What ended in 1998 actually began four years earlier, in Houston, Texas, when four friends formed a 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.
Upon the release of their first album, The Power of Failing, 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 their final record for crank! 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.
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. Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Mineral vocalist/guitarist Chris Simpson to discuss the reunion tour, recording their albums, and this is what he told us.
Had seeing other bands from the ‘90s do reunion tours make it seem like it would be smart to do your own reunion run?
I really don’t think that until the last year or less it was on my radar as a possibility. It wasn’t something that I saw myself being interested in doing. Seeing other bands do it hadn’t affected that at all. Something changed at some point obviously. I talked to Jim Adkins from Jimmy Eat World last year in Austin when they were here for the Austin City Limits festival and we were reminiscing about how it had been 20 years since the band started. I can’t imagine what it has been like for them to be active and working that whole time. It got me started thinking that if there was a time to do something that it would be this year. So it has just been in that short amount of time that I’ve allowed the possibility of it happening into my mind.
Mineral is playing its first show in 20 years on Friday (August). Do you have pre-show jitters or are you practiced and confident at this point?
Pre-show jitters. I should say pre-show jitters aren’t here just yet, but they will be. We don’t feel over prepared. So we’ll go in with that small percentage of possibility for failing, which makes everything go well.
Is this the test run for the larger tour?
We leave for the tour next Tuesday (September 2), so this is our warm up (laughter).
I imagine with it being in Austin you’ll have a lot of familiar faces and friends in the crowd, which will make it easier…
Yeah. It will be fun. It will be nice to play for family and friends.
What are the most satisfying aspects of playing with these guys again and which songs feel the best to play again twenty years later?
The camaraderie or the chemistry musically between the four of us. It was something that maybe I took for granted when Mineral was around the first time because I was young. It was one of my first bands and I thought this was how it was with all bands. I’ve since realized that there is definitely something special between the four of us, both musically and personally. So my favorite part has been reconnecting with these guys on those different levels.
As far as material that we are excited about playing, getting to play a lot of the stuff from the second record, EndSerenading, that we never really played live before is so much fun for us. We really liked that record and never got the chance to tour on it. So we’re excited about getting to play a lot of those songs.
I understand that the process of doing that record was maybe a little difficult for you guys. What was going on that made that a game-changer for the upward trajectory that the band had at the time?
We started the record when we were still a band. We recorded the basic tracks and a lot of the guitars. I didn’t have lyrics for a lot of it yet, so we knew we’d have to come back at a later time and work on that. So we left it where it was, went and did some tours, and sooner or later six months had gone by and we were reaching the point where it seemed we wouldn’t be continuing on. We still felt strongly about finishing the record because we all liked the music and we’d already started it.
So I went out by myself once to do the majority of the vocals and some more guitar work. Then Abe and I went out to oversee the mixing of the record the time after that. It was definitely crafted for the most part knowing that it would be the final record and that we wouldn’t be making time to play the songs live. It was kind of an interesting time to be making a record and not really knowing what was next. It was a very different experience making that record than it was making Power of Failing where we were four young, very enthusiastic people who couldn’t have been any happier about where we were and doing what we were doing.
Was the pressure of being signed to Interscope add to it falling apart? What was going on and what kept you invested enough to even finish the record?
We had labels that put a lot into us, and I’m thinking mostly of crank! We had signed a deal with Interscope, but that wasn’t supposed to kick in until the third record anyway, so we didn’t really have that looming or hanging over our heads too much. We really liked the record, crank! had already invested in it, and we wanted to put it out. So I don’t think it had a lot to do with Interscope…it may have inadvertently or unconsciously affected things on some level, but for me personally, I was just tired of touring all the time. I was starting my relationship with the lady I’ve been with ever since, and I just wanted to be in one place for a while and cultivate that. Musically, I had a lot of ideas about things that I wanted to do that I couldn’t really see Mineral wanting to do or doing. So I think I was just ready for a do-over and a change of scenery.
