A Chat With Young Minneapolis Fusion Rock Band Why Not

Why Not is a rock band hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Formed in 2015 by members Joshua MacGregor, Isaac Dell, and Henry Breen, the band combines numerous genres such as punk, jazz, math rock, and psychedelic rock to create a unique strain of rock adorned with ornaments and elements of the other aforementioned genres.

The initial Why Not project began as an idea for a progressive metal band. However, as the trio continued to work with one another, experimented with different sounds and songwriting methods, and engaged heavily with the local Twin Cities DIY scene, which undoubtedly has had a major influence on their sound and aesthetic, they shifted and morphed into something else entirely. 

The Why Not that we hear today is more represented in their newer work, like in their new single ‘Ding Dong’, which is a punk-psychedelic-rock-electronic amalgamation that invites the listener to embrace their world and them. The song shifts from one mood to the next, and so do the lyrics, but the result is a stylish and unique rock song that contains undeniable energy.

In addition to their sound, Why Not is known for their energetic live shows that have drawn significant crowds and attention from local media in the Twin Cities Area. Along with their local shows, the band has opened for numerous major recording artists including Motion City Soundtrack, Beach Bunny, Lunar Vacation, Citizen, Defeater, It Looks Sad., Heart to Gold, and many others. 

The myriad of influences and openness to experimentation certainly doesn’t stop with the immediate band members. The band’s recent release of ‘EP’ was produced by Normal Parent’s Caleb Hinz (Hippo Campus, Samia, Baby Boys, The Happy Children) who added another sonic layer of post-production magic that further expanded the horizons of what Why Not was able to be. 

Music Mecca: Where did you guys meet, and how did you start playing music together?

Isaac Dell: We met in middle school at Great River School in St. Paul, Minnesota. Henry and I had a couple other little projects before Josh started playing drums in the band. Our high school music class was super formative for us and was really where we formed our musical chemistry.

MM: How important is your creative control to you as a group?

ID: We love experimenting and we don’t really fit in to one genre or style because of that. For us, creative control is super important because our music reflects ourselves. As long as we’re a band, we’ll have creative control of what our music sounds like, what our merch looks like, and what our shows are like.

MM: Do you take a more individualistic or collaborative approach to songwriting?

Henry Breen: Our approach to songwriting often varies from song to song. Sometimes one of us will have a very simple idea that we’ll try to expand on as a group and sometimes Isaac or I will come with a fully finished song that we’ll just teach everyone else. Lately we’ve even tried writing songs as we record it, which was a strange transition of workflow. However it may be constructed, I have found that everyone is able to add their own personal flair to the parts, which always makes the end product a collaboration to some extent.

MM: What’s the central value or message you want to communicate to your audience?

HB: I would hope that through the music itself, as well as our day to day interactions with our audiences and friends that we try to exemplify and send the message of spreading love and working hard. It’s just a universal part of achieving goals and makin’ them money moves. I don’t know if that’s how it actually comes across, but that’s what I would hope, lol.

MM: Judging from your releases, you all seem to value authentic self-expression of yourselves, your stories, and your experiences. How important is it to communicate your own life and experience in your music?

HB: I think that expression of self is the single most powerful aspect of creating good art. What I have found to be the most effective way to communicate stories and experiences in a relatable way is by speaking both as broadly and as specifically as possible. Because the creator will feel like they have communicated what they need to, but it leaves some room for interpretation, which is something that I really value in the perception of music and expression in any form.

MM: Is that letter from Yoko Ono real?

HB: Yes, it’s real! A friend of my aunt’s works for Yoko and put our music on. We got the letter, some postcards and an old test print sweatshirt. Super neat!

MM: Who are your primary musical influences that factor into your current sound?

Josh MacGregor: As far as influence goes, everything that we ever listen to/enjoy even a tiny bit influences the music we make in some way. Personally, when I make the drum parts for a certain song, how I play it and how it sounds is super reflective of what I’ve been listening to at the time. So, for example, some drum parts will be influenced by Tiny Moving Parts, some will be influenced by Gojira… it really just depends on the day/time period. On a more general note, my personal biggest influences are Jimmy Eat World, Ariana Grande, Carly Rae Jepsen, Citizen, Mastodon, etc.

MM: What have been the highlights of your musical careers?

JM: I would honestly say that everything that has happened to me so far in terms of the band and in terms of music has been a highlight. Whether that be opening up a cool show, or releasing a song, or even just someone coming up after the set and saying it was great… all those things are super important/meaningful and contribute to this whole amazing experience.  

MM: If you could open for any artist right now, living or dead, who would it be?

WN: Ariana Grande, hands down.

MM: Where do you see yourselves in five years?

ID: Hopefully we are continuing to make the music we love but at a greater scale. We want to reach as many people as possible and add some beauty to the world. Most importantly I hope we are still having as much fun as we are now…..if not more!

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