As balloons whizzed above a crowd of University of South Dakota students and other locals from the area in the basement of The Varsity on Saturday night, Mike Helland was surprised to see the amount of enthusiasm the crowd radiated as they pressed against the stage he and fellow band members Drew Hellend and Brandon Phrommany were performing on.
“I was expecting a little rowdiness, but not as much as what was shown,” Mike said.
The performance marked the launch of Tenenbaums’ first self-titled EP, something the band members said has been a long time in the works.
“It’s really DIY,” Drew said. “Nothing fancy, but it sounds great.”
Tenenbaums is comprised of USD juniors Drew on drums, and Phrommany, who is the guitarist and vocalist, along with Bethany Lutheran College student Mike on bass. Both Drew and Phrommany are pursuing media and journalism degrees, while Mike is studying communications.
The group formed last summer, during which time the songs on the EP were recorded. The majority of the short album was recorded in one day, and everything, including the artwork, was created by the band.
The indie rock band defines their music as dreamy.
“What we try to go for is just a huge wall of sound,” Drew said.
The band is currently only selling physical copies of the self-titled EP when fans contact them through Facebook, but they are looking into ways to sell electronic copies online.
The band often opens live performances with “Maple Street,” based off an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” Drew said the song, his favorite, is the quintessential Tenenbaums’ song and is about individual’s breaking points.
“It’s really atmospheric,” Drew said. “It’s really big sounding, and Brandon has some sweet vocals on it. It’s just a big song.”
Phromanny’s favorite song on the EP is “45 Minutes,” a song he wrote based off a dream.
“I had a really weird dream where I was on the beach and there was a girl in the ocean and a whole bunch of plane parts and boat parts were coming out of the ocean and into the sun,” Phrommany said. “I thought that was the coolest dream I’ve ever had, so I decided to write about it.”
Because Mike attends school in Mankato, Minn., the members of the band often practice playing their instruments along with the CD. For the launch party, Mike — Drew’s twin brother — drove to Vermillion.
Looking to the future, the band might release a LP, a full-length album, and is considering creating a music video.
“We do have enough for a full album, but with school we’re kind of grounded right now,” Drew, who has written music reviews for The Volante, said. “We’re up for it, though.”
But where the band is happiest isn’t recording songs, but up on stage.
“You’ll see me smiling a lot because crowd interaction is the best,” Drew said. “We’re just trying to have fun.”
“One main part of the band is live music,” Mike said. “I would love a live tour.”
(Tenenbaums bassist Brandon Phrommany plays his bass guitar during a performance at The Varsity in downtown Vermillion Saturday night. Braley Dodson / The Volante)