GoJohnnyGo Feature #1: Three Car Garage- Minneapolis, Minnesota 1985-1995

24 Nov

Three Car Garage exemplify that wasted ‘70s bored cruising-round-with-an-empty-gas-tank feeling via song better than any band I can think of. A great but unheralded group of four from the same Southeast corner of the metro area that I am from, 3CG released five records, and surprisingly only one was issued in the USA.  They had the sense to know that a band should go to the “right” studio to craft their sound & songs. 3CG enlisted two well-known studios: Smart Studio in Madison, Wisconsin & Noise New York out east. Kramer, owner of Noise New York, went on to release one of their  7” singles and a four-song CD on his own label KoKoPop.  Three Car Garage’s songs were quite catchy and sophisticated; they’ve been stuck in my head for weeks since I stumbled upon a couple of their cassettes. While listening I hear similarities to contemporaries such as Urge Overkill (a band that had some parallels with 3CG), The Hellacopters, and Soul Asylum. They also echoed past greats like Blue Oyster Cult, Kiss, & BTO. It’s tough to nail down a genre that 3CG fit into, their sound pre-dated Stoner Rock, and there is some similarity to bands that came along a few years later. I can also hear Grunge, straight-up Alternative Rock, Retro Psych-Garage and Power Pop. Whatever you want to call it, Here’s to 3CG, give ‘em some listening time.

Eric “Buck” Nelson- guitar & vocals

Carl Namyst- guitar & vocals

Pete Maye- bass & vocals

Ron Bronner- drums


“How Does it Feel” b/w “Say Goodbye” 7” single 1991 Prospective Records (USA) PRS-566 from the Smart Studios recordings

“Cold Feeling” b/w “Dreams/Death on the Stage” 7” single 1992 Repulsion Records (Germany) RE-012 from the Smart Studios recordings

“Cheap Champagne” on The Cowboy Teashow Compilator Volume 2 10” EP Rocket Sound Records (USA) RS-1005 from the Smart Studios recordings

Kings of Wig 10-song CD 1993 Repulsion Records (Germany) RE-014-2 from the Noise New York recordings includes “Slow”, “Love Kills”, “Rotten Soul”, “You Don’t Feel”, “Next to You”. “The King of Wig”, “Sad Vacation”, “Savage Man”, “Headed for The 200”, “T.V.B.C.”

Three Car Garage four-song CD 1993 KoKoPop Records (pressed in England) KOKOCD-16 from the Noise New York recordings includes “You Don’t Feel”, “Slow”, “Love Kills”, “The King of Wig”,“Rotten Soul”

“Slow” b/w “Love Kills” red vinyl 7” single 1994 KoKoPop Records (pressed in England) KOKO-16 from the Noise New York recordings

Cold Feeling

Cheap Champagne

Say Goodbye


Love Kills

Savage Man

Sad Vacation

Track 1 (final tape)

Spinnin’ Records With You (final tape)

An oral history of Three Car Garage

the beginning:

Buck: Somehow, while in college, I ended up with a guitar. A guy I knew was strapped for cash big time, and he had to sell his guitar. We drove to a pawn shop, and they would only give him a hundred bucks, so I think I gave him $150 for it. During the summer at home during college, we somehow got our hands on a bass, and Pete played it a bit. Pete was the songwriter for 3CG. We moved out by the University of Minnesota, by the Ronald McDonald House. We were going to play a party, our then-drummer was like “Hey-sorry, you guys suck, I can’t play with you” the day of the show. We were making some noise in an attic. To get up there you had to climb up through a pop-up door in a closet ceiling. All of a sudden this head pops up. It was Ronnie Bronner, and he said “Hey! Drum set!” He jumped up there and got behind the drums and kicked it. He heard us rocking out and found us. Then Carl showed up, Carl and I had known each other forever, since kindergarten in Woodbury.

Carl: I’d play with these guys in the summer during college, then the college thing wore off and the band thing turned into a full-time party. Summer of ’85. The Replacements made everybody want to be in a rock band, so by ‘85 we had guitars.

the studios:

Carl: I just found the tape we recorded at 3M Studios. Some if it is pretty good, some is pretty terrible. Ron got someone at KFAI to play it on the air.

Buck: We were going to record with Butch Vig at Smart Studios in Madison, but he had to go to record a Tad album for Sub Pop. So we recorded there with Doug Olson, and he was great. We were there for a weekend with our camper trailer parked next to the studio. That was THE big demo tape, and everything got pressed onto vinyl eventually.

Buck: Noise New York- we met our road manager Fred through someone who worked at the Frank-Nic liquor store in South Minneapolis. Fred did sound for Urge Overkill when they went around the country opening for Nirvana on the Bleach tour. We met Nash Kato & Urge Overkill through Fred. Nash would hang out at our place when he’d come back to Minneapolis to visit his family. Urge had recorded their demo with Kramer at Noise New York, which got them their Geffen deal.