In retrospect I realize that I took certain things for granted; the success, the connection that Mineral had made. Because I was young, or because it was my first band out of the gates, I thought that I’d be right back where I left off when I started doing it again with something else, but clearly these things don’t really happen that way.
With trying to pursue music after the fact, the scenery didn’t entirely change. You continued to collaborate with Jeremy Gomez. What is it about your dynamic that continues to click?
I’m not sure. I’ve known him longer than the other guys, though not by much. I just always felt closer to him. That said, we’ve had times when we haven’t been as close or seen each other as often over the years. But we’ve continued to play music doing Zookeeper, which is a project where other supporting cast have come in and out of the picture. Jeremy is someone I always call if I have a spot that needs filled on bass or drums or anything really. He’s just a great musician.
So I have definitely playing with him over the years. After Mineral with Gloria Record there were five or so years where we were playing in a full-time band together. I don’t know exactly what it is. Similar tastes and sensibilities.
What do you credit the success of Mineral to? You were one of the predominant emo bands of the ‘90s. You had recognition nationally. Was it because you were touring constantly?
There was a work ethic there in the sense that we were young and that was all we wanted to do. So we were in the van and on the road as much as possible. That scene that we happened into was a huge part of our success. There was an established network of D.I.Y. culture at the time. It is incredible considering it was pre-internet and pre-social media. Now it makes sense that you can establish and maintain these kinds of networks. Back then it was an extraordinary thing.
We randomly played a show in Houston, one of our pseudo hometowns, with Christie Front Drive in 1994 and that was our introduction to that whole scene. They ended up putting out our first 7” and we went on our first tour with them and that’s how we really got out there. And once we were out there, there was just a wonderful network of people doing zines, and record distributions, and bands, and it was easy to tour and set up tours to play for people.
Did you realize at the time that you were making a lasting impact on the scene?
No, not at all. I don’t think we knew. I would still go home after every tour and most of the people I knew would say, “Yeah, never heard of you. Never heard of any of the places you play at.” Other friends who were musicians too, didn’t understand the whole scene we were involved in. They couldn’t understand that we were touring and not necessarily playing rock clubs. I don’t think we ever had an opportunity to see any sort of impact. We felt a connection with and from people, and at the end we had a website and there was a messageboard that provided feedback. And we got a lot of emails from people that said we impacted them or that they connected with it. So we had a sense of that, but nothing beyond that on any larger scale.
Is it humbling for you now today to see people like Keith from Empire! Empire! or Evan from Into It. Over It. who acknowledge that Mineral had that impact on them and have inspired them to do what they are doing?
Yeah. We’ve been very surprised by the response to the reunion, and I’ve known Keith for a lot of years and started to see…I thought that the whole concept of scene or D.I.Y. network didn’t really exist anymore. So I was impressed when I met Keith and started to see what he’d done with his label and what other labels like Topshelf were doing. Every time I would go see Empire! Empire! in Austin they’d be playing some place that I’d never heard of. That’s just what Mineral used to do – little word-of-mouth D.I.Y. shows. So it was cool to see that it still exists.
But I don’t think we really knew what the response would be to doing a tour until we put it out there. It’s been really exciting.
There are plans to rerelease some material soon too, right?
We are doing some vinyl reissues and those songs are remastered on double LPs. We are also doing a double CD and that will have all of the songs that were on the 7”s on there, and some of the outtakes from the Power of Failing sessions. That was really the only extra stuff we had, some alternate versions of songs people had heard. There’s not much else left to be unearthed except for maybe an early cassette demo three-song thing that had another version of “Slower” on it. We haven’t been able to track that down. But the demo had two other songs that we are happy to leave buried in Atlantis or wherever they are.
Will the reunions be a one-off thing or are you considering going the way of Braid who’ve come back from extended hiatus to making music again?
That’s an interesting question for sure and not one we’ve had time to get our heads around since we’ve been busy preparing for the tour. We don’t have any plans to do anything beyond the tour at this point, but if it were to happen, Braid have shown that it is possible to do. It is weird for a band to put out however many records and then suddenly reappear this many years later and put out records again. Braid has done a great job of doing just that and the record is so seamless. It fits right into their catalog. But it is also mature and seems like it has those years in it.
