INTERVIEW: The Minders
Pop Music's Savior
By: Alex Steininger
Martyn Leaper and Rebecca Cole, the duo behind spinART Recording Artists The Minders, are completely approachable, kind-hearted folks who care what you have to say, whether you're talking about music or life. There is no arrogance or ego that hinders their communication. They're just a humble band writing humble pop songs because they love to create music and give people the chance to hear the noises inside their heads. Yet, they're one of the most innovative forces in the world of music today. And too many music fans are unfortunate enough to be clueless to their jingle-y pop bliss.
Their indie stock is quickly rising, though, with the help of releases like 1998's Hooray For Tuesday and their most recent release, Golden Street (both on spinART). Always managing to one up themselves without alienating the music or their fans, the band has a vision and is constantly writing and recording music to see their vision come to life.
Sitting at a little breakfast restaurant in Portland, Oregon, Rebecca, Martyn, and I discuss the band, the luxury of recording at home, touring, and Golden Street.
"We're going to CMJ this year and while we're in New York we're going to track some songs for our next album," Rebecca says excitedly.
Up until now the band has recorded all of their albums at The Walk-In Closet, their home studio which consists of two eight-track reel to reel recorders and one four-track machine in an upstairs room.
"It will be the first time we've recorded at a studio that wasn't at someone's house or practice space," elaborates Martyn, the main songwriter, producer, and engineer of the band. "The label wants us to release an EP in the fall, but I'm not sure we'll make their deadline. But they want us to track some songs while we're in New York for CMJ, and since they're paying for it we'll do it."
The Minders earned a tremendous fan base recording and releasing several 7" records on the now defunct 60's-revisited pop label The Elephant Six Collective, which received widespread critical applaud and a legion of loyal followers. However, the band is trying to move away from the Elephant Six tag and gain a following for themselves on their own name.
"I don't think we're an Elephant Six band, if we ever really were," says Martyn. "Elephant Six doesn't really exist anymore, but I don't think we ever really fit in, besides working with Robert [Elephant Six mastermind and Apples in Stereo front man] and being friends with him."
The band started to receive national attention away from the Elephant Six relation with the release of their E.P. Down In Fall, an album that expanded beyond anything they'd ever done before. "It was heavily influenced by living in the Northwest," explains Martyn.
Their latest full-length Golden Street helped earn them even more attention and critical acclaim, as well as an opening slot on Elliott Smith's last tour.
The album jumps back to their previous material, leaving the experimental-ness of Down In Fall on the sidelines for now, while still navigating ahead and breaking plenty of new ground.
"With Down In Fall we did a lot of experimentation," Martyn informs me. "We had a lot of ideas and a lot of stuff we wanted to do, so we toyed around with it. I think we'll do more experimentation on our next EP.
"With Golden Street, though, we stuck with what we do normally, but still brought in a lot of new ideas and things we wanted to try. We added violin and trumpet and used instruments in new ways."
As for the band's current plans?
"We're going on tour with this great band called Mates of State, you should really check them out," Rebecca tells me. "Then we're going to go to CMJ and track some new stuff."
"Have you heard of Mates of State?" asks Martyn. "Their album is called My Solo Project and is really good. We're excited to go out and tour with them.
"We're going to be touring throughout August and September and then finish up, get the EP out, and start working on the next full-length. This is the most extensive touring we've done and I think after we wrap it up, we'll pretty much be done with touring in support of Golden Street."
The Minders are currently touring the nation, building their fan base, gearing up to hit the studio and record another album. And if their track record is any indication, it will be a pure explosion of pop brilliance.