What Tyrants
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What Tyrants

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Rock Punk




"Bands to Watch"

…What Tyrants create brilliant noisy guitar pop, and the latest single ‘Muffins’ is packed with cocksure swagger… Sean Schultz’s shouted vocals are gnarly as hell, backed up by tumbledown post-punk reminiscent of The Fall. - NME

"Track Premiere: What Tyrants – “No Luck” Plus Tour Dates"

If this is a tyrant, when’s the facist revolution?! Like a tin-can Hives striving for a sun’s coming up good time, the Minneapolis trio What Tyrants have had a 7-inch so far, but soon enough they’ll have their first album, No Luck, out March 24 via cassette and digital on Forged Artifcats. We’re debuting the titular track that surf-rolls out and ahead like the summer night we’re all desperately pining for. - Eric Davidson - CMJ

"What Tyrants are the definition of high-energy rock 'n' roll"

One of the more important aspects of being in a band together is trust. It's something that the brothers in What Tyrants have had a lifetime to develop. "Kyle and I have been playing together since second grade," says lead vocalist and guitarist Sean Schultz of his brother Kyle, the band's drummer.
The two are lounging with bass player Garrison Grouse in the basement of his South Minneapolis home, the band's de facto practice space and recording studio during so many all-night sessions. They are taking a break from assembling sleeves for their new 7-inch Hanging Out in Havana, which they will release Tuesday evening at the 7th Street Entry, to talk to Gimme Noise about everything that has led up to this moment.

Sean, who is three years older than Kyle, began taking guitar lessons early on. Not wanting to play the same instrument as his brother, Kyle began taking drum lessons around the same time. "We did a lot of covers," Sean says. "I think the first song we learned to play together was 'Walls,' a Tom Petty song." They went on to play together in several "shitty high school bands," until the first incarnation of What Tyrants, which "was a completely different band," Sean continues. "I played keys, we had a different guitar player and a different bass player as well."

Eventually, the original guitar player left. "He and I hadn't been vibing together for some time," Sean explains. After being unsuccessful in their search for a permanent bass player after Sean left his keyboard behind and jumped in on guitar, the brothers opened their eyes to the talent that had been in front of them this whole time: Grouse, who plays in Sean's other band, Black Diet, and who recorded and produced What Tyrants' material in his basement studio, Grouse Productions.

Since then, the band has gravitated towards a garage rock sound. "There's a lot of people doing something like this, "Sean says,"but we're a little bit different." When asked what the term "garage rock" means to them, the band bring up the Stooges and Ty Segall. We pushed Sean to explain what "garage rock" is without using other bands as a frame of reference.

"It's a lot in the simplicity of the songwriting," he says. "I used to always try to force things. There was kind of a moment where I just saw myself over-thinking and wanted to just let the songs and the chords speak for themselves."

"I'd say simple, high-energy rock 'n' roll," Grouse pitches in. Kyle agrees. "To put it in the simplest of terms, a lot of songs are loud and fast," he says. "We filter it through our own sensibility, and it sounds a bit different inherently through that."

At the moment, Sean handles most of the songwriting. "That's why I was so excited to bring Garrison into the band -- he has more of an ability to take on that role of writing." Grouse actually didn't play bass on Hanging Out in Havana, but he did record it. "I put some slap-back on the vocals to get them to sound more gritty," Grouse says. "You know the band Television? Or the band Death?" he asks. "I wanted it to sound more like that. This band has a very post-punk influence."

Since joining the band, Grouse has tweaked the bass parts a bit to fit his own sensibilities better. Interestingly, Grouse actually met the band at their first performance at the Nomad a couple of years ago. Then, he met Sean again at practice for Black Diet -- the enormously successful garage rock/soul band that actually found many of its original members on Craigslist.

"Black Diet is very soulful, upbeat and happy," Grouse says. "With What Tyrants, it's still high energy but it's grittier and darker sounding. It has more attitude to it."

"It's a place musically where we can break and string and just keep playing," Sean concludes.

Side A of the album features the title track "Hanging Out in Havana," which Sean calls a "cynical" song. At just under 3 minutes, "Hanging Out in Havana" is a simple, hard-hitting post-punk track full of vitriol, backed by elegant, surf-rock reminiscent guitar chords. It's catchy and fun, but certainly has somewhat of a dark undertone. Just when you think the song has dissolved into a sea of feedback, a moment of silence brings you right back into it, with Sean's voice kicking in once again over a seemingly even more aggressive musical landscape. Images of a mosh pit come to mind, as do memories of listening to punk music in Southern California at a bonfire on the beach.

