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INTERVIEW: MINERAL

You can’t have read this blog without knowing our feelings on Mineral. From naming ‘&Serenading’ as the no.1 emo song of all time to the love letter/tribute to Mineral we published last year we have made it quite clear how much this band means. On the eve of their first ever UK tour, it is a complete honour to share with you a Q&A with Mineral drummer, Gabriel Wiley, we conducted by email.

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Is This Thing On? – Hi. On the eve of your first European tour as a band, how is everything in the Mineral camp?

Gabriel Wiley – Doing well, real excited about playing Europe.

ITTO? – I heard that Mineral reuniting was Jim from Jimmy Eat World’s idea, had you ever discussed reforming before then? When did you first start realising how much people still loved Mineral?

GW – Yes, Jim wanted to put together a show with many of the bands they toured with in the beginning of the band. We were among those asked which caused us to get together and discuss it. Due to many problems the show never happened but we had started practicing and figured we might do a show or two. A nice fella from the windish agency said he’d like to book us some show out east and so he did. Everything has grown from there. After mineral, we were all in other bands and through shows with those bands we would be asked a number of times if and when mineral was getting back together. So we had some idea of the interest yet, it is very enjoyable to see how excited people have been.

ITTO? – Have you talked as a band about why you split up when you did? Was it an amicable split at the time? And was there any awkwardness when you first got back together?

GW – No, we haven’t and it would be counter-productive. I would not call it amicable but no knives were thrown. I don’t remember much awkwardness, at least for my part.

ITTO? – You’ve already completed a lengthy tour in America, how has the reaction been?

GW– It’s been fantastic and a bit humbling. There are times when I can hear the crowd singing louder than Chris’s vocals. The band that opened the US tour, Into It-Over It is awesome and we had a surprise in NYC when Frank Turner opened. That was incredible.

ITTO? – Have you discovered anything new about these songs that you’ve not played together since the last century, some of which you never played live?

GW – No, I know it’s not a very interesting answer, but they seemed to be just as we left them. I would like to say that I had some kind of spirited re-kindling with the songs, but didn’t happen.

ITTO? – I have friends who have seen you numerous times on this tour already and they’ve all commented about how you just keep getting better every show, have you noticed a progression? Are you a better live band now than you’ve ever been?

GW – That is true. Nothing prepares you for tour like touring. I believe we are better now than when we were actually a band. It definitely hurts more now.

ITTO? – In 2012 this blog counted down the top 100 emo songs of all time and ‘&serenading’ was number 1! What’s your favourite Mineral song and has it changed since you’ve reformed?

GW – Favorite is parking lot, and no. We would be a damn fool to change any of it. But &serenading is my wife’s favorite as well.

ITTO? – Do you have anything special planned for your Euro/UK shows? Do you have any idea what to expect over here?

GW – Nothing special, we’ve added a new song, 80-37 to the list (well new to the list but not a new song, as it were). I have been over here with a couple of bands and have a rough idea as far as some cultural differences and the like. (In Germany they like to make you pay to use the toilets!). But as for how people will receive us, I try not to expect or assume how a crowd will react to us.

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ITTO? – There has been a massive resurgence in bands playing this type of music over the last few years and many bands have cited you as a major influence, do you feel part of the current ’emo’ scene? Or do you still identify yourselves as still very much a 90s band?

GW – I feel much more like a 90s rock band, but I can use the word emo in the same sentence as Mineral. As for a current emo scene, I’m not sure I know who that would be. I am 43 and listen mostly to podcasts and music recorded before 1980. I never made music with the intention of influencing anyone, but it is nice that some bands point to us as inspiration.

ITTO? – I see you’re still announcing tours/festival appearances, what else is next for Mineral? Any plans to bring back any post Mineral bands (Gloria Record/Imbroco/Pop Unknown) ?

GW – After this tour, we play a festival in Belgium and Spain in May. After that, maybe nothing, not sure. There is some talk of South America, but difficult to say. I don’t see any of my old bands doing anything, but might talk to the other fellas about their intentions.

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Sorry kids, Dad has some new babies now!

 

ITTO? – And finally. I bought my first Mineral album in 1998 when you had already split, I never dreamed that almost 17 years later I’d get to see you play live. Is there any band you would absolutely love to see reform?

GW – If I could go back to 1977 and see led Zeppelin that would be my wish. But without time travel, ummmm a Seattle band called these arms are snakes, a fantastic Seattle band. Super kick ass. See you at the show.