Carl: That tape included “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” (Neil Diamond cover), which was also on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. Kramer played the toy piano on that.

Buck: Fred called Kramer & he said “Yeah, come on out.” So we bought a ticket for Nash Kato (“A Ticket to New York”). He was into getting a free ticket to New York, because he had people to hang out with there.

Buck: We went to Urge Overkill’s place, an old bank building in Chicago, & recorded there.   We set up in the vault in the basement. At that session we did a Runaways cover.

Repulsion Records label:

Buck: Carl and our road manager friend Fred went to Germany and meet Marc Richter, owner of Repulsion Records.

Carl: We went to France in a BMW, it was a party. We went to a bunch of castles and to every bar around Marc’s house with his friends. They were all really good foosball players, we thought we (3CG) were good cuz we had a foosball table in our living room, but these guys were toying with me, they were so good.

Carl: By the time the Kings of Wig CD got back here (for sale in Minnesota record stores), it was $24. It was from Germany, at an import price.


Carl- Billy Ruane just passed away, everyone loved him in Boston. He wasn’t in a band, but people loved him like they love Bill Batson here. We saw a picture of Billy on a flyer at the Middle East Club & thought that’d be a good photo for the cover of the Kings of Wig CD. Billy was well-to-do, and his dad was always trying to put him away. He just helped out bands he liked in Boston. We hung out with Martin at the Middle East, they always had those great sandwiches. & they gave us a place to stay.  Once we called the Middle East  the day of the show, just to let ‘em know we’re coming, and they had Dumpster Juice scheduled. Martin said “I’m wearing my 3CG t-shirt right now- so you’re headlining”.

Buck and Carl- We played Gabes Oasis in Iowa City, where we opened for House of Large Sizes, that show was sold out. We played Madison, The Metro in Chicago,  Providence- Club Babyhead. CBGBs in New York- the cops in New York wouldn’t let us hang out with the homeless people cuz I had a van. We played a warehouse party in Baltimore, that place ended when someone fell down an elevator shaft & died. We once saw the Ramones for free at Hammerjacks in Baltimore, a club under the freeway ramps by some parking lots. We were sitting in the side bar of the club, and the mosh pit would just flow through the doors in by us, so we just jumped up & made our way into the show. The Electric Banana in Pittsburgh…the club owner Johnny Banana pulled a gun on us back in the office. We told him since he couldn’t pay us, we’d camp out in front of the club. He checked on us a couple of times throughout the night, riding up in his Town Car. Someone at a band house in Youngstown heard we were at The Electric Bananan, and they asked :”did Johnnny pull his pistol on you too?”

the end:

Carl: in ‘95 we gave up on paying for a practice space…

Buck: …and so in Pete’s basement we built a sound-proofed practice space- a room within a room. Ron was the loudest drummer ever. so loud we had to put stuff in our ears.  We had a totally sealed room within another room, the walls were like a foot thick, two ceilings, and then put a recording studio in it.  We got a 1/2-inch reel-to-reel 8-track tape machine & mixing board. We worked a long time on the final tape, at least a year, on ten songs, the final recording, and then the band was done.

Buck: The band was done, it had to be ’95, the ten year plan. Christine (Buck’s wife) was driving around the Gyoto Monks for Rykodisc, and we played our last show Monk Fest in Detroit Lakes. While driving back we were talking about Carl’s trip to Germany, and it turns out Christine’s family is also from the same small town in Germany- Emmendingen. So I’ve been to Emmendingen myself a couple of times since, but we can’t find Mark Richter, he’s since moved off. I turn into a bottle of Roadhouse Beer whenever I go to Emmendingen.


5 Responses to “GoJohnnyGo Feature #1: Three Car Garage- Minneapolis, Minnesota 1985-1995”

  1. Ron Bronner November 29, 2010 at 8:29 pm #

    Hey,if you could pass this on to Carl or Buck or Pete: I was wondering if anybody ever transferred that old videotape of a live show in the entry to DVD? I would be willing to foot the bill if you guys want me to…


    • gojohnnygojohnny November 29, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

      Ron- I’ll get you in contact with Buck. -John

    • Jackie Hillenbrand December 2, 2010 at 7:07 am #

      Hey Ron,
      Mike G. and I saw your post, and am wondering how you are doing? We are together again after 20yrs., and are living together in Ely Mn. Drop us a line…646-496-7135.

  2. Rod November 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    I remember being to good for the VFW croed in Richfield. All the sudden, I was throwing bottles.

    • gojohnnygo November 11, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

      Yeah, that happens sometimes…

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