"It's making fun of white people vacations," Sean explains: "In Havana/ On a beach/ Feelin' super/ Feelin' ripped/ So excited/ On the town/ Trying to find my get-around."

"One of my proudest stealing moments was stealing a line from the Sword and the Stone, the cartoon version," Sean says. "I was writing the song and watching the movie, and the wizard says the line, 'Blow me to Bermuda.' I don't like to write about happy things. I like to write about things that make me angry or frustrated. It helps me reconcile."

Side B features "Far Out," a song contemplating the notion of hypocritical judgment. "The lyrics are pretty sharp, and they're directed at somebody," Sean says. "They're also introspective. It's a way to remind myself not to be so critical."

"It's hard to see somebody else and not to judge them sometimes," Kyle comments. "You're not going to get along with everybody, but you've got to remember that somebody is looking at you at the same time... One of my friends had a guy with him once who was talking shit about everyone else. I was like, you don't know them at all! It made me question my friend's choice in company. On the other hand, sometimes you just have to judge people."

"A lot of people judge the fact that I do music for a career, because they think that just because I don't have a 'real' job that I don't do anything," Grouse adds. "That's not true. Because I do music for a job, I'm often doing a shit-ton of little jobs at a time to make it pay, otherwise I'm not going to get paid anything. I usually don't get judged too crucially as far as my appearance, but sometimes when I go out to certain downtown bars I get labeled as some hipster dude who thinks I'm better than them, but that's not the case at all," he argues.

"I like getting myself in situations that are different, because I like all kinds of people. I like being able to go everywhere with my friends," he says.

With Grouse finally a part of the band, it feels like What Tyrants are starting fresh. Their plan is to schedule time once the release show is finished to record their first full-length. They've already written 12 songs, and anticipate writing several more, then choosing their favorites for the future release. "I'm excited for how it turns out," Sean says. "I just hope that people dig the tunes." - Sarah Stanley-Ayre

"Hymie's favorite local albums of 2015"

'We struggle to explain how Earth-shatteringly awesome we find this album to be, and end up just telling people that it “kicks ass.” So look — since you’re reading a record store’s blog (and not even a particularly fancy record store) we’ll assume you love rock and roll in some form or another. We might not all agree on which is the Kinks’ best album or whether or not the Velvet Underground without John Cale is really the Velvet Underground, but we all love rock and roll. It helps us deal with all the things in life that don’t rock.

What Tyrants fits fits Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous remark: “I know it when I see it.” And what we know, hearing the unbelievably kick-ass tour de force of No Luck, is that this band rocks. These tapes should have come with a warning label, because they’re addictive' - Hymie's Vintage Records

"Greg Grease, What Tyrants, the Cactus Blossoms, and more: This week’s Minnesota record releases"

Surf-rock titans What Tyrants are back with their first full-length, No Luck. Their previous self-titled 7” showed their strengths, and their fast-paced crunchy rhythms are once again pouring out of whatever basement depths they came from. Amidst the garage-rock explosion that has been happening in Minneapolis, What Tyrants stand tall with Sean Schultz (Black Diet) on vocals and his brother Kyle’s splashy drum playing. Schultz can go from gruff to sweet on vocals, giving this high-energy rock-trio an edge. They will celebrate the new release at the Triple Rock on April 3. - The Current

"Fresh Licks: What Tyrants - Muffins"

The brilliant Forged Artifacts signal their march in to 2015 with the release of the debut album from What Tyrants, which drops later this Spring. The brilliantly raucous trio from Minnesota will release the thirteen-track ‘No Luck‘ on March 24th and we’re super pleased to premiere the lead track from it today.

A blistering two-and-a-half minutes of scrappy, loose-limed garage pop, ‘Muffins‘ is a perfectly obvious lead track, swallowing all around it with its forcible but delightfully addictive reach. The guitars are suitably aggressive, a chasm of meaty riffs that link arm-in-arm with the percussion to propel the track forward at break-neck speed and set a solid backdrop for that ragged and restless vocal to simply run riot.

The most relentlessly satisfying 150-seconds you’ll have all day... - GoldFlakePaint

"Album reviews: What Tyrants - No Luck"

It’s not yet April and already 2015 has been a banner year for power pop trios here in Minneapolis. One of the first local releases we reviewed here was New Noir by Mystery Date, which hasn’t been far from our turntable since. No less an authority than Maximumrockandroll picked it as“record of the week” recently, describing it as “strangely catchy and poppy, while also a little bit eerie and dark.” And if you finally unsnagged yourself from all the hooks on Rank Strangers‘ new album Lady President, you’ll find yourself caught up in them all over again: the band plans to release two more LPs before the end of the year.

