INTERVIEW: Mini Mansions
Fresh from supporting Arctic Monkeys and releasing their single ‘Death is a Girl’ Mini Mansions indie synth pop has been creating a wide range of emotions and crossing many musical genres with their upbeat live shows and melodies.
Whilst everyone will instantly recognise the easily distinguished sound of Michael Shuman’s base playing abilities in QOTSA, Mini Mansions have been creating their own individual sound and amassing their own legion of fans throughout America and the UK. Hailing from LA, the bands shared love of 60’s psychedelic rock and fated long-standing friendship seen their musical venture was born organically.
Their forthcoming album ‘The Great Pretenders’ is set to be released sometime in 2015 and features collaborations from Alex Turner and Brian Wilson. Gigging NI’s Aine Cronin-McCartney managed to catch up with before they embark on their extensive UK tour supporting Royal Blood. Be sure to catch them when they arrive in Belfast’s Ulster Hall on the 11th of March.
Who have been the artists, bands or people that have inspired you to become involved with music?
“That’s hard to say, I guess there’s always been artists/bands that totally reconstructed my perspective on music—–and then artists that literally got my hands off the record player and on a “record” button. The main heavy hitters for me early on were Dead Kennedy’s, Pavement, The Beatles, R. Stevie Moore, and early Of Montreal.”
How did Mini Mansions form/come to be?
“We’re all pals from the past, particularly Zach and Michael. Mike and I were swapping our own weirdo lofi songs for a bit and dorking out on each other. When we all finally weren’t frozen by school and other musical ventures we all got together and hit it off, like getting to dance with a long-time pen pal.”
You have all been friends for a very long time does knowing each other so well help when you are writing new songs/material?
“Yes of course, it makes it a lot more fluid and impulsive. I’m grateful for that. Especially since a lot of the ideas we try to push for are pretty off-kilter.”
Your sound has been described as being quite 60’s and psychedelic what has been your main influences?
“For me its always been a mesh of the standard and not-so-standard psych ambassadors. Obvious ones for me being The Beatles, the Kinks, the Zombies, Procol Harum and early ELO. But the little guys that stole my heart were definitely freak-beat bands like Tomorrow, The Nice, July and US dazed stuff like Lazy Smoke and Yellow Balloon.”
Your newest album offering ‘ The Great Pretenders’ will be released sometime in 2015 what can fans expect to hear from it?
“I’d say it’s both a step inward and outward for us. For me, a lot of our first record was centred heavily on symbolism and emotional medleys derived from a sort of dream-state, reflecting both what we