Profile: While some bands give up on their dreams, others ask, "Why Not"
There’s a good chance a parent’s worst nightmare is hearing their child say they want to be an artist. Parents seemingly push their children towards the path with the most job security and potential income — typically not artistic fields. But for Minnesota’s Why Not, this isn’t the case. Not only have they received the blessing of their parents as they pursue their musical dreams, guitarist Isaac Dell’s dad is along for the ride.
The trio is composed of three wide-eyed high schoolers, Dell (guitar), Joshua McGregor (drums), and Henry Breen (vocals/bass). Their part-time manager (and Isaac’s full-time father) Irve Dell has stepped up to the plate as an honorary member when needed.
“He comes to all our practices and shit,” Breen said, “he’s very involved in making sure we give a shit.”
Being high schoolers, none of the band members are old enough to rent a tour van. The elder Dell was willing to put the rental in his name and spend his summer vacation venturing through the Northeast. During their Philadelphia show at The Pharmacy, father Dell was pumping his fist to the beat as he took pictures of the band — smiling wide the entire time.
Already under Why Not’s belt are two full-lengths, Friends. and Spring Cleaning, along with four singles. Their current tour is their second of 2018, having spent this past June traveling as far south as Birmingham, AL. Along the way, they’ve admittedly learned a lot about the industry.
“We realized it’s a business,” Dell said, “you have to find a way to promote it and catch people’s attention with the most minimal things.”
“Trying to sell your band is fucking weird,” Breen added, “it sucks ass.”
Possibly to their own dismay, Why Not has been successful in running their business thus far. Their top track according to Spotify, “Pink Hat,” was featured as the song of the day on MPR’s The Current and City Pages wrote a feature on the band in Dec. 2017.
Along with watching their stock grow, Why Not continuously cultivates their sound. In their two years, their songwriting has been influenced by the likes of Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., The Mars Volta, and various midwestern emo acts. Their early work features the twinkly flair of their midwestern emo influences, but they’ve slowly moved towards a more Strokes-influenced, indie-punk fusion.
“We’re still experimenting,” McGregor said, “Spring Cleaning has more of a straightforward punky feel than Friends., our next single release is basically pop with an experimental twist at the end.”
Why Not collectively agreed that they’ve begun to understand what they want to do with their music. Their maturation has led to new understandings in not only how to write music, but also why.
“Our songs have more meaning now, I think,” Dell said, “They have meaning to us but also to others which is why I love making music.”
“It’s so easy to make a super fun song that’s not really anything,” Breen said, “those [songs] don’t convey a feeling or a message and so I think [we’ve] gotten better [at that].”
Simultaneously, Why Not has realized over-complicated songs are not always the mark of excellence.
“There was one point where I was trying to put 30 riffs in one song,” Dell said, “I think all of us have realized the beauty in a nice, simple song structure and keeping the things that make it exciting, like rhythm and cool melodies.”
Breen, Dell, and McGregor aren’t sure what the future holds but they know they want to continue with Why Not. Dell and McGregor are entering their senior years of high school and both would like to take time off after school to focus on the band. Breen is entering his junior year, so while he has a little more time to think, he’s in the same boat as his bandmates.
“I’m for the most part just pretty set on not going to college, I’m trying to stay out of debt,” McGregor said, “Maybe go to community college but I know for sure I’m taking a gap year.”
Why Not finished up their summer 2018 tour on Aug. 20 in Chicago, the day before their school returned to session — meaning they had about a six hour drive back home that night. They’ll be limited to local shows throughout the course of the school year, but be sure to catch them on future tours and keep an eye out for their upcoming single, “Ready 4 the World.”
In the meantime, check out the tracks they deemed to be the "Why Not essentials."