The Suburbs

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This article is about the American rock band. For the album by Arcade Fire, see The Suburbs (album). For other uses, see The Suburbs (disambiguation).
The Suburbs
Origin Minneapolis, Minnesota
Genres Punk rock, funk, new wave
Years active 1977–1987, 1992–present

The Suburbs are an alternative punk rock/funk/new wave band from Minneapolis, Minnesota that was popular in the late 1970s through the 1980s. The band frequently headlined at Minneapolis's most influential music clubs including Jay's Longhorn Bar and First Avenue.

Band history[edit]

The Suburbs were formed in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1977 following introductions by Chris Osgood of the Suicide Commandos. Following live performances, they released The Suburbs on the Twin/Tone label (the label's first release) in early 1978. The record was a nine-song 7-inch red vinyl EP. The band also saw two songs, "Urban Guerrillas" and "Ailerons O.K.", included on the compilation Big Hits of Mid-America, Volume Three. Band guitarist Bruce C. Allen did the art direction for the compilation.

After building a following playing basement parties, the Suburbs had their first major success at influential Minneapolis punk/New Wave nexus Jay's Longhorn Bar; drummer Hugo Klaers said that after getting regular gigs at the venue, "we went from nobodies to this super popular band. It was just crazy. The Longhorn shows were always packed." One notable audience member at the Suburbs' shows was Bruce Springsteen, then on tour supporting his album The River, who was so impressed with the band that he nearly joined them on stage for an encore.[1] The band's popularity increased during the early to mid-1980s, and during this time, their new wave dance sound, eclectic lyrics, and stage presence gained a following that broke out of the Midwest and reached both coasts. In 1980 Twin/Tone released their first full length LP, In Combo.

The single "World War III" (and its B-side, "Change Agent") showed development of the band's songwriting abilities and improved sound. A year later, they released the double album Credit In Heaven which added elements of jazz, funk, and disco to the mix. The single "Music for Boys" was taken from the record and became a radio hit.

In 1982, the band released a 12-inch single "Waiting", which frequently found its way onto dance club playlists. An EP Dream Hog followed on Twin/Tone, featuring three new songs and a remix of "Waiting" on the B-side, all produced by Steven Greenberg of Funkytown and Lipps Inc fame.

Greenberg then brought the Suburbs to the attention of Phonogram Records, which added them to their roster in 1983. Phonogram started by re-issuing Dream Hog on the Mercury label.[2] Keyboardist/vocalist Chan Poling commented, "We love what Twin Tone did for us, but we've always wanted to sell records, to join the big time, and you just can't do that on a little label."[2] By this time, the band's live performances were muscular and funky, attracting rabid fans and keeping the band busy as an opening act for the likes of Iggy Pop and The B-52's, as well as headliners in their own right. They often went on stage wearing matching dinner jackets.[2] In 1983 Polygram released Love is the Law, a harder-rocking album that included a horn section and some of their most off-beat lyrics, also produced by Steven Greenberg. In 1986, The Suburbs signed with A&M Records and released The Suburbs, produced by Prince's Revolution drummer Bobby Z. (Robert Brent). Frustrated by a lack of radio play and abandoned by the major labels, the band broke up in 1987.

In 1992 Twin/Tone released Ladies and Gentlemen, The Suburbs Have Left the Building, a best-of compilation, and in 1994 a live record Viva! Suburbs!. The Suburbs reunited during this period and played numerous shows in the Twin Cities, and have played on and off since that time including opening once more for the B-52's in 2003.

Summer of 2002 saw the re-issues of the albums In Combo, Credit In Heaven and Love Is The Law on CD on the band's own Beejtar Records. In late 2003, the band issued Chemistry Set: The Songs Of The Suburbs 1977 - 1987 (a best of CD with a few bonus tracks and a DVD of their 2002 performances at Minneapolis' First Avenue).

In 2004, Chan Poling formed The New Standards with John Munson and Steve Roehm.

On December 7, 2009, guitarist Bruce Allen died aged 54.[3][4]

The band's song "Love is the Law" was adopted as a theme song for the same sex marriage movement in Minnesota. Following the signing of the bill on May 14, 2013 a celebration was held in downtown St Paul where the song was performed by a lineup including Poling, Klaers and Chris Osgood. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman joined in on guitar.[citation needed]

On November 19, 2013 Si Sauvage, the band’s first new release in 27 years, was released. Si Sauvage features founding members Poling, Hugo Klaers, and Blaine John “Beej” Chaney, plus new bandmates Steve Brantseg and Steve Price and special guest vocalists like Janey Winterbauer and Aby Wolf.

On August 26, 2014, the Suburbs announced on their Facebook page that founding member Beej Chaney was taking a leave of absence.[5]


  • Bruce C. Allen (died 12/7/2009): Guitar, Vocals
  • Chan Poling: Keyboards, Vocals
  • Michael Halliday: Bass
  • Hugo Klaers: Drums, Vocals
  • Blaine John "Beej" Chaney: Guitar (Beejtar), Vocals




Compilations and Lives[edit]




  • The Suburbs were voted among the "100 Most Influential Minnesota Musical Entities of the Twentieth Century" by The Minneapolis Star Tribune.
  • Chan Poling was voted #6 in Rake Magazine's "Favorite Minnesota Rockers" poll (alongside Prince, Bob Dylan, and Paul Westerberg).
  • The Minnesota Music Awards honored Chan Poling with their POP (Perpetually Outstanding Performer) Award.


  • In 1993, the song "Love is the Law" was featured during Darlene's prom dance scene during the season 5 episode "Promises, Promises" of the sitcom Roseanne.
  • "Rattle My Bones" was featured in a television ad for Target, and is also played during Minnesota Vikings home games.[7]


External links[edit]


  1. ^ Swensson, Andrea (2015-05-15). "'We started a scene': Minneapolis musicians remember the Longhorn Bar". Retrieved 2016-05-06. 
  2. ^ a b c King, Wayne (June 1983). "Suburbs Move to Major Label, Begin Sessions for New Album". Record. 2 (8): 6. 
  3. ^ Andrea Swensson (December 8, 2009). "Suburbs guitarist Bruce C. Allen dead at 54". Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  4. ^ JON BREAM (December 15, 2009). "Continued: Bruce Allen, 54, guitarist for the Suburbs". Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  5. ^ "The Suburbs - Timeline | Facebook". Retrieved 2016-07-22. 
  6. ^
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