents.

And finally, what is your spirit animal?
The mighty brown bear. I like salmon and berries. I like to sleep. I occasionally lash out and eat people who think I’m tame. Maybe a dragonfly though.

Works in Progress #13: Release The Bats!

Many moons ago, when you were still at your mother’s teat, we played an outdoor show somewhere in Iowa. It was at a college and like all outdoor shows at colleges in Iowa this outdoor show also featured a pig roast.  Normally, this would slide under the radar as an inconsequential detail, but at this time in 3 Minute Hero history, we had a member of a non-Christian monotheistic religion in our retinue. He was (and probably still is) of the Jewish persuasion. This was fascinating to us, for some reason. We would lurk about wagering whether or not he would take part in the ursine feast before him. This particular instance came after a handful of other pig roasts. Had he not taken part, he would have been reduced to the non-existent 3 Minute Hero per diem or, even worse, an emergency sandwich from my cooler consisting of a bread-like substance and off-brand apple butter. He ate the pig. One of our number yelled out, “Release the bats!” and it was hilarious, because, as everybody knows, the releasing of the bats is one of the best parts of the whole entire Pentateuch.

An interesting part of this story that has no relation to what I’m trying to get at is that earlier in the day, Eric Johnson made a heroic frisbee catch, but when he landed, he crushed a baby bunny. Explain THAT to God, Eric.

So, bats. That’s where I was. “Release the bats,” became, over time, a battle cry in the face of the absurd. That’s what this song is to me. We head out on these fool’s errands, we get side-tracked, the side-tracks become the main spurs, we go to Iowa, we eat pigs, we defy our Maker, we crush bunnies.

“With his cape made of wind

And a crown fashioned from junk

He joins the cattle,

Their romance for battle

He is an antique marching band steam punk.

He’s drowning in sweat

From a nightmare more crushing than debt:

He wants a future

All stitched and sutured,

The past on his feet

And the future on his

Head, shoulders, knees, and toes,

Shoulders, knees, and toes,

You know how it goes

So we say it again.

I can.



Release the bats! Flip the switch!

Release the bats! Ring the bell!

Release the bats! Upon my signal…

Unleash hell!

Release the bats, the kind that live beneath our hats,

Won’t somebody please think of the children?


And when he comes home

He is broke, but not broken or alone:

He has stories,

A chest pinned with glories,

And a shell shock fear of the telephone

Ring Ring Ring Ring

Don’t touch that thing!

It’s a relay station

For echolocation

Evasive maneuvers: one and a two and a

Sing. Sing a song. Make it last. Your whole life long.

Sing. Sing a song. ”

What’s that? You think this song should have clarinets and accordions in it? Consider it done, but only because you asked and you read all the way to the bottom.

All of this particular material is copyrighted ©2015 Jeff Nelson.


Works in Progress #12: Kill a Unicorn

Do you know what’s hard? Go ahead, smart-ass — I’ll throw in a caesura here for you to formulate an ultra-perverse answer.

[Excellent work.]

Some people think coal-mining is hard. Some people think landing on and subsequently destroying an earthbound comet is difficult. Child’s play. Writing lyrics to songs? Now we’re getting somewhere. Some of the songs on our forthcoming album have been lodged in my head — like an iron spike — for well over a decade. I thought I knew the words to them. Guess what? I don’t! That’s because the lyrics in my head, which have fit so nicely in these songs for so long, don’t actually fit in the space allotted. I have apparently been given the remarkably frustrating gift of being able to conjure up a 5-gallon music pail and then fill it with 22 gallons of lyrics (most of which are about monkeys, pies, or rage). Do you know how badly those lyrics stain my priceless Oriental rugs?

Enough of my completely valid first-world problems, here are some lyrics that do fit.

“It’s way to late to do us any good —

I should have started earlier: I know.

Now an opportunity has been missed

And everybody’s pissed

Off, and rightfully so.

When you’re young life can go by so slow:

At a glacial pace, at the speed of tree

And waiting on the sideline is me

Waiting for a silver bullet — waiting for a god to fall from the sky

Saying, “Me oh my, get to the front of the line.”

But it’s too late today, it’s too late tonight, it’s too late for me to put up a fight.

It’s too late today, it’s to late tonight I know.

I should have planned ahead

Or even even just planned,

Nothing I do is even in demand.

I could’ve worked harder,

I could’ve done more,

Now all that’s left is to go fight the war.

“The war is over, son.”

I don’t even care who won.


It’s time to grab life by the horn

It’s time for you to get on board:

It’s time to kill a unicorn.


It’s way too late and the sun has come up.

I need something inside this cup.

Do they have coffee at the God-I’m Awesome-Cafe?


This moment shall pass,

It’s just that life goes by so fast

When it’s too damn hot

And you’re down to your last shot.


Run my unicorn, run free,

Over the mountains majestically.

Run my unicorn run —

Over the rainbow and under the sun.”


