No Encore: New Minneapolis Duo Cook Up ‘90s College Rock Hooks on “Cemetery Gates”

No Encore is a two-piece, garage-y rock band from Minneapolis. Interestingly, their pedigree is hardly melodic rock. Drummer Karl Hensel is best known for his time in Holding On and Martyr A.D., while vocalist/guitarist Brent Hedtke is a lifelong Minneapolis hardcore head (and Metallica cover band afficionado).

Perhaps that matters for some, but really those bands offer stark contrasts to what Karl and Brent are up to in No Encore. As Karl affectionately puts it, “Instead of going Hüsker Dü and Leatherface, we go Sugar and the first three Goo Goo Dolls records. We’re punk adjacent, but it's not super raspy punk stuff.”

No Encore brings the infectious melodies of '90s alternative bands while also infusing their songs with an underground veracity that can only come from years spent playing hardcore and punk shows. And today we’re psyched to premiere the band’s first music video for the song “Cemetery Gates” off their debut LP, Halfway to the Exit, due out digitally at the end of September:

For a while there, No Encore was just a bit of a social experiment between Karl and Brent. “Send demos if you can’t practice. Show up to practice, and spend no more than an hour per song. If it clicks in an hour, record the demo and refine from there. It’s a lesson in what steps you have to take with a busy family life and professional life,” offers Hensel. And so it was that No Encore was a way for the two to stay connected, make some fun music, and maintain some level of creativity.

But it was the untimely death of a mutual friend that offered them a moment of introspective clarity. “This album started out as just doing demos to document what we were writing. Then we lost a friend and former Holding On bandmate, Sean Lipinski, in January, and his current band Sunset had a bunch of really good songs they never got to record with him before he passed away. It motivated us to just document these songs because it drove home the point that you never know when your time will come, and it was real. It wasn’t some cliché,” Hensel reflects.

With Sean’s death, Karl and Brent knew that No Encore needed to be something more than their fun back-burner project. Now their music has become an interesting homage to both their widening musical creativity and a friend lost far too soon.

“Cemetery Gates” rocks with the lo-fi grungy vibe that No Encore is bringing back into the underground. The guitar-work creates an ambient but punchy vibe that is emboldened by poppy and flowing drum beats. The songs flows with a rocking melody anchored by clever and subtly cutting lyrics, crescendoing and closing with the line “Down in the gutter where the bleeding hearts won’t go.”

No Encore is onto something with both sound and lyrical content here, that’s for sure. Watch, listen, repeat.

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