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STILL, After All This Time

Music | March 21st, 2024

By John Showalter

john.d.showalter@gmail.com

It is not unheard of for bands to go on hiatus. However, as the old saying goes, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” That is why when a local group like STILL comes back to perform it is always cause for excitement. On Saturday, April 13, the long dormant doom noise project will return to the Aquarium co-headlining a show with Timmy Williams of “The Whitest Kids U’ Know” fame, who will be performing stand-up comedy in an unforgettable mixed media experience.

STILL is comprised of four members: Chris Marteny aka “Martz” providing guitar and vocals, Justin Bohmer providing vocals, Andrew Johnson providing noise, and Will Burns providing drums.

“Andrew and I have been friends for a really long time,” said Marteny. “He has been active in the electronic/noise scene, I’ve been playing in punk/hardcore and metal bands and we like to go to each other’s shows and support each other. We had worked together in an experimental group called Manchester Bulge at one point and wanted to start a project that combined elements of what we were doing.”

The members of STILL have quite impressive resumes in the local music scene.

“If you know me, I’m in too many bands,” said Burns, the aforementioned drummer and also one of the organizers for the show. “SOTOS, Under Siege, Mr. Meaner, and Windsor Diets to name a few.”

“Will and Justin and I had played together in the local bands Under Siege and SOTOS for years,” Marteny said. “So I got in touch with them and asked if they wanted to get involved. We squeezed all the gear we had into my laundry room one night, put up some red Christmas lights, and STILL was born.”

Burns reminisced over this. “Chris, the mastermind of the project, originally approached me in…God even knows. 2013? 2015?”

“I’m not sure where to put STILL, in terms of a specific genre,” said Marteny. “A big theme of the band is the state of mental health and how it is dealt with and reflected on in society. So our sound is happy, sad, violent, hurt, and scared. All at once. A pharmaceutical funeral dirge.”

When asked why STILL was returning after all this time, Marteny said, “There isn’t really a specific reason for the reunion. We have all remained great friends and have worked together on other projects. I believe STILL has a lot left to say. It just takes its time to say it.”

As mentioned earlier, STILL is co-headlining with comedian Timmy Williams. When Burns was asked about how he came up with the superficially odd combination of stand-up comedy with what sounds like rather dark and somber music, he said, “Because it sounds awesome, that’s why. Sweet and sour. Salty and sweet. Funny and depressing.”

When asked how they met, Burns said, “I actually met him at one of his performances at the Aquarium in…I can’t remember what year. More of a fanboy self-introduction, so I doubt he remembers the interaction, but we have been in talks of a show like this for some time now.”

Williams, a native of Watertown, South Dakota, shares Burns’s excitement for the upcoming show.

“I totally love playing the Aquarium, and have always found it to have a metal vibe, so this just makes sense to me. Shout out to Will for making it happen!”

This is hardly the first time that he has paired his comedic stylings with musical performances.

“Well, stand-up and music do occasionally pair together well,” said Williams. “I have toured with some folk bands before, and have performed on some punk shows and such. I actually just did another co-headlining show with a shoegaze/punk band at a bookstore in Aberdeen a few months ago. I like to perform anywhere that isn’t a normal comedy club. I even do house shows!”

Williams is likely best known to most people for his work with the sketch comedy troupe, “The Whitest Kids U’ Know”, which started as a college sketch group at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan in 2000 with members Williams, Zach Cregger, Sam Brown, and the late Trevor Moore. Darren Trumeter would join them in 2003. They went on to have a wildly popular sketch comedy TV show that is fondly remembered watching for many in the late 2000s and early 2010s. The group still keeps in touch, even to this day.

“We are basically a family,” said Williams. “We never ‘broke up’ but we all kinda moved to different places and did other jobs, raised kids, made other shows, etc. We started ‘performing’ together again shortly after the start of the pandemic in 2020. I use quotes around ‘performing’ because we were just doing Zoom calls and recording them and releasing them on YouTube. That turned into streaming on Twitch on a regular basis, which often had a pretty big audience. Later in 2020, we realized that people were watching us on Twitch because they still like us, so we started crowd-funding an animated film called "MARS!" Four years later, the film is finished and being submitted to festivals, and we hope to have news about a release some time this year.”

Of course, Williams has kept himself busy in other ways as well. He has been doing stand-up comedy since around the time that WKUK debuted on TV in 2006.

“I have never been a ‘full-time’ comedian, but have done at least a few sets every year since then,” he said. “I did several stand-up tours from 2013-2019, which were mainly in the Midwest — and mainly just me driving around in my minivan. It is so fun to go around and do dumb jokes and meet fans.”

“I also have shown up randomly in an indie film here or there, or you might hear my voice in a radio ad in some parts of the country. In 2017, I co-founded a comedy festival in Sioux Falls called Sno Jam. It started when I jokingly told two other SD comedians, ‘Wouldn't it be funny to make comedians from L.A. come to South Dakota in January?’ Two weeks later, they had some sponsors. We donated everything we made to charity, and I just headlined the eighth and final year this past January. I think we raised more than $50,000 over those eight years, for different charities like Special Olympics, cat rescues, legal support for trans kids, and several others.”

In addition to the co-headliners, there is more music we can expect. Burns listed off the supporting acts, “ghost_texture, a fantastic friend of mine’s project, Cold Front is a local rap/hip hop group — again, filled with friends — and Meat Shoe: noisy punk…you guessed it…friends.”

IF YOU GO:

STILL featuring Timmy Williams of “The Whitest kids you know”

Saturday, April 13 8:30 p.m.   

The Aquarium, Fargo

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