All of this particular material is copyrighted 2014 by Jeff Nelson. So no writing your own songs about unicorn slaying — at least with these lyrics.


Trains: Variations on a Theme.

Do you know what’s fun? Besides having that dream where you’re fighting ponytail guy in the tippy tops of the bamboo forest in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”? Playing with Reel Big Fish. That was a lot of fun. That happened this past Tuesday at Mill City Nights in Minneapolis. Holy shit! Did you know that there are trains running right in the middle of Minneapolis? Trains! What is this? Trainsylvania? Atlanta? Anyhoo…Mill City Nights is located across the street (and, spoiler alert, train tracks) from Epic. We played Epic once and I was so sick that I exited stage right mid-song, threw up, returned and sang the rest of the song. If that is not the gleaming paragon of Midwestern work ethic, then I quit. Where was I? Trains! We were supposed to have jet cars or at the very least ghost chariots by now. Trains are so 1864. Do you know what else is so 1864? Eric Johnson. For those of you who get all of your 3 Minute Hero news solely through the website or hastily printed handbills, you may want to sit down: I have news of great import. First of all, everybody is OK. Second of all, after 19 years, I have attained the post of First Chair Trombone, so, suck it nerds. Thirdly, Eric Johnson has quit the band in order to work on his model railroad. It is, and I speak from experience, an amazing specimen. It’s an HO gauge layout that depicts a fictionalized Milwaukee of the mid-1950’s. It is beautiful and all of the surviving members of 3 Minute Hero wish him luck on this most noble of callings. Our parting request is that when he has finished this life’s masterwork, he will invite all of us to his inner sanctum. His hair, flecked with gray and curling out from beneath his engineer’s cap will speak of his years spent in solitude, hunched over boxcars and buildings, creating a universe of his own making. When he sweeps the curtain with his hand to reveal the decades of work, we, the remaining members of 3 Minute Hero, will say in a monotone unison, “We all thought you were crazy to quit the band in order to follow your dream of making an HO gauge replica of 1950’s Milwaukee, but clearly, you were right: this is amazing. This is perfect.” And having witnessed perfection, we will disappear in a puff of smoke that will at once seem too small, yet cause Eric to cough violently for days.

Good luck Eric. That was a lot of fun.

Toot. Toot.

Works in Progress #11: Okoboji Volcano [Parts 2 & 3]

What is the price of living in paradise? I’m not talking about dollars or rubles. I’m talking about the trade-offs. Some live in the shadow of volcanoes. Others live on active fault lines. Some of us even live in St. Paul. Regardless, Fate’s drunk ass invariably shows up at our door demanding that which we thought was ours and when she does, you best have your New Balances laced up, a full tank of gas, and a week’s worth of canned goods and bottled water because she is as relentless as she is capricious. This song, “Okoboji Volcano [Parts 2 & 3]” are about living in the shadow of the volcano and about how everything somehow comes together when you need it to. It is to be the first song of the second section of our forthcoming double-album titled “Jumbo Jet Whispers & Thunder Lizard Serenades: The Journey of 3 Minute Hero.”

You always knew / What was best.

I took care of today / You took care of the rest.

All our worries: so petty and small —

It’s so clear now after the fall,

But how can you know when she’s going to blow?

You always knew / What was best about me.

That’s why we’re here / under the coconut trees.

All our worries: so petty and small —

So clear now after the fall,

But how can you know when she’s going to blow?

Breeze blowing in off the ocean — all right.

Breeze blowing in from the sea — oh yeah.

Breeze blowing in through the valley and over the darkness of the water.

Breeze blowing in from the mountain — all right.

Breeze blowing in off the the mountain — oh yeah.

Hey man, that’s not a mountain.

I know that’s not a mountain.

We all know that’s not a mountain.

All right.


Little baby puff of smoke / Everything is okie-doke.

Grab a bag of avocados then we go home.

Chop an onion, squeeze a lime / Guacamole just in time

for beer, chips, and Apocalypse Now.

Good thing we kept the Vespa and not the goats.

Good thing you took that course on how to fly helicopters.

Bingo-bango: sugar in the gas tank.

Bingo-bango: failure can be so sweet.

Bingo-bango: Okoboji volcano.

Driving here, driving there / Driving with no underwear

Lava lava everywhere / That’s a bad poem.

Through the jungle / Through the trees,

Through the ancient idol’s knees.

Pretty, pretty, pretty please: let me go home.

Don’t stop the carnival but do not look back.

Good thing T.C. showed you how to fly his Island Hopper.

Good thing we built our shack up on high land

Upon the packed down sand

You think we’d understand, but you’d be wrong.


You always knew / What was best.

You took car of today. / I took care of the rest.

Our daily worries so petty and small —

It’s so clear now after the fall,

But how can you know when she’s going to blow?


All of this particular material is copyrighted ©2014 Jeff Nelson.