It was about a decade ago when two guys with a passion for music were working at Target, listening to Cities 97 in the backroom and daydreaming about what it would be like to be on the coveted Sampler CD.
“We would just kind of think, how cool would it be to be in a band, A? And B, actually make it on a Cities 97 Sampler?” said Ben Lubeck.
Fast forward to 2011 and Lubeck’s dreams have turned into a reality. He and his then-Target co-worker, Kyle Magstadt, along with three other friends (Brad Fox, Aaron Markson and Adam Lamoureux), have not only created an awesome local band but they’ve landed a spot on that little ol’ Cities 97 Sampler.
“I don’t think we could’ve dreamt in our wildest dreams that it actually would’ve come true someday,” Lubeck said. “It’s huge for us. It’s a really big deal, we love it.”
After dabbling in separate music projects over the years, the guys that make up the band Farewell Milwaukee finally found something that works — something that feels right. All hailing from the Midwest (three from the Twin Cities, one from Iowa and one from, you guessed it, Milwaukee), the band has recently released its second CD, titled “When It Sinks In.”
Months later, they were taking those words to heart, trying to process the news that their single, “Always Be Your Man” was going to appear on the latest volume of the Cities 97 Sampler — a project that’s not only a highly sought after album but a huge money-maker for local charities.
Lubeck said the fact they’ll be helping to generate money for the community is probably the best part.
“I think that’s the coolest thing about it,” he said. “That’s kind of the way all five of us would want to live our lives, no matter what we do, be it any sort of vocation, we’re trying to give back to people,” he said. “If we can do that with our music or if we can do that at gigs and stuff like that, I think that’s huge for us.”
It wasn’t that long ago that the band was coming together and getting into a rhythm, finding out what worked and what kind of music they wanted to play. Lubeck said they’ve all been friends for quite some time but when it came to playing music together, it just clicked.
“Once we hit on these types of songs that we’ve been writing and now we have two records out, I feel like we’re at a super comfortable place and hopefully it’s starting to show at our live shows and different things like that,” he said.
While the band’s moniker, Farewell Milwaukee, doesn’t have too much of a meaning besides paying tribute to the fine Midwest region, Lubeck said they’ve really loved sharing their pride for the area through their name and through their songs.
“I think when you’re younger you always tend to kind of want to get away from your roots and as you get older you start to really appreciate them and appreciate your family,” he said. “(You realize) how cool of a place this is and how proud of it you really should be.”
The band took its Midwestern roots to Nashville to record their second album, with the help of producer/engineer Brad Bivens (who has worked with artists like Norah Jones and Kings of Leon). Lubeck said the process was a great learning experience and really pushed them to where they wanted to be.
“He’s definitely been a great friend and a great guy to know,” he said.
Lubeck said he left with a lot of tips and tricks and different ways to approach song writing — a process he’s starting up again, while holed inside for the winter.
Working a seasonal job certainly pays off when that means the winters can be dedicated to a full-time gig of songwriting and melody creating. Lubeck said he likes to set a goal of writing 50 to 55 songs over the winter, hoping to pick the best of the best for a future album — a tip he heard about from Dan Wilson, who allegedly writes 100 songs for a maybe 10-song album.
“That work ethic totally blew my mind so I really tried to challenge myself to just write as many songs as possible and to try and make everyone as good as I possibly could,” he said.
Beyond the album-to-album aspirations, Lubeck said the band’s overarching goal is to make this love of music a full-time career.
“At this point, we finally realized this is something we all want to do,” he said. “We think it’s a possibility and we’re going to go for it no matter what. You spend so much of your life not quite believing in yourself and I think that we’re at the point where we’re just going to go for it.”
Farewell Milwaukee will perform at First Avenue on Nov. 15 for the Cities 97 Sampler release party and will play an all ages show at the Cedar Cultural Center on Jan. 13. For more information about the band and their performances check out their website.