Semisonic perform three unreleased songs live in The Current studio

Semisonic perform their new song, 'Basement Tapes,' live in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan; Mary Mathis | MPR)
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Semisonic perform at The Current
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| 00:19:50
  • Semisonic perform at The Current 19:50
  • Semisonic, 'Basement Tapes' 03:22
  • Semisonic, 'All It Would Take' 02:56
  • Semisonic, 'You're Not Alone' 03:21

Semisonic are on the road again with new music, for the first time in well over a decade. Well, almost. The Minnesota natives reunited in 2017 and played a series of shows around the Twin Cities, debuting a couple new songs with hints of more to come.

Between performing in Milwaukee for Summerfest on July 7 (complete with an emotional cover of Prince's "Take Me With U") and rounding out the Basilica Block Party, Semisonic stopped by The Current to chat new music, California earthquakes, the changing industry, and cults (among other things) with host Mary Lucia.

Semisonic's three original members Dan Wilson, John Munson, and Jake Slichter, along with keyboardist Andy Thompson and percussionist Ken Chastain, performed three unreleased songs, one of which, "You're Not Alone," was performed live for the first time at Summerfest. This is their first new music since 2001, after which the band took a hiatus. (All three songs, the band said later, have been recorded and will appear on a forthcoming release.)

Wilson explained: "For more than ten years, I couldn't figure out [how to write] a song that sounded like Semisonic." Wilson, the group's frontman and principal songwriter, moved to Los Angeles in 2010 and has a robust solo career with the release of three studio albums and two Grammy wins, the latter for his work with the Dixie Chicks and Adele. In 2017, he played songs off his latest release Re-Covered in The Current studio. Three years ago, Wilson explained, he had a creative breakthrough, and found that his songs began to sound again like Semisonic's original flavor.

"I feel like the reason we got back together to record these songs is because you succumbed to my calling you every year going, 'Did you finally write that song that sounds like Semisonic yet?" quipped bassist John Munson.

In regard to playing live as a group again, Wilson compares it to riding a bike, but admits it is sometimes challenging to let go. "I kept having to go wait, stop concentrating, and when that happened everything flowed," Wilson explained referencing the group's Summerfest performance.

"And then there's another aspect of the experience which is like 'oil can, oil can,'" added Munson.

After performing "All It Would Take," the group got to chatting about daily life, which for Wilson includes the occasional earthquake out in California, while Munson and Chastain experienced a whopping 7.1 quake in Alaska. "Ken had the worst of it he was on the top of a building that was going 16 feet in either direction," Munson remembered. "In my underwear, it was awesome," added Chastain.

Last year, the group recorded new material to be released on an unannounced date. "It feels like a natural artistic moment for us," Wilson explained. "It's always fun to be together."

More Video

Songs Performed

"Basement Tapes"
"All It Would Take"
"You're Not Alone"

Hosted by Mary Lucia
Produced by Derrick Stevens
Engineered by Michael DeMark
Visuals by Nate Ryan and Mary Mathis
Web feature by Lydia Moran

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10 Photos

  • Semisonic in The Current studio.
    Semisonic in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan/MPR)
  • Semisonic in The Current studio.
    Semisonic in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan/MPR)
  • Semisonic in The Current studio.
    Ken Chastain performs with Semisonic in The Current's studio. (Nate Ryan/MPR)
  • Semisonic in The Current studio.
    John Munson performs with Semisonic in The Current's studio. (Nate Ryan/MPR)
  • Semisonic in The Current studio.
    Semisonic in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan/MPR)
  • Semisonic in The Current studio.
    Semisonic in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan/MPR)
  • Semisonic in The Current studio.
    Dan Wilson performs with Semisonic in The Current's studio. (Nate Ryan/MPR)
  • Semisonic in The Current studio.
    Dan Wilson performs with Semisonic in The Current's studio. (Nate Ryan/MPR)
  • Semisonic in The Current studio.
    John Munson performs with Semisonic in The Current's studio. (Nate Ryan/MPR)
  • Semisonic in The Current studio.
    John Munson performs with Semisonic in The Current's studio. (Nate Ryan/MPR)