So it is something that is possible, but I’m not sure if it is something we’ll fell inspired to do. It will take more time. Braid has been reconnected for a while. I think new material grows out of time together.
Now that you’ve had 20 years to reflect on this, what are the predominant lessons that you’ve learned that you wish you knew at the time?
I don’t know. I don’t have a lot of regrets. If it was anything, it would be the things I already alluded to. When you are young you take things for granted because of lack of experience or lack of understanding the way things work. I would encourage myself if I were to be able to go back and talk to that guy now not to take things for granted. I would also encourage myself to follow my heart and intuitions, which is what I did.
I don’t know. I wish, I wish…I don’t know.
(Mineral will reissue their two seminal albums, 1996’s The Power Of Failing and 1998’s EndSerenading, each remastered and on double DMM 180 gram vinyl on October 20, 2014 internationally via Xtra Mile Recordings and on October 21, 2014 in North America via Arena Rock Recording Co. The labels will also release Mineral – 1994-1998, a double CD compilation of both albums with previously unreleased songs recorded during The Power Of Failing sessions, as well as bonus tracks recorded during various sessions.
Catch the band live here:
SEPT. 4 BROOKLYN, NY SAINT VITUS* (SOLD OUT)
SEPT. 5 NEW YORK, NY BOWERY BALLROOM* (SOLD OUT)
SEPT. 6 NEW YORK, NY BOWERY BALLROOM* (SOLD OUT)
SEPT. 7 NEW YORK, NY BOWERY BALLROOM* (SOLD OUT)
SEPT. 8 NEW HAVEN, CT CENTER CHURCH ON THE GREEN*
SEPT. 9 WASHINGTON, DC BLACK CAT*
SEPT. 10 BOSTON, MA PARADISE ROCK CLUB*
SEPT. 11 PHILADELPHIA, PA UNION TRANSFER*
SEPT. 12 CLEVELAND, OH THE GROG SHOP* (early show – SOLD OUT)
SEPT. 12 CLEVELAND, OH THE GROG SHOP* (late show)
SEPT. 14 CHICAGO, IL RIOT FEST
SEPT. 15 COLUMBUS, OH SKULLY’S*
SEPT. 16 ST. LOUIS, MO FIREBIRD*
SEPT. 17 KANSAS CITY, MO THE RECORD BAR*
SEPT. 19 DENVER, CO RIOT FEST
OCT. 22 SAN FRANCISCO, CA THE INDEPENDENT*
OCT. 23 SAN FRANCISCO, CA BOTTOM OF THE HILL*
OCT. 24 WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA THE ROXY*
OCT. 25 WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA THE ROXY*
OCT. 26 POMONA, CA THE GLASS HOUSE*
OCT. 27 PHOENIX, AZ THE CRESCENT BALLROOM*
NOV. 2 GAINESVILLE, FL THE FEST 13
NOV. 3 ATLANTA, GA MASQUERADE (HELL STAGE)*
NOV. 4 GREENSBORO, NC THE BLIND TIGER*
NOV. 7 AUSTIN, TX FUN FUN FUN FEST
JAN. 31 MILAN, IT LIVE FORUM
FEB. 1 RIMINI, IT VELVET CLUB
FEB. 3 BERLIN, DE PRIVAT CLUB
FEB. 4 COLOGNE, DE GERBAUDE
FEB. 6 SOUTHAMPTON, UK JOINERS
FEB. 7 BRISTOL, UK THE EXCHANGE
FEB. 9 NOTTINGHAM, UK BODEGA
FEB. 10 LEEDS, UK BRUDENELL SOCIAL CLUB
FEB. 11 GLASGOW, UK STEREO
FEB. 12 MANCHESTER, UK RUBY LOUNGE
FEB. 13 LONDON, UK THE UNDERWORLD
* Into It Over It supports)