Nov 9, 2023
STS infuses their music with a down-to-earth sensibility, blending the raw power of classic punk rock with intricate pop melodies and compelling lyrics.
Small Town SINdrome, also known as STS, is a notable alternative rock band hailing from Grand Rapids, Minnesota. STS has rapidly gained attention with their distinctive sound, as their music seamlessly blends the raw power of classic punk rock with intricate pop melodies and compelling lyrics. STS offers unique listening experience that resounds heavily with fans.
Established in 2018, this three-piece band consists of Brian Gandy, a charismatic vocalist and guitarist; Adam Mahoney, the rhythmic section of the band on drums; and John Hakala, vocalist and bass guitar virtuoso.
The name "Small Town SINdrome" itself draws inspiration from the small-town-ness of Grand Rapids. Despite Brian and Adam's roots in larger cities, the band has embraced the small-town mindset and ethos, infusing their music with a down-to-earth sensibility. Some may even pick up on a bit of garage band vibes.
STS explores a rich array of emotions and themes in their music, forging a deep and energizing connection with their audience. From writing jam-worthy songs when freestyling together to electrifying live performances, Small Town SINdrome is on a path to become a major force in the world of alternative rock. STS has themselves poised for a tremendous journey in the world of music, sharing their authentic stories, talent, and energy with us all.
MaM: Guys, thanks so much for rapping with us today. Let’s jump right in with some of those broken-record questions: With a name as unique as Small Town SINdrome, there has to be a story. Please enlighten us how the band name came about!
BG: We spent nights sitting around trying to figure out what the hell our name was going to be, because there is a lack of available names. We even went so far as to use a band name generator online. It was funny because everything we came up with sounded really cool. Then, Google would say someone in Portugal has got the name. John actually came up with it because we're here in a small town. With the small-town mentality and that sort of thing, we thought, that's kind of a cool idea. We flipped from Syndrome to SINdrome and nobody has sued us yet.
MaM: Can you share a bit about how you all came together as a band? I understand that Brian and Adam have a family connection, but what led to recruiting John as the bass player?
BG: We don’t talk about that publicly. (Laughs)
No, Adam is officially my stepson, but he's more like my little brother. John, I look at him as my other little brother. We’re a family, a three-piece family.
JH: Adam and I were living with a buddy, and Brian would come jam with him. They’d try to get me to play, but I would run and hide in my room. They finally wore me down and liked it. We started writing together, and it was just really easy. We all fit together. It’s still easy. We start jamming and that’s when the good stuff comes out.
MaM: When listening to your music, I hear a mix of alt-rock, punk, and even some classic rock with a garage band vibe. How do you describe your genre, and how does your diversity play into shaping your sound?
BG: You’re absolutely right in hearing all of that in our music. When we write a song, we don't necessarily say we're going to write a specific type of the song. Like John said, we just start jamming, and we go with it. Then we have songs that could be a little punk rock, pop-punk, alt rock, or could be a little classic rock. We all share a lot of the same influence, but, then again, we also have a lot of very different influences.
JH: We might be jamming and listening to different bands separately from each other through the week, but then we come together and it’s a totally different style from what we’ve been doing. It really depends on what we're all listening to, what kind of moods we're in, and what's going on. We come to practice, just let it out, and see what happens.
BG: I'm the Smashing Pumpkins/Nirvana wing of the band. It's funny. John came to practice a few weeks back with a bass riff and we started playing on it. It sounded really good, but it was so Smashing Pumpkins. For the next week to two weeks, I couldn't write or think of anything else … I kind of get pulled in by that.
MaM: It's clear that your music appeals to a broad audience. How do you navigate such a diverse range of listeners and expectations?
BG: We get feedback, and people do say different things. Really, we want everybody to like everything we do, but there's also the reality that some people are going to like this, some people are going to like that. That’s why we want to be as diverse as we can with our music, with the understanding that what some may like may not be what someone else likes. We want to try to reach as many people as we can.
Back in February, we released the first cover we've ever done: ‘Blister in the Sun’ by Violent Femmes. I tell the story because it's so true that this is the one song of ours that no matter what genre people are into or what age demographic, people love it.
MaM: With such an eclectic reach, I’ve no doubt the journey has been filled with interesting moments. Could you elaborate on the highs and lows you've experienced along the way?
(Lots of laughter between the band.)