And then there’s this disc which — to borrow a phrase from that Maximumrockandroll review — blew our socks off. What Tyrants’ debut, No Luck, is an addictive album at the nexus between garage rock, power pop and the down-on-my-luck, unemployed and unrequited-love tunes of Mike Ness. Brothers Sean and Kyle Schultz play their respective parts on guitar and drums with the sort of intuition we suppose you’re supposed to expect from brothers — and bassist Garrison Grouse walks through the trios tight arrangements with class and charm not at all removed from John Entwistle’s role on Live at Leeds. Absolutely everything about this disc succeeds in reminding us why we love rock and roll in all its glorious forms.

What Tyrants’ first release was a single featuring an earlier version of this album’s catchy opener, “Far Out.” It fell flat on our ears last summer for its lo-fi production. There’s nothing wrong with sounding good, even in garage rock: its why, for instance, we love a good 45 of the Standell’s “Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White” played loud, and its why we love No Luck so much. Killer tunes “Lean on the World” have a fantastic drive, given the same healthy li’l nudge by their clean drum sound. Recording engineer Ali Jaafar knows how to hit that garage-y sweet spot, even though his Ecstattic Studio is actually in an attic (and incidentally, give a listen to this recent compilation of other surprisingly diverse Ecstattic recordings). The record has the right rough edges, especially in its reverb-tastic vocals and crisp lead riffs, and you’re going to find it best played loud.

And you should, because it touches on all the things that makes one want to play a record loud. The trio approaches classic arena rock in the magnificent “Feeling Alright (I’m Okay)” — a song which we think oughta join Dave Mason’s “Feelin’ Alright” and the Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll” in the great canon of rock songs about, you know, feelin’ alright — with the same stunning success as their take on the whole garage rock thing. Shades of rockabilly make “4s and 5s” a fun song, just before good old fashioned punk rock steals the scene moments later in “Scuzz,” where Grouse and Kyle Schultz jumps into an unexpected psych rock breakdown just before the end of its minute and forty second mania.

here’s even a few little hints of the rhythm & blues vis-à-vis new wave Sean Schultz and Grouse have been performing together with ol’ Hymie’s favorites Black Diet, as in the Television/Blondie-ish rocksteady beat of “Blue in the Face.” What Tryrants put the whole mix together with originality and striking sincerity — its like they raided our record collection and found new ways to make our favorites work together. And it all works so well: If we may borrow again from that Maximumrockandroll review of the Mystery Date album, “these guys clearly believe in what they’re doing.” This is one of our very favorite local releases yet out this year. You’ll be hearing it a lot around here. - Hymie's Vintage Records

"Featured shows of the week..."

Following a short tour of the Midwest, the Minneapolis garage-rock trio What Tyrants mark the release of their full-length debut, No Luck. Their new collection — out on Forged Artifacts — bristles with a jangly, guitar-fueled urgency that hooks you in straight away. Their boisterous tunes feature riffs and energetic rhythms galore. Fury Things, Some Pulp, and Ripper will all bring their jams to the party, with Stereo Confession joining in the fun with a DJ set between acts. - City Pages

"Isthmus Pick - What Tyrants @ The Frequency"

This Minneapolis-based garage pop band deliver a face full of punk energy and scrappy guitars on their debut album, No Luck, just released this week. We're willing to bet that their raucous sound and deep-cutting observations will translate well to the stage. - Isthmus


2014 - Hanging Out in Havana / Far Out 7" (self released)
2015 - No Luck (Forged Artifacts)



From the moment No Luck kicks on, its apparent What Tyrants are on a mission to pack as much relentlessly paced riffage into their 13-track debut album as humanly possible. And they succeed wildly in doing so. The power trio, made up of brothers Sean and Kyle Schultz and Garrison Grouse, have distilled touchstones from noise pop, post-punk, and surf into short, fuzzed-out sonic outbursts, freakouts that go down easy and beg repeating. The songs are also an opportunity for Sean Schultz to lay down some hard truths. But while Schultz may deliver wallops of unblinking cynicism in telling stories of best friends, life's tribulations and the occasional neighborhood bank robbery, he's always quick to balance it with a dose of self-reflection... and sometimes self-loathing. In the end, and above all else, No Luck is really about letting it all hang out and having a good time. When life gets you down and you can't catch a break, just remember not to sweat it.

Band Members