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Milwaukee band keeps it together by falling apart

By John Sepulvado, CNN Radio
Sat. Nite Duets' songs seem to fall apart at times right before they come back together.
Sat. Nite Duets' songs seem to fall apart at times right before they come back together.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sat Nite Duets have been described as purveyors of slacker-pop
  • The members all share a humor laced with quirk
  • Each member of the band helps write songs and has equal input

(CNN) -- A couple of weeks ago, three guys from a Wisconsin band sat down for an interview. Steven Strupp, Ben Gucciardi and John Anderson are in the band Sat. Nite Duets.

It was their first national media interview, and almost immediately, they shared their plans for the weekend.

"We're going to a nude beach," Anderson said. "On a river."

"Outside of Madison with hopefully a bunch of hippies," said Gucciardi.

"We're going to be the creepiest guys there," Anderson said.

"I'm bringing my digital camera." Gucciardi added.

Sat. Nite Duets have been described as purveyors of slacker-pop, as hipsters, and as '90s indie rock copy-cats. And it's easy to get the impression that they just don't care. The members all share a humor laced with quirk, and often their songs seem to fall apart at times, right before they come back together.

"I think the sound of [our songs] is kind of misleading," Strupp said. "If it sounds a little sloppy, it means we're not the most proficient musicians."

And often, through their videos and in their album cover art, it seems Sat. Nite Duets is clothing-averse. Male nudity, not exactly a staple of rock and roll, is a constant theme.

"We all have great body images," Gucciardi deadpanned.

An American band

Something you should know about the Sat. Nite Duets' twentysomething band members: They care about more than just playing music and hanging out in the nude.

Right now, Wisconsin is in the middle of a contentious legislative recall election. The recalls stem from a political fight over the state budget, public employee unions and public school teachers' benefits. The band spoke at length about what they saw as the unfair treatment of public- sector employees, and about the self-imposed racial segregation of Milwaukee.

"I feel living in Wisconsin, a lot of the stuff is affecting us in big ways...and makes [our concern] more immediate than before," Gucciardi said.

But, instead of writing politically charged songs or throwing themselves into election-year fights, the band has focused on poking fun at societal outrages. When there were national calls to ban the alcoholic Four Loko drinks, the band featured the beverages heavily in their video for 'All Nite Long.'

Strupp said there are other bands that can tackle politics, and what it means to be an American, much more effectively. And all the members of the band said they don't pretend to have the life experience needed to write socially conscious songs.

"We're not into wearing this kind of seriousness on our sleeves," Gucciardi says. "Like 'we suffered over this.'"

Still, there is a hint of political awareness, even in the band's name:

Sat. Nite Duets is an anagram for United States.

Poised for a breakthrough

One of the group's biggest backers is Ryan Matteson. He runs the music site, Muzzle of Bees. Like most of Sat. Nite Duets' fans, he heard their songs after a friend sent him a link to the band's website.

"I listened to it and it was instantly rock and roll, a type of rock and roll I had been missing," Matteson said. "I think this band has so much potential. And I really think once people hear them for the first time ... it's going to be really hard for people to resist those songs."

Each member of the band helps write songs, each member has equal input. Right now the band is content with the success they've achieved. They've been mentioned in GQ. The Onion's AV blog listed "Throwback Man" as one of the greatest videos of all time. And each week, the band gets e-mails from new fans around the country who stumbled onto the band.

"I think one of the best kinds of success," Strupp said, "is having people write us an e-mail saying they like what we're doing."

"Yeah, this one guy told us he had sex with his girlfriend in his grandparents' bed while listening to our album," Gucciardi interjected.

Strupp paused, and said he didn't know how he felt about that.

"I feel pretty good about it," Gucciardi responded.