Mineral, Into It. Over it., Frank Turner— SOLD OUT
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When Mineral broke up in 1998, they had been together for only four years and released only two full-lengths, yet their shaping of the indie rock landscape cannot be overstated. “ – All Music Guide
EndSerenading was the second, and final album released by Mineral. It was the definitive statement by the Austin, TX-based band. So final, in fact, that the band members had actually gone their separate ways prior to the album’s release in 1998.
What ended in 1998 actually began four years earlier, in Houston, TX, when friends Christopher Simpson (guitar/vocals), Jeremy Gomez (bass), Gabriel Wiley (drums) and Scott McCarver (guitar) formed the band. Mineral launched into touring immediately, often alongside other indie bands like Jimmy Eat World, The Promise Ring, Texas is the Reason, Knapsack, Braid, and The Get Up Kids, garnering them a legion of fans from the outset.
Eventually the band relocated to Austin, TX and a debut single, “Gloria b/w Parking Lot,” on Caulfield Records followed, as did more touring. Via a ‘zine editor in Colorado, the single found its way to Jeff Matlow at crank! A RECORD COMPANY, which eventually led to an album deal and the release of The Power Of Failing in 1996.
Upon the release of their first album, Mineral quickly emerged as one of the leaders in the burgeoning indie/emo music scene. College radio loved the record. The press gushed about the band. It was inevitable that the major labels would come calling and Interscope Records eventually signed the band.
Such were the circumstances when the band went into Big Fish Studios in San Diego, California with Mark Trombino (Blink 182, Jimmy Eat World) to record one final record for crank! A RECORD COMPANY. EndSerenading was the result. The songs for the record had not come easily, nor did the recording of them. But the album was strong, emotional and daring. It was a Mineral album.
And then it was over. A statement citing creative differences was issued. The album was released and new bands were formed. Christopher and Jeremy went on to form The Gloria Record and Gabe founded Pop Unknown. Simpson also occasionally performs under the moniker Zookeeper.
But in a short amount of time, Mineral’s combination of poignant dynamics and impassioned lyrics about coming of age was influencing bands everywhere, and still inspires new bands today.
2014 marks the bands 20th anniversary, and the first time Chris, Jeremy, Gabe, and Scott have shared the stage together in 16 years.
Into It. Over It.
If there's a common thread spanning Evan Weiss' career it's his innate ability to take chances and push the limits of what people perceive Into It. Over It. to be and that forward trajectory continues with his fourth full-length Intersections. The album is the culmination of the long trail of LPs, EPs, cassettes and splits with acclaimed artists like Daniel Johnston and Koji that serve as sonic mile-markers spanning the seemingly endless highway of Weiss' musical journey.
Fans undoubtedly realize that Weiss has always been an incredibly ambitious artist as evidenced by 2007's 52 Weeks project which saw him writing, recording and releasing a new song every week or his Twelve Towns series which saw him teaming up with six different artists to release six separate split 7-inches that each highlighted a different city a few years back. Oh and when Over It. aren't on the road Weiss also plays bass with Polyvinyl Recording artists Their/They're/There (featuring American Football and Owen's Mike Kinsella) as well as the pop-punk act Pet Symmetry who are currently signed to Asian Man Records.
Weiss began working on Intersections with drummer Nick Wakim after Weiss returned from Into It. Over It.'s first U.S. band tour last year and from the start they laid down a series of ground rules to ensure that the album would showcase another new side of one of the underground's most celebrated songwriters. "With this record we wanted to try new things and make something that didn't sound like any other Into It. Over It. album because for us it's fun to try something new each time," Weiss explains from his home in the Windy City.
In order to accomplish this, Weiss decided he would write the entire album without using a guitar pick while Wakim—who laid down his tracks in between 12-hour shifts as an Emergency Medical Physician—strategically eliminated certain cymbals and drums in order to enhance his creativity. The result is an album that's expansive as Weiss' musical vision and has no limits when it comes to the direction of the songs. "A lot of this album is uncharted territory and I think you can hear the nervous excitement on this recording," he continues.
