An engineer, an entrepreneur and a couple of account managers walk into a bar …
Since 2014, a cover band has performed around the Lake Minnetonka area as Manhassen. The name “started as a joke because we were a bunch of guys from a gym in Chanhassen, but then we were either too lazy to change it, or it started to grow on us,” says Derek Bush, lead vocals and guitar player. “At some point, it just became us.”
The band took shape after Bush (Chanhassen), lead guitar player Mitch Patrick (Chaska) and bass and keyboard player Mike Johander (Tonka Bay) met at Bring It Studios/CrossFit–Chanhassen. Bush invited some of the gym guys over to grill out at his house. “Mitch saw my guitars on the wall, picked one up and started shredding. I had no idea he played. He had no idea I did. We played way, way too long that night,” says Bush. They started getting together to “jam on acoustics here and there, and even wrote a few original songs.”
Johander, who had band experience and owned a music studio for a time, discovered Bush and Patrick were musicians. “We were floored that we’d all known each other but hadn’t talked about music. Mike had all the gear for rehearsals—drum set, every instrument imaginable, sound board, recording tech, monitors and a gym in his basement that now also doubles as our rehearsal studio,” Bush says.
The guys performed during a CrossFit workout session. “It forced us to learn some songs. Mike got Jordon Honeck (Maple Grove) to agree to be our drummer for the gym event,” Bush says. “We thought we’d learn 10 songs or so for a 30- to 45-minute set, and we ended up gelling so well and having so much fun we learned hours of music together.”
It went so well that they planned other gigs, including at the Chanhassen American Legion and The Suburban in Excelsior.
Since band members all have day jobs and families, Manhassen’s performances are limited to about six times a year in places like Floyd’s Bar, Excelsior Brewing Co. and The Suburban. Performances can draw nearly 150 friends and fellow gym-mates. Patrick describes the “typical” audience member as “married with 2.5 kids, owns a golden retriever, drives a minivan and lives in the wonderful communities [in the suburbs], but still remembers what it's like to rock out and relive the ‘90s via Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters’ greatest hits.”
Bush says, "I think we are all pretty passionate people, although very different ... When you open yourself up to what life has to offer and to people with good energy, even if they are different from you, good things happen.”
Patrick adds, There is nothing that compares to playing live music and looking out in the crowd and seeing people genuinely connecting and in the moment with you."
“We are in this to have fun and bring joy to ourselves and our extended community and not take it too seriously, although we care deeply about being a good band,” Bush says. “We do it because we love it, and love our people, even if we are just a few jugheads from the gym.”
Find info about upcoming gigs on Manhassen’s Facebook page.