ITTO? – Thanks so much Gabriel

Get in touch. http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog, Twitter @alex_itto, ittoblog@gmail.com

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Joie De Vivre

Bands from years ago, bands we all loved/still love, have been reforming to play reunion shows and tours a hell of a lot recently and this year is no exception. It does excite me somewhat when I hear that I may get to see a favourite band play live again. It’ll never match seeing them play the first time around though. However excited we get to go to these gigs we all wish we’d been there in their heyday playing some tiny basement somewhere. Which is why, when I see that a new band that I’m really excited about is going to play somewhere within reasonable distance I’m going to make the effort to turn up. As we arrived to see Joie De Vivre play in Brighton last Friday (6th July) I mentioned to my friend that this was my Mineral! Now I know that sounds a bit dumb. I never got to see Mineral play, not that many people did and Joie De Vivre have been compared a lot to the emo legends. But I think it’s more than just a comparison in their musical style. I believe that Joie De Vivre are a truly special band who make beautiful records, just like Mineral did. So getting to see Joie De Vivre play just weeks after the release of their latest album it felt like one of those moments that I will be looking back at, in years to come, and thank goodness that I was there.

As I just mentioned, Joie De Vivre released their new album, ‘We’re all better than this’, in the last few weeks. It’s a record that has been creating quite a buzz amongst us emo types on twitter and the like recently and as soon as you put the record on you can see that’s it not all just hype. It’s a tremendously uplifting record and so was the experience of seeing them play. They were playing with Football, etc., another band that I’m a huge fan of, at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar in Brighton. We got there early, enjoyed a pizza and the flashback shows playing on a big flat screen TV (Including clips of Neighbours, Gladiators, TFI Friday and Willo The Wisp) ,waited patiently through the other support bands and made our way to the front for the reason we came. Read about Football, Etc. HERE.

Joie De Vivre had arrived onstage later than expected and wasted no time in setting up and launching in to their set. The room was soon packed and the crowd were in great voice. It is often a worry that you can build expectations up too high when you go to see a band that you love and there is nothing worse thn a band turning out to be rubbish live. It really ruins them for me. I remember seeing Soundgarden play at Reading Festival in 1995 when I was 15, at the time I was as big a grunger as could be and I had the long, greasy hair to prove it. Soundgarden were the 2nd to last band to play on the main stage on the Sunday and they were awful. The sound was bad, they looked like they couldn’t be arsed to be there and the hour that they played for seemed to drag on forever. After that, I never really felt the same way towards them again, even though ‘Superunknown’ was one of my favourite albums at the time, It was now tainted. I digress but I just had to get that out there, I’ve kept it in for so long. But I’m more than extremely happy to report that Joie De Vivre absolutely killed it!!

It was a set heavy with songs from the new record and that beautifully positive and uplifting sound translated incredibly well to their live show. The sounded faultless and looked like they were having the time of their lives. Every time the trumpet played I was getting goosebumps and we had the added thrill of Lindsay Minton from Football, Etc on hand to provide backing vocals like she does so delightfully on the album. What a treat! They also had a great banter about them, the breaks between songs were often as entertaining as the songs themselves. When deciding what songs to play at the end of the set someone in the crowd shouted out, “Play the song that sounds like Mineral!”, singer/bass player Brandon Lutmer looked him in the eye, pointed his finger at him and with a huge grin exclaimed “Done!”. It’s such a joy to see a band enjoying being there.

‘We’re all better than this’ really is a contender for the album of the year. It’s so good it annoys me that songs like ‘Maybe people don’t change’ and ‘At least I tried’ aren’t included in the Is This Thing On? top 100 emo songs of all time because they deserve to be there. I will have to do an updated list at some point. Although I’ve talked about how uplifting I find the music to be, the lyrics speak of love thats lost and a willingness for things to go back to what they used to be. This never brings the tone of the record down, the emotion is true and the delivery is honest, you can tell that being able to write these songs is working in a cathartic way. The album is also very precise, the songs don’t linger on like they could do. Many of the tracks are less than 2 and a half minutes in length and they don’t need to be any longer, they always manage to convey what is needed and this also helps to be as listenable as possible. As soon as it’s finished you can just stick it back on and enjoy it again.

The album, whilst still retaining that 90’s emo sound, sounds less like Mineral than their older releases. There are still influences running through, a bit of Gloria Record here and there and ‘Going to a going away party’ starts off by sounding a bit like Joan Of Arc at their best. But overall ‘We’re all better than this’ sounds like Joie De Vivre, they really have come in to their own on this album. If you know what is good for you then you will go and buy this record if you haven’t already. If you are here in the UK you can order it HERE from Strictly No Capital Letters, or you can download it HERE from Count Your Lucky Stars.

Live photo’s courtesy of Living well productions, thanks Mikee

I hope you enjoy it. Again and as always, thanks for reading. Feel free to comment or come bother me on twitter (@alextb3)

Cheers x

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