l.-r.: Billy Chevalier, Matt Chevalier and Dylan Mattheisen.
Thanks to bands like Modern Baseball, and the World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die (yes, that’s their whole name), the burgeoning emo revival is built primarily on inclusion and intimate interaction with fans — successful shows feel like friendly family gatherings.
In the case of Tiny Moving Parts, the band is quite literally family. The trio from Benson, Minnesota, is composed of vocalist/guitarist Dylan Mattheisen and his cousins Matt and Billy Chevalier (bass and drums, respectively). It’s a relentlessly touring math rock machine, releasing a handful of EPs and three full-length albums since forming in 2010. Their most recent release, this year’s Celebrate, shuns typical power chords for intricate finger tapping and polyrhythmic drumming.
Isthmus spoke to Mattheisen in advance of Tiny Moving Parts’ Dec. 2 show at the Frequency to discuss family matters and growing pains.
Celebrate definitely fits into the whole emo revival scene, but not in the ways you’d expect it to. What are some of the influences that went into making it?
When we wrote Celebrate, we just kind of put everything we like about music into one record. We listen to emo and screamo — very harsh-sounding things. But we also listen to poppier stuff. Tegan and Sara, stuff like that. So I’m not saying our music is like one or the other, but it is a nice kind of blend.
We like to have the instrumentation be very interesting, but still have it be catchy. We wanted to make it something that was easy to listen to, but if you listen closely, it’s pretty technical and weird at the same time.
I noticed there’s a lot of post-hardcore influence in there, which isn’t really something you hear as much as you did, say, 10 years ago. How are younger audiences reacting to that now?
Ever since we released that record, we did our first headlining tour, and we just got off tour with Touché Amoré, and we opened for the Fall of Troy [well-known post-hardcore bands], and it seems like our new songs are going better than any other songs.
It’s really aggressive music, but it always seems like you guys are having a ton of fun playing it. That has to be kind of infectious for audiences.
Yeah, it’s a lot of fun to play. Matt and Billy, they’re both my cousins, but we’re basically brothers, and the one thing that we really love to do in life is just be a band. We love recording music and touring and playing shows and meeting new people every night. I can’t imagine it ever getting old.
You guys have all been playing together in some form since you were in middle school, right?
Yeah. I got my first guitar when I was like 12 years old, and Matt got his bass at 12, and Billy got his drums at like, 13, so I think it’s been like 13 years now.
Do you think the fact that you’re all so close to each other is something people are gravitating to?
We’re with each other all the time, so we never really feel burned out on tours or anything because if we’re not on the road playing music, we’ll be with each other in one of our basements, watching TV and hanging out. We just like to stay out on the road as much as possible.
And since we’ve been writing together for over 10 years, if we’re practicing and I mess up on something or Billy drops a stick, we can get back to the next part. We can read each other’s minds, and it’s not because we’re family; it’s because we’ve been playing music together for so long.
I have to ask: What is it about bands from the Midwest [such as Into It. Over It, or anything with a Kinsella brother in it] that does twinkly, emotive indie rock better than anyone else?
[Laughs.] I have no idea. I feel like anyone can do the twinkly stuff if they put their mind to it. It just so happens that a lot bands from the Midwest have been doing it. But I think it’s great! We love the Midwest. We’re really happy to be a part of it, growing up in Minnesota. We’re really proud to be from here.