The Hopefuls: The Book

The Hopefuls: Chasing a Rock 'n' Roll Dream in the Minnesota Music Scene was published byMcFarland & Company in 2018.

Drawn from over 30 interviews and hundreds of articles, this is the definitive musical biography of Erik Appelwick, Eric Fawcett, John Hermanson, and Darren Jackson. The book traces how their musical partnerships have formed, reformed, and transformed from the early 1990s through the late 2010s.

It's available in paperback and ebook from your favorite independent bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or directly from McFarland & Company.

The Hopefuls

Imagine John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr each had solo careers, and got together to form the Beatles. Olympic Hopefuls were the Minneapolis indie rock version of that. Their damaged power pop anthems took Minneapolis by storm from 2004 to 2006. Arising from Erik Appelwick and Darren Jackson's feverish melodic minds, the band began in 2000 as a scrappy quartet called Camaro. They reconfigured a couple of years later, adding John Hermanson (keys, vocals), Heath Henjum (bass), and Matt O'Laughlin (drums). Eventually, former Spymob drummer Eric Fawcett replaced O'Laughlin. A run-in with the United States Olympic Committee led to the band becoming The Hopefuls in 2006. The original line-up disbanded in 2009.


The Fuses Refuse to Burn (2004)
Released by 2024 Records
1. Imaginary
2. Holiday
3. Shy
4. Drain the Sea
5. Motobike
6. Whisper
7. Let's Go
8. Trust Fund Junkie
9. Pretty Bigmouth
10. Stoned Again

Available on iTunes, Amazon, a…

Alva Star

Starting in 2000 as a John Hermanson solo project, Alva Star came together as a real band with players Darren Jackson (guitars, vocals), Brian Roessler (bass), and Peter Anderson (drums). Their second album featured Erik Appelwick on bass and Ian Prince on drums.

Alva Star on Bandcamp
Alva Star on Soundcloud


Alligators in the Lobby (2001)
1. Adore
2. Falling
3. Unhappily Yours
4. Thing for Me
5.  Beautiful
6. 74
7. Victorian
8. Revelation
9. Alva Star
10. Girlfriend

Available on iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify

Escalator (2004)
1. Escalator
2. Comeback
3. Cold Calculated
4. Tornado Girl
5. Downsides
6. The Level
7. The Messenger
8. Curtain Drops
9. Today
10. Get Behind Me

Available on Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify

John Hermanson

Bozeman, Montana native John Hermanson began his musical career as one half of Chris & Johnny / Storyhill. He went solo in 1997 before reuniting with Chris in 2001. He's the guiding force behind Alva Star, was the keyboardist for the Hopefuls, and is also a member of Intl Falls.

Official website

John Hermanson (1998)
1. Needle In Your Heart
2. Background Vocals
3. Ginny & June
4. 80s Party
5. Rockstarrin
6. Weight of Wanting
7. Thomas of Twelve
8. Letter of the Law
9. Sensational
10. Time Capsule
11. Spirit of the Ghost of Nothing

Available on iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify

Psalms (2009)
1. Psalm 22
2. Psalm 23
3. Psalm 27
4. Psalm 42
5. Psalm 46
6. Psalm 51
7. Psalm 84
8. Psalm 116
9. Psalm 121
10. Psalm 139

Available on Bandcamp

Dragonfly (2015)
1. Borcheskital
2. Slaetter Eleven Eight
3. Awake
4. Golden Hour
5. In Season
6. Trains Time Clocks
7. Poison Sandwich
8. Draeklaer
9. Miles and Sophia
10. All the Pieces
11. Raeklimer
12. Barely Breathing

Kid Dakota

Kid Dakota is the musical appellation of Minneapolis-based, South Dakota bred songwriter Darren Jackson. Originally forming in 1999 with 12 Rods drummer Christopher McGuire, the duo's dark, brooding, confessional, hard-hitting music led the duo to much acclaim and the attention of indie rock darlings Low, who would end up helping Kid Dakota release their first two records. Through ensuing albums and personnel changes, Jackson's visceral songwriting vision has served as the constant.

Official Website

So Pretty (2002)
Released by Chairkickers' Music

1. Crossin' Fingers
2. Smokestack*
3. Bathroom
4. So Pretty*
5. Summer Cold*
6. Pairin' Off*
7. Coalminer*
8. The Overcoat

*These 5 tracks were originally released in 2000 as the So Pretty EP.

Available on Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify

The West is the Future (2004)
Released by Chairkickers' Music
1. Pilgrim
2. Homesteader
3. Pine Ridge
4. Ivan
5. Ten Thousand Lakes
6. Starlight Motel



Formed in the mid-'90s in Minneapolis by singer/keyboardist John Ostby, drummer Eric Fawcett, guitarist Brent Paschke, and bassist Brian Roessler (who left in 2000 and was replaced by Christian Twigg),  Spymob spent a few years perfecting a unique blend of funk, pop, and rock before being discovered by songwriter/producer Pharrell Williams and recruited as the backing band (both in the studio and live) in his N.E.R.D. project. Their own album, Sitting Around Keeping Score, was released in 2004 on Ruthless Records after a handful of frustrating false starts. The band parted ways in 2005, but left behind a rich catalog to explore.


Reno (1994)
Cassette-only release before the band changed their name to Spymob
1. A Week From Today
2. Half the Time With You
3. Sunbelt

Townhouse Stereo (1996)
1. Joe Namath
2. Give Us a Chance To Call
3. Kissing the Neighborhood Houses Goodbye
4. Paul Harvey
5. Uncontrollably
6. Half the Time With You
7. Seventeen New Recipes


Storyhill is a folk harmony duo consisting of Bozeman, Montana natives Chris Cunningham and John Hermanson, who have performed together off and on since 1989. Starting in high school as Chris & Johnny, the friends ended up at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and started to record albums and perform on and off campus, becoming a local sensation. After graduation they toured the country, built up a sizable fanbase, and changed their name to Storyhill before burning out and calling it quits in 1997.

But in 2000, after starting solo careers, Chris and John reunited, deciding to keep their individual pursuits but also keep Storyhill a going concern. They started a yearly festival, Storyhillfest, and in 2007 signed to Red House Records, releasing two acclaimed albums on the venerable label. In the summer of 2019 the duo will celebrate the 30th anniversary of their first recording.

Official website

Chris & Johnny (1989)
1. Common Groun…

Tropical Depression

After writing a set of songs he felt didn't fit under the Vicious Vicious umbrella, Erik Appelwick devised Tropical Depression along with Martin Dosh, James Buckley, and Adam Krinsky. He told City Pages, "It's a laugh at wealth culture. It's hedonistic spray-tan absurdism. It's the antithesis of a polar vortex." Of the first record he wrote, tongue firmly in cheek, "The album is mostly an autobiographical account of the travels and tribulations, wanderings and meanderings, islands and beaches, party people, and paparazzi I encountered along the way from the Tropic of Capricorn to the Cape of Good Hope, Straits of Magellan to Micronesia."

Official website

Tropical Depression (2014)
Released by Egg Music
1. PCH
2. I Got U With My Camera
4. How It Feelz
5. Slow Chain
6. Over the Ocean
7. Tucson
8. Enjoy the Ride
9. Hi Potential
10. Rose Garden
11. Money Shake
12. Staring at Pictures

Available on iTunes, Amazon, an…