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Video Premiere: "You Must Destroy What Will Destroy You" by Saint Small

15 August 2022

Photo Credit: Carol Bergquist

Saint Paul Minnesota’s Saint Small return with their first release since the pandemic, a 6-song CD EP titled THANK YOU FRIENDS. With songs about topics as varied as a Macalester College love triangle, the plight of the local musician, Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott, and ’70s TV show James At 15, the record’s centerpiece is first single “You Must Destroy What Will Destroy You,” which pretty much sums up the past few years of Life-As-We-Know-It. “It’s about overcoming our obstacles, moving forward in a messed up world,” lead singer and guitarist Jim McGuinn Slusarek tells Big Takeover. “On the surface it’s about a failed relationship, but it’s also Covid, Ukraine, America in 2022 – you name it!” The other theme of the record is family, on a song like “Sins of the Father,” about which McGuinn adds, “there’s a hurt we put on each other across generations, especially as men, in quiet codes and louder actions, and how difficult it is to shake that history. Fathers to sons, but also religions, schools, governments.” Heady stuff for a little band from Saint Paul, who met as hockey dads and found commonality in their shared musical loves and rock and roll pasts, including stints in bands like Superhopper, BNLX, Puppies and Trains, Twin Ion, The Mighty Blue Kings, Cordalene, and more. The phrase “saint small” refers to how a city can be a village, where everyone you meet seems to be connected, and you learn that it’s a (Saint) Small world after all. They’ve opened for Spinal Tap (the movie), shot a video on ice skates (Skate Sharpener) and been described as “one of the most intelligent bands around, having too much fun to put on airs, but like spending an evening with that friend who has the record collection about which the rest of us can only dream.”

The band recorded THANK YOU FRIENDS at The Palace, McGuinn’s basement studio, and since the release of their 2019 EP, have added Twin Cities jazz luminary Larry McDonough on organ and piano. “Larry is an amazing musician,” said McGuinn,“we’re lucky he lives on my block, and that he’s up for slumming it this rock band!” The EP features guests Meghan Kreidler of Kiss the Tiger duetting on “The Ballad of the Opening Opening Band,” and trumpeter Paul Odegaard on “The Boys and Girls of Tomorrow” and “Somewhere Between a Boy and a Man.” Says McGuinn, “I heard the Slim Dunlop song the Ballad of the Opening Band, and realized – we usually open for the opening band, and the song wrote itself at that point. It was a thrill to get our recording to Slim’s family and hear how much he dug it.” Saint Small has been gaining support from members of legendary TC bands, with musicians like Greg Norton of Husker Du/Ultrabomb, Dan Murphy of Soul Asylum/Golden Smog, Tina Schlieske, Craig Finn of The Hold Steady, and John Munson of Semisonic coming to recent shows or sending words of praise. Adds McGuinn, “That’s music we love, and it’s pretty amazing to connect with other lifers like that through the music we’re making now. While none of us in Saint Small played in famous bands, we’ve all been at it for decades of sweaty nights on small stages, and it’s rewarding to earn their respect. Every show, every recording, it’s a gift and a joy.”

THANK YOU FRIENDS is available for purchase on the band’s Bandcamp page, and streaming everywhere. Coming in a few weeks will be Saint Small’s Greatest Covers, which finds the band dabbling on songs ranging from Elvis Costello to Wet Leg to Martin Devaney. “Ssshh! That was going to be a secret,” closed McGuinn, “but while we were recording THANK YOU FRIENDS we cut a few of our favorite covers and wanted to share them with everyone – we feel so much appreciation and gratitude, we just want to share all the music we can right now.”