Campus Celebrity: Minnesota License Plate

How did you form your band?Justin: Ben Reikle came to us and told us “You guys play music, we should do a Pike Rush event and have you all play together at a rush event.”It kind of started within the fraternity. But I don’t think we really realized that we were really good until after the first show at the amphitheatre.Ethan: Well I first started playing drums with Caleb and I guess it was just one day after school that we all got together and played.Joe: And then Ethan and I would jam together after HMXP and that’s how I got involved.Caleb: We started playing probably a few weeks before our first show. But I would say that things just kind of fall into place, and they fell into place for us.

How did you come up with the name “Minnesota License Plate”?Justin: So I’m going to explain this in the simplest way possible. Have you ever looked really deeply at a Minnesota License Plate before? Well we have, and there’s two guys sitting on a canoe on it and bottom line it’s awesome.Caleb: I’m the only one who has actually been to Minneapolis, and it’s awesome there. I don’t know what it is about it, it’s just awesome. And so anyways I got a license plate and brought it back from Minnesota, and one day we looked at it really deeply and we realized each object on the plate holds something really important. Ethan: The whole license plate is one of the great lakes! It’s sweet.  

What do you have planned for the future?Justin: So many things.Ethan: Lots and lots of things.Joe: A ton of things.Caleb: There’s definitely an assortment. First we’re going to record an album, and hopefully it will be a full-length album.

Photo by Hannah Strong '16

How many songs will be on the new album?Justin: There ain’t no tellin how many songs will be on it! *Laughs*Joe: If we get over 10 songs it will be an accomplishment!Ethan: Maybe around 8 or 9 songs. No matter what, it’s going be a professionally recorded and mastered CD. We will also put them on YouTube, SoundCloud and iTunes! And then at every show, we’re going to have some CD’s selling for about 2 or 3 dollars!Caleb: We were planning on putting it on the Internet for free so people can hear it, and then taking donations for whoever wants to give us donations.

What is your new album going to be called?Ethan: Kaleidoscope Sunrise!

What inspires you most and what’s the best time for you to write your music?Caleb: I feel like we all kind of bring our own little part to the band and because of that we play well with each other and bounce off of each other. We get a lot of our inspiration from each other and from hanging out with each other and having a good time. I mean like, I really feel like the thing is you have to do what you love to do and have fun. If you could turn loving music into an opportunity and make money, not even a ton of money, but enough money to see the world and travel and express yourself to people, why would you not take that opportunity? It’s right in front of us.Ethan: That’s the same for me. I think my inspiration is that I want to be the person other people want to be.Joe: Definitely the motivation to not have to behind the desk.Justin: I would say that personally for me, my inspiration for writing is that if you’re good at something you should get paid for it. I really want to play music for money, that’s the dream.

Photo by Hannah Strong '16

Which musicians do you each look up to?Ethan: I look up to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, definitely. Specifically Flea.Justin: Mine is definitely David Gilmore from Pink Floyd.Caleb: Glenn Kotche. He plays drums in the band Wilco. He’s an interesting man and builds his own drums and stuff.Joe: I would normally have to say something like a classical composer because I play the violin. But the first rock and roll I ever listened to was the Beatles, and that really shaped me.

When did you start playing?Justin: I started playing in 4th grade in Mrs. Millers guitar class after school. In one of the recitals I played the guitar chorus to “The Wind Beneath My Wings” *laughs*Joe: I started playing when I was 4 years old. I chose to do it back then, and stuck with it ever since. The whole electric violin thing, I just got the pick up installed this summer so it’s still fairly new, but yeah! I started when I was four.Caleb: I started playing when I was 7 or 6. My dad was a drummer and my uncle also played the drums, which really had a big influence on me. My dad first bought me an electronic drum set, and then I got the full acoustic one, which I still actually have now. They really just gave me the parts and let me run with it.Ethan: I started playing guitar when I was in first grade, and then in middle school sometime I started playing the drums and bass around the same time.

photo by Hannah Strong '16

Are you more of a Netflix binge-watcher or reader? What TV shows? What books?Justin: Definitely binge-watcher. I’m going to have to say Top Gear and Breaking Bad are the two best shows on Netflix, and I’ve watched them both multiple times.Caleb: I’m more of a reader. My favorite authors or either John Steinbeck or Richard Wright.Joe: I’m more of a reader too I guess. My favorite author probably has to be J.R.R Tolkin, the author of Lord of the Rings.Ethan: Binge watcher by far. My favorites are Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Adventure Time!

Are you single or taken?Ethan: I’m single AF right now, so hit me up ladies! *Laughs*Justin: I’m taken. Shout out to Madeline McGregor!Joe: I’m single!Caleb: I’m taken by the lovely Kjersti Traaen.

Do you have any tattoos? If so, what is it of?Ethan: I don’t have any tattoos!Caleb: I have a record player on my shoulder; it has buttons, swirls, and colors! Me and my music box. *Laughs*Joe: So, I just got a tattoo about two weeks ago! It was actually the day before one of our shows, and so I felt really bad because I had to tell the guys I couldn’t practice that day because of the pain. Plus, it took about 8 hours. Anyways, it's a seed of life inside a sun and moon mandala with flowers of life surrounding the whole thing. It covers my entire left pec and most of the tattoo is dot work! It healed a lot faster than they told me it would, so that rocks.Justin: No, don’t have any!

What is your favorite 90’s jam?Justin: I’m going to go with the classic “All Star” by Smash MouthEthan: Baby Don’t Hurt Me by Haddaway *sings*Caleb: “Semi Charmed Life” by Third Eye BlindJoe: “Fat Lip” by Sum 41

photo from their Facebook fan page 

What has been your favorite concert you’ve ever attended?Joe: Probably “Hootie and the Blowfish”. It was awesome.Justin: Definitely “August Burns Red”. I really haven’t been to many other concerts though.Ethan: I guess mine was probably “Skillet”, and when I saw them it was right when they were becoming a big band.Caleb: I went and saw “Cage the Elephant”…it was better than “Local Natives” and…they were just better than everyone else.  

Are you playing at Winthrop or anywhere near campus soon?Justin: Let me give you the DL on this. So we’re having an event called “Minnesota License Plate Band Smash the Van” on September 25 at 6 o’clock pm behind the Pike house. We’re going to be playing, but we’re hoping that other local bands will be there too. We bought a van, and we’re going to smash it and record a music video of people smashing it. If you come, you can be in the music video smashing our van and it’s going to be a good time.Ethan: And we’re going to be playing covers and original songs there too.

Is there anything else you want the readers to know?All together: Just look out for our new album “Kaleidoscope Sunrise” on our social media! Coming soon! We just wanted to say thank you Winthrop and goodnight!!

Stay updated with Minnesota License Plate by following them on social media!

Instagram: @MinnesotaLicensePlate


Vine: @MLPBandOfficial

Youtube: Minnesota License Plate


Ethan Snipes SnapChat: @ethansnipes3Ethan Snipes Instagram: @ethansnipes3 Joe Andrews SnapChat: @cjandrews91Joe Andrews Instagram: @carlshmoseph

Caleb Brown SnapChat: @walencorbbCaleb Brown Instagram: @walencorbb

Justin Smith SnapChat: @smithjustin94Justin Smith Instagram: @smithjustin94

A big thank you to MLP for letting me interview them! 

HCXO,Your number one fan & groupie