1811 14th St. NW
Washington, DC, 20009
Watch & Listen
In 1997, after less than four years together, Mineral broke up. But while some bands simply fade away after calling it a day, that wasn't the case for the Austin-based four-piece. In fact, it was quite the opposite -- their legacy grew and grew. Not bad for a band who had just put out a handful of seven-inches and two studio albums, 1997's debut The Power Of Failing and 1998's posthumous EndSerenading. Back then, Mineral's members -- vocalist/guitarist Chris Simpson, guitarist Scott McCarver, bassist Jeremy Gomez and drummer Gabe Wiley -- were little more than kids, early-20-somethings with a magical chemistry that can still be heard and felt in those songs today, but which few people ever got to experience at that time.
But then, in 2014, something remarkable and unexpected happened. Mineral got back together -- something they said they'd never do -- and played a whole bunch of shows, first in the US and then in Europe, Japan and Australia. Not only did that mean audiences were finally able to hear songs from EndSerenading in a live setting for the first time, but the band were also playing large (and sold out) venues rather than DIY basement shows and enjoying the kind of success that -- despite signing to a major label -- they never experienced the first time around.
Now, on the 25th anniversary of the band's existence, something else remarkable and unexpected has happened: for the first time in more than two decades, Mineral has written new music. The two new songs -- released physically as a limited edition 10-inch 45rpm vinyl record and hardcover book -- pick up exactly where the band left off all those years ago, ebbing and flowing with the band's trademark grace and beauty, but also carrying the weight of the world -- and the past -- on their shoulders. "Aurora" is a lilting, soothing and melancholy song that floats for eight gorgeous minutes and was born out of an idea Chris had, while the blueprint for "Your Body Is The World" -- a haunting, elegant and dreamy tune full of tenderness that explodes and soars to its end in an epic crescendo -- came from Jeremy. Both are classic Mineral, songs that fit perfectly with that highly-regarded back catalog but which also represent who the band members are today, two decades later.
"When we started this whole thing," says Jeremy, "I'm not sure that any of us were 100% confident that we'd be able to write a couple of songs that we could pass off as Mineral songs. But the fact that we did it and came out with two songs that, personally, I think sound great makes me super happy. And I think they're a good representation of where Mineral might actually be in 2019. It's a good bridge."
"I agree," says Chris. "It was a task that we set for ourselves that we hoped we could do, but it felt all along like a challenge that may or may not be met. Making new material as Mineral when everything Mineral is known for is those two records which came out a long time ago was almost like having a writing prompt. You can't just write anything -- it has to make sense with what it was before. But it obviously also has to be us now. So it was about how to marry those two worlds."
Not only do both songs, which were produced by famed engineer/producer Dave Trumfio, do exactly that, but so does the 56-page book that comes with it. Featuring a written history of the band by music journalist Mischa Pearlman, it also contains brand new interviews with the band as well as contributions from Jim Adkins (Jimmy Eat World), Tim Kasher (Cursive), Norman Brannon (Texas Is The Reason), Frank Iero (My Chemical Romance) and Robert Pope (The Get Up Kids), as well as others close to the band who have played an important role in either their past or their present -- or both. The book also includes a great deal of rare and never-before-seen photographs, memorabilia and handwritten lyrics, ensuring this is something to be cherished as much as the new songs themselves. And while it's entirely possible these could be last songs the band ever write, this release will be followed up with a tour in 2019 in order to truly celebrate this long-awaited new chapter for the band -- because this is something definitely worth celebrating.
Though technically the band's third full-length, Out of the Garden is Tancred's first truly cohesive record: a mission statement that underscores the "power" in power-pop and is punctuated by lyrics as razor-sharp as the hooks.
Written over a two-year period during a break from touring, the album's emphasis on re-defining feminine expectations was shaped by primary songwriter Jess Abbott's experiences living in Minneapolis and working at a liquor store in a rough part of town.
"I learned how to speak up when I needed to and how to truly be myself without reservation," Abbott recalls. "I felt afraid walking home at night, and after a couple of months I just got sick of it and started getting into self-defense and self-empowerment as a means of coping. Finding my own strength changed everything."
After writing and tracking every song in her apartment, Abbott (also of beloved Minneapolis trio Now, Now) enlisted Kevin Medina and Terrence Vitali to add drums and bass to her demos. The band then traveled to LA to record with OFF! bassist Steven McDonald and That Dog vocalist/guitarist Anna Waronker.
Both producers proved to be the perfect collaborators, with each elevating the final takes via their specific areas of expertise — Waronker helped Abbott achieve the raw vocal attitude exhibited on songs like the seething "Hang Me," while McDonald orchestrated the tailor-made guitar tones and trashy drum sounds highlighted on standouts like "Joey."
As a result, Out of the Garden showcases Tancred shedding its former skin in favor of a bolder and infinitely more confident sound.
Opener "Bed Case" bolts off the starting block with a guitar salvo straight from the '90s before "The Glow" ups the amperage with crunching riffs and pummeling distortion. Soon after, smooth as silk "Sell My Head" serves up a chorus so intrinsically catchy you'll already be singing along the second time around.
As Abbott reveals, "I wanted these songs to sound sickly sweet, with a looming, gory shadow behind them. Sugary, but when listening closely, unsettling."
This juxtaposition is presented flawlessly during the chorus of "Pens" when Abbott sings "I'm insanely healthy in my head / It's crazy how stable I am" amidst a background refrain of "oohs" and "aahs." While your head reflexively bobs along to the melody, your brain is compelled to decode the ominous double meanings embedded in her cleverly chosen adjectives.
Her fearlessness to discuss these and other personal topics is referenced in the album's title, an allusion to exiting Eden and leaving behind all the restrictive cultural norms ingrained in the Biblical "paradise": tradition, purity, holiness, binary gender, heterosexuality, and the idea that anything is forbidden (especially for women).
Says Abbott, "Out of the Garden represents doing what you want, what you need, without letting anything or anyone stop you — and smiling while you do it."