Minneapolis Indie Group Early Eyes Finds International Fans

Bryce Parr – 

Young Minneapolis indie group Early Eyes played at the Memorial Student Center at their Dec. 6 show. Performing energetic indie-pop with a taste of jazz and funk influence, the group has seen rising success after releasing two EPs and a single this year.

In 2016, Bassist Des Lawrence, Drummer Wyatt Fuller and vocalist Jake Berglove got together for a one-off show. That night the group created a Facebook page on a whim, and after a positive online reception, decided to continue with the Early Eyes project. Guitarists Joe Villano and John O’Brien were added to the roster, and Early Eyes cemented themselves in the Twin Cities music scene.

The Thursday show was Early Eyes’ second show at the University of Wisconsin-Stout campus. Since opening for Whosah at the 2017 show, the band has gigged extensively and toured from the Midwest to Maryland.

The show in Maryland was a turning point for the group. “It felt like as soon as we started playing, everyone was there for us. It’s so flattering and nice, we are all still getting used to it. We were just a bunch of kids from high school that played music in our basements thinking ‘I would love to do this someday,’ and now people are out there singing our lyrics,” said Berglove. “You just have to come with good energy and people will give it back,” said O’Brien.

It wasn’t always that smooth for Early Eyes. After their inception, the band didn’t have a vehicle to move gear. They would use whatever was available. “We would steal a cart from our dorms, pile in our gear, and get on the train,” said Berglove.

According to the group, Berglove, who attended a performing arts high school and won second place in the National Endowment for the Arts songwriting competition, was the main songwriter during the group’s first year. Now they write collaboratively. “We’ve entered the zone of all writing songs together,” said O’Brien.

Early eyes draws influence from many genres, but they agree that they are heavily influenced by pop and jazz. “We don’t look to artists, we look to conventions. There are a lot of things in our music that is unconventional in indie-rock, but only because they are conventional in other genres,” O’Brien said.

Early Eyes has found fans from all around the world. “Penelope” was streamed heavily in London after its addition to a summer indie playlist on Spotify, and the group has an unlikely following in South Korea. “We got this care package from South Korea. They had so many snacks. You know those Cheeto puffs they have? Banana flavored,” said Lawrence. They also received a scrapbook of handwritten notes and collages from their South Korean fans.

Early Eyes also reportedly has many fans in Indonesia. An Indonesian band covered the track “Penelope” for a high school competition. “They won the competition. [The song] has been tested, it’s a winner,” said Lawrence.

“It’s so humbling. There are so many people who are nice to us and supportive all over the country and they all live big enormous lives and you get to meet them all and be friends and it’s really magic and fun. It’s an indescribable feeling,” said Berglove.

Although Early Eyes hopes to tour in  Asia, the group is currently planning a North American tour to support their upcoming full-length album.