AM: This may be a little off topic, but I just have to … About two weeks ago, John left practice about two minutes before I did, and he hid in the dark. He was going to jump out and scare the shit out of me, but he ended up tripping over a fire pit and breaking his femur. He’s never even broken a bone before. Two weeks later, and we just had our first practice today. When you asked about highs and lows … I’d say that this dude is in a pretty low one right now.
We have a lot of cool music times too, though. As for highs and lows, there’s a lot of ‘em. In September, we did do the coolest show of our lives. We played at Rocklahoma with a bunch of bad-ass bands. So, yeah, a lot of cool music moments too, but the broken leg is most recent.
MaM: Regarding Rocklahoma, tell me more about the impact the band felt playing alongside legendary acts like Pantera, Rob Zombie, and Limp Bizkit?
BG: As Adam said, it was the high point so far … not just for us being able to be on a stage in front of people at that venue, but just being able to see some of the bands we've always admired. The other highlight was the ability to be able to be backstage and kind of go where we want. I think we'd all agree. You aren’t often able to share a bill with, you know, the Chris Daughtrys of the world and Eddie Van Halen's kid. Until we got on that stage, I was thinking somebody was going to call us and say, 'Whoops, we made a mistake. We meant the other Small Town Syndrome with the I.' … [It] was a fun time for sure.
MaM: I see that you recently released a new single, "Matches to Ashes". How have your fans been reacting to your latest track?
BG: Pretty positive. It was kind of a weird year for us as far as releasing music. We had some festivals and things we did over the summer with the goal to get to Oklahoma. We really wanted to release at least a couple of songs during 2023. That's why we put “Matches to Ashes” out there when we did. It’s definitely one we all enjoy playing, and it's been well received when we have gotten to play it.
MaM: Here comes my quirky question: What came first, the chicken or the egg?
BG: Hmm, I don’t have a strong opinion either way. If I have to pick between the two, I’m going to go chicken.
JH: Then I’m going to have to go egg.
MaM: Honestly, I wanted to get you thinking so I could ask about your writing process. What comes first, the lyrics or the instrumentals?
AM: It can be different. I think it's like that with a lot of bands, but not everyone can do it. Sometimes Brian will have pretty much a whole song already down on guitar with some lyrics. He'll come to us with it, and we'll fill it in. We piece it together. John has done it too, but then there's times we'll just get in the room and within 20 minutes have a super song from freestyling.
MaM: As a band, where do you see yourselves in the next five years? Any particular goals or aspirations you'd like to share with your fans?
BG: From my perspective, Dave Grohl said it perfectly. He did an interview a few years back and said something to the effect of if you do this just for the love of music and nothing else, with no illusion of winning American Idol or The Voice or something, you’ve already won.
Obviously, bands want to make a career out of this and sustain without having to work multiple jobs, but I think that’s really it for me. We definitely want to keep creating and pushing ourselves to improve as a band and as individual musicians. Rocklahoma was a big bucket list thing, but now it’s not enough. Once you have a taste of that, you say ‘Ok, now what?’
We are looking at touring next year and making a stop in the UK. That’s another big bucket list item for us. And, of course, back to the music, it's just finding those bigger stages and keeping that rolling. I should say this too—Erica, you're kind of getting a scoop on this: We haven't said this publicly, but we will have an album coming out tentatively on February 1st. It’s totally unreleased music we have done and some new stuff we're working on.
MaM: That’s excellent! We’re happy to share that news! What should we be looking for next from STS?
BG: We want to play in a lot of places in 2024 that we've not played. We want to see as many people at our shows as we can, and we want to be able to meet a lot of people. We're going to work on getting to different corners of the world and see some new stages. As I said earlier, the immediate goal is to get the new music out and into everybody’s ears.
JH: I think pretty similar to Brian. Get out, play a lot of shows, heal my leg, and get back to jumping and messing around. I love playing live, feeling that energy, and feeding off of it. That's my goal: just get back out there.
AM: Same. I mean, put some new music out there, write some new stuff, and play some play some dope shows with some bad-ass crowds.
While we anticipate the new sounds from Small Town SINdrome coming in February 2024, check out what they currently have to offer by visiting them online at www.SmallTownSindrome.com.
Erica Machen is a beast when it comes to consuming, writing about, and reviewing music. Got something for her? Reach out to email@example.com.