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In 1991 a group of four boys living in East Lansing Michigan, moved to Minneapolis and formed a rock group called Rank Strangers. At first they played in the Twin Cities as much as they could, but eventually found it easier to get shows out of town. They performed sporadically around the Midwest ‹ Madison, Kansas City, the Iowa towns, routinely in Lincoln and Omaha throughout 1992 and 1993.
They put out an album named Far Cry From Here in the spring of 1993 on a small Minneapolis label named Crackpot. All but one of the reviews the band saw for Far Cry were positive, generally calling the record strong, Midwestern roots rock, which was fair. The band liked the one negative review the best. It called the album Christian Rock and said the group had an evangelical agenda. Of course that was ridiculous, but to this day, people still ask about the review.
In the fall of 1993 the Rank Strangers recorded a collection of songs they called Weeds in singer, Mike Wisti¹s basement. By the spring of 1994 it became apparent that Weeds was not going to appear as a second Crackpot album. The band set about "shopping" their new material to record labels, foolishly hoping for a recording contract. Many phone calls, several shows, fewer meals and one curious year later, the band returned to its collective senses (i.e., nobody signed them). They put the rapidly aging Weeds album in the vaults and set about recording a new record.
Mystery Spot (Veto) was recorded in the previously mentioned basement, (now known as Albatross) and released in the Spring of 1996. Once again notices were favorable with some reviewers hearing how the group's sound had evolved into a tangled, intertextual weave, woven web. Minneapolis's Radio K and Rev-105 regularly played songs from Mystery Spot. The band toured the East coast and continued working in the midwest. Their following increased from 50 of their closest friends and enemies to full houses at the 7th Street Entry, the Turf Club and the 400 bar.
Target (Veto/TRG) is scheduled for release October 7, 1997. It is the group's third and undoubtedly strongest effort to date. They've been told that its more rocking and straight forward than Mystery Spot , but they just think its better.
The Mike Wisti/Jacques Wait song writing partnership is the catalyst to the Rank Strangers sound. Light and dense, hopeful and dark, tense and loose. Wisti Sings "When I got to the Mystery Spot I thought I lost you" Wait replies "I thought I found it now I don¹t." In a Rank Strangers tune everything happens all the time. The songs on Target push their duality not forward or backward, but violently from side to side. "Hydrocortizone" is at once grotesque and beautiful. "My skin is falling off in chunks/My scars they look like road maps...... It's my wife and its my life--Hydrocortizone." "The Gray Nineties² ironically addresses Pre-Millennial issues in the form of gender--"look at Father Time as He¹s falling behind/See how Mother mimes to the color blind in the Gray Nineties." "Girls Don¹t Make Passes (At Boys Who Wear Glasses)" tells us why the narrators girlfriend has nothing to worry about when he goes out alone not only because "She knows without my goggles on I am blind," but also because "I can see clearly I'm not looking so great." "Can't Stop OCD", inspired by a defaced south Minneapolis stop sign, takes a harrowing trip into the paralyzing swamp of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Drummer Doug Durbin has put up with Wisti and Wait for over a decade. Raised to be painfully polite, he is quiet and steady with nerves of steel. He's the George Bailey of rock drummers, working out of sight, doing all that is needed with the least fanfare.
Bass player Davin Odegaard, formerly of the Draghounds (Crackpot label mates of the Rank Strangers) joined the band in time to partake in the "Lost Year" of 1995. He has kept stage-left rock solid ever since. Offstage he can talk your ear off about anything from a new local band to the latest National Geographic special on Gibbons. A pair within a pear, Doug and Davins' Louise balances Mike and Jacques¹ Thelma.
Live the Rank Strangers are pop of the tops. Most nights they'll leave you shaken and stirred, wondering what hit you. The girls will dance and the boys will watch and maybe join in. An interesting cover selection is never a surprise. Their musical lexicon stretches so far and wide that an audience member once commented "The first time I saw them I thought they sounded very 60's influenced, the next time 70's and the time after that 80's; now I don't know what to think." So check it out for yourself. Live or on record, the Rank Strangers are right on. Target, that is.
Rank Strangers Bio 9/18/97