John Munson and Matt Wilson of the Minneapolis band The Twilight Hours grew up on opposite sides of Minnesota’s Twin Cities. But the two came together as teenagers in a rock band, and they’ve been drawn to one another, both as friends and musicians, ever since.
The group’s primary songwriter Matt Wilson was raised in St. Louis Park where he became a fan of Elvis Costello, The Police and Bruce Springsteen. Initially, Matt had chosen to play the drums which suited his hyperactive energy. As a drummer, Matt and high school friends formed a rock group called The Panic, spending much of their high school years as under-aged performers in Minneapolis nightclubs, warming up for future luminaries Husker Du and The Replacements at Minneapolis’ 7th Street Entry, and for U2 at First Avenue. Matt eventually followed his brother to college at Harvard University where they performed in bands together, including the Love Monsters, marking Matt’s first turn as a songwriter and lead singer. That group won the school’s Battle of the Bands earning a chance to record a 4 song 7-inch EP. Matt quit school before his senior year to learn to play guitar and to make music full time.
Meanwhile on the other side of the Twin Cities, a bass playing prodigy from St. Paul was finishing his stint with an Aerosmith and Rush cover band. Now the young John Munson was on a higher mission to crack the codes of jazz bass, a quest the would continue throughout his life. It was the mid-80s when 19-year-olds John and Matt first collaborated as high-powered rhythm section for the Minneapolis new wave band E Brown, but the two eventually teamed up with Matt’s brother Dan to form their own group, Trip Shakespeare, for which the brothers shared music-writing duties while Matt penned the lyrics. That band toured the country for a decade during the 80s and 90s, releasing four albums including two on the A&M label. After Trip Shakespeare’s dissolution, John and Dan went on to form a power trio, Semisonic, eventually producing a platinum-selling album, “Feeling Strangely Fine.” In the wake of Semisonics commercial success, John also established a now-renowned jazz trio, The New Standards, performing modern pop hits in a boisterous jazz style.
But John and Matt seemed born to make music together and eventually they found themselves joined again, this time as an acoustic duo which they came to call The Twilight Hours. In 2007 the pair released their first LP, Stereo Night. The plan had been to create a predominantly acoustic recording, but the album that emerged was a rock record at heart, full of invention and musicality. Airplay on a local radio station, The Current, nudged John and Matt to build a band full of musical heavyweights including Dave Salmela on keyboards, Steve Roehm on guitar, rhythm savant Richard Medek on drums, and Minneapolis punk rock producer Jacques Wait on lead guitar. In 2016 The band’s second album, Black Beauty, evinced a refined sound with arrangements built from classic elements into a sort of rock that defies easy categorization. The music ranges in mood from subtle to soaring, but the band’s rangy melodies and energetic performances are always full of art and joy.
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