That excitement was captured at the legendary Soma Electronic Music Studios in Chicago by producer Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine) who helped bring things out of Weiss that he hadn't surfaced in the past. "Brian's idea of texture and sound is unlike anyone I've ever worked with before," Weiss explains. "Brian just has a different way of looking at things than I do and I think that's what drew both of us into doing the project; he seemed like the person to help me step outside my comfort zone." Admittedly it didn't hurt that Weiss also had free reign of the studio's impressive array of gear and the instrumentation on Intersections acted as another conduit that allowed Weiss to express himself in new ways.
That spirit of embracing the unknown instead of running from it is evident on every note of Intersections from sweetly syncopated groove of "Obsessive Compulsive Distraction" to the idiosyncratic beauty of "Spinning Thread." While Weiss' sound is rooted in the type of brutally honest underground rock pioneered by acts like Saves The Day and Texas Is The Reason (both of whom have handpicked Into It. Over It. to open for them on the road), Weiss still manages to keep Intersections from sounding like a throwback—and if anything the music becomes more relevant with each subsequent listen in large part because these songs weren't carefully calculated.
"There were a lot of happy accidents on this album," Weiss explains, citing the fact that the crystal glasses that he used to record the introduction for "A Curse Word For Leaving" just happened to be in the same key as the guitar part. "On previous records we were making sure everything was perfect and on this one I wanted it to sound a little more raw and natural," he elaborates. "For a lot of Intersections we were tracking it as we wrote it and if there were mistakes sometimes we left them in to give the song character and to help it feel like a band playing in a room even though it was just me by myself. We just let the songs be themselves and exist in the moment and I think that really helped the end result."
One thing that's always resonated with Into It. Over It.'s fans is how honest the lyrics have been and that's no different on Intersections. "All of our records are almost hyper-personal to a fault and I've been trying to keep it that way since the beginning," Weiss explains. While the concept of the album started out centering around different intersections in Chicago, as the writing progressed the concept itself became another happy accident as it shifted toward intersections in Weiss' life, making each song a glimpse into where things were in the past and how that impacts today. "It kind of just fell into place, it wasn't the plan but it worked out," he adds.
Simply put, Intersections is Into It. Over It. is the most unfiltered glimpse into his musical psyche. "It's not fun to do the same thing, what's fun is to evolve and try stuff you haven't done before," he summarizes when asked about the indefinable nature of his music as well as Intersections as a whole. "The goal is to transcend boundaries and I'd get bored doing the same thing over and over. Right now I feel like the square peg in the round hole and it's awesome. I wouldn't have it any other way."
The recurring theme throughout Tape Deck Heart, Frank Turner's fifth album, is change. Those who have followed Turner's career since he went solo in 2005 won't be surprised. After 1,400 incendiary live shows and four acclaimed albums, last year saw the musician previously known as a punk poet become (whisper it) a sort of pop star.
From a fake Glastonbury Tor, Turner performed at the Olympics Opening Ceremony. He headlined Wembley Arena. He sold more than 100,000 copies of his fourth album, England Keep My Bones, which entered the UK charts at No 12 on its release in 2011. Turner, of course, would never describe himself as a pop star. He prefers the word 'entertainer', with its tradition of vaudeville, theatre and music hall. His emergence from the underground he still adores – and still regards himself as part of – was tinged with trepidation. "Insane things have happened since England Keep My Bones came out," he says. "The success I've experienced was entirely unexpected. It made me think about where I started and where I'm heading. It made me wonder if I could continue as a musician with integrity influenced by punk rock while doing arena tours. The answer I concluded is yes, obviously, or I wouldn't be here." From Tape Deck Heart's sublime opening track (and first single) Recovery, however, it's clear that the changes in Turner's life have been personal as well as professional. One of several break-up songs on the album, Recovery sets tales of cider-fuelled nights in strange flats to joyous, jubilant, singalong rock. "I like that contrast between upbeat music and dark lyrics," says Turner. "It sounds like a happy song, but it's clearly not. The album is about unexpected change and a big part of it is relationships ending. I was in a long term relationship with someone and it was a huge shock