The Suburbs are back

CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER , Vita.mn | Updated 8/21/2013

The Suburbs celebrate their first album in 27 years with a State Fair gig.

The Suburbs, from left: Chan Poling, Beej Chaney (blindfolded), Hugo Klaers, and new-ish members Steve Price and Steve Brantseg.

“Never in a million years did I think we’d make another album,” said Suburbs singer/guitarist Beej Chaney.

“No, absolutely not,” said drummer Hugo Klaers.

Well, there was one believer in the band, which broke up in 1987 and has intermittently reunited since 1992.

“I always call the New Standards my age-appropriate band,” said Suburbs singer/keyboardist Chan Poling, 55, referring to his lounge-pop trio. “But always in the back of my mind I knew I had another rock record in me. Who would I get to play? Then the more I thought: What’s the best rock band that I know? I already have it.”

So, 27 years after the Suburbs made their last studio album, the quintet will release a new album, the fan-funded “Si Sauvage,” on Tuesday, and perform at the State Fair’s “MN Music On-a-Stick” concert next Friday.

“Si Sauvage” is not a vintage Suburbs album, on which nervy new wave collided with disco and jazz, and Poling and Chaney sang about cows, chemistry and cigarettes in backward.

“This is a mature album for us,” said Chaney.

“It’s a little more sophisticated, a little more grown up,” agreed Poling. “You’re not going to just have the naive punk-rock sound that we had. ”

“Si Sauvage” is a Poling-dominated album, with Chaney — the crazed frontman who always was the life of a Suburbs party — taking lead vocals on only one song. A couple of years ago, Chaney went through a traumatic divorce from a member of Minnesota’s wealthy Cargill family.

Chaney’s situation isn’t the only question surrounding the Suburbs and “Si Sauvage.” How does the band function since the death in 2009 of its original guitarist, Bruce Allen, who defined both the band’s rhythm and its look? And how is Poling coping with the death of his wife, Eleanor Mondale Poling, in 2011 from brain cancer?

Poling said he didn’t want to write a record about loss or regret. But a few songs clearly address Eleanor. First is the current single, the horn-accented “Turn the Radio On.” “You’ve Got to Love Her,” a peppy Poling pop ditty, and the classic love ballad “I Like It Better When You Loved Me” also were inspired by Eleanor. Other songs are aimed at the ’Burbs themselves, such as “Dumb Ass Kids.”

“It’s about me talking to our younger selves,” Poling said. “We had more than one conversation about how lucky we are to be alive still after the way we used to live.”

As for the loss of Allen, Klaers said the band is now “tighter and we’re a little cleaner sounding. I think the old Suburbs were a little more sloppy and dirty. All the energy is there. Bruce had a unique way of playing guitar that nobody could ever duplicate. I think Bruce would be really happy if he heard this record.”

“Si Sauvage” — French for “so wild” — was funded by a Kickstarter campaign, in which the band raised more than $73,000. “I’m proud everyone still cares,” Chaney said. “Thank you for letting us take a break and get our [act] back together. Because it wasn’t easy. We do have it back together. I think we’re better than ever.”

Getting renewed exposure for their 1984 hit “Love Is the Law” during the same-sex marriage battle was a boost, too. “I think the marriage amendment thing helped us more than we helped the marriage amendment,” said Klaers.

They’re even talking about another album.

“We plan on getting into the studio ASAP,” said the band’s new guitarist, Steve Brantseg.