Dance-y rock music is sorely underrepresented in 2016. Instead, business-as-usual includes high-speed drumming, and melody in lieu of rhythm.
Unlike other proclaimed dietary supplements, it seems The Controversial New Skinny Pill can solve our musical hankerings.
“We definitely have an 'art-y' sound,” guitarist Skyler Nowinski said. “But every song should sort of make you want to dance.”
To be clear, Minneapolis band The Controversial New Skinny Pill doesn’t write dance-rock songs like New Order or Sly & The Family Stone. Instead, they sound more like Talking Heads, with twitchy guitar and funkified bass.
“I grew up listening to disco music,” Nowinski said. “Rock ‘n’ roll didn’t come about until later in life, about high school.”
The Controversial New Skinny Pill began as a solo project in 2014. Originally, the music was for Nowinski’s ears only.
“For a while I was just goofing around,” Nowinski said. “And then I was jokingly asked to play some event.”
Nowinski, a newcomer to the Minneapolis music scene, enlisted the help of his friends: drummer Alana Horton and bassist Daniel Dukich. The three played a very bare interpretation of their set.
“I am personally a huge fan of that stripped down stuff,” Nowinski said. “Maybe not necessarily with production, but live shows. That super, super simple, and yet deceptively complicated stuff.”
Eventually, Skinny Pill sought to fill out their sound.. The trio became a four-piece when they found keyboard player, and backing vocalist, Mariel Oliveira.
“There just so happened to be an opening for me when I asked,” Oliveira said. “After meeting everyone in the band, I noticed that they have a really visible bond. I was like, ‘I want to join that club.’”
Since then, the group has played live around Minneapolis to general acclaim. Their live shows are as bizarre and striking as one would expect of such jangly provocateurs.
But the boundaries of their music are more adequately explored when listening to their records. Their newest — “Big Whoop!” — includes a special brand of freaky funk and utilizes recording techniques usually found in lo-fi.
“I’ve been trying to hone in on my synth lines,” Oliveira said. “And my bitchin’ ’80s solo skills.”
Up until now, Nowinski has been satisfied with keeping the band’s recognition low-key. However, The Controversial New Skinny Pill is entering a new phase of popularity — a phase where Nowinski and company might have to begin taking the band more seriously.
“We haven’t played out of town,” Nowinski said. “And we also goof around a lot. But I’d like to change that and start playing larger venues and having our next record be heard.”
What started as a bedroom guitar project has evolved into a loud, off-kilter four piece that’s always looking to expand and grow.
“My big goal right now is to not just ‘flip over the table’ and stop,” Nowinski said. “But on the opposite side the goal is to not overstay our welcome. I just want to write songs that me and the band both like playing.”