for me when we split up last year. Because I write in a reactive way, I knew it would come out in the songs. As you can tell from the record, I'm still not sure the spilt was for the best. That's something else I'm conflicted about!" Tape Deck Heart was recorded last October in LA, which gave the 31-year-old more cause for concern. "It's such a cliché – bands reach a certain level of success, go to LA to record an album," laughs Turner. "I was nervous about recording outside the UK because my music sounds English and I like that, but in fact, it didn't make any difference. We stayed at the Holiday Inn next door and didn't finish until dark every day, so I scarcely saw the sun shine." The reason for relocating to LA with long-time backing band The Sleeping Souls was producer Rich Costey (Muse, My Chemical Romance and Nine Inch Nails). "Rich has worked on Springsteen and Johnny Cash records. I really love what he's done with Weezer. If any record fired the spirit of this album it is Pinkerton, which is dark and emotional album with an incredible standard of songwriting. It's pop with a dark, evil soul – a great combination." Before recording began, Turner tried out several of the songs on tour. One in particular became an instant fan favourite. A toast to punk rock, Four Simple Words is a fun, ferocious, celebratory stomp with an intro inspired by Noel Coward, which was given to fans as a free download on Christmas Day last year. "Lyrically, it's a love song to punk," explains Turner. "The music I make has only ever been partly punk, but it remains the cornerstone of my music, as it has been since I was 15. I was aiming for a song that crashes Noel Coward in to Bad Religion. It's one of quite a few songs on the album Rich said reminded him of Queen. My sister introduced me to Queen as a kid and while I'll never make music as ambitious as theirs, the song's stylistic schizophrenia is a nod in their direction." On Tape Deck Heart, Turner exposes his soul as never before. His most personal album, it is packed with songs he found difficult to record and now worries about releasing in to the world. It's also the album on which Turner pushed himself hardest and allowed himself to be pushed. The reward is in the rich detail, in unusual turns of phrase you'll hear once and never forget, in the raw emotion with which Turner tells of a turbulent 12 months. "We spent 30 days recording – the most for any previous album was 10," he says. "Rich made me do 42 vocal takes for Tell Tale Signs. That pissed me off, but he was convinced there was more I could bring to the performance and he was right. It's the darkest song on the album, with a vocal that's both delicate and powerful. It sounds absolutely vicious." Tell Tale Signs is a farewell – or rather, a fuck-off – to a mythical character called Amy, who first surfaced on Reasons Not To Be An Idiot (from 2008's Love Ire & Song) and resurfaced on England Keep My Bones' I Am Disappeared. "Amy is a cypher," says Turner. "More than one person contributes to that character, that awful person I want out of my life." Equally difficult for Turner to sing was the barely-accompanied ballad Anymore, on which he describes the 'three short steps' from his lover's bed to the door – the final, painful moments of a relationship that went out with a whimper. "It took a lot of persuading for me to record it," he admits. "It's still really raw. But if I wanted to make the best album I could, Anymore had to be on it. I played it to a friend and she said it sounded heavier than Slayer." Tape Deck Heart also portrays the positives of love and the benefits of change. The Way I Tend to Be is a gloriously sunny pop-rock song about a lover who brings out the best in you. Oh Brother is a midtempo track with a tinge of REM to it that describes Turner's relationship with his best friend Ben, the drummer in Turner's previous band Million Dead. "We spent 10 years in each other's pockets and now we don't," says Turner. "I feel bad about that, but Ben will definitely be best man at my wedding, if I ever make the mistake of getting married. I played the song to him the other day and he cried and I laughed at him." Fisher King Blues is pretty country-pop with a hefty sense of humour. Losing Days is charming, chiming rock on which Turner addresses the changes that come with age ("I used to think that I / Wouldn't live past 25," he sings, as though surprised that he has). Sonically, Tape Deck Heart's most surprising song is closer Broken Piano, a majestic, five-and-a-half minute ballad boasting military drums and electronic loops. "It's the most progressive song I've ever written," says Turner. "Musically, I don't really deal in originality – I'm no Bjork or Aphex Twin. It has something of a traditional English melody, but juxtaposed with lots of weird, electronic stuff. It's the song that pulls the album together. The rest are about being caught up in the middle of the maelstrom. On Broken Piano, I realise I've made it to the other side and that chapter of my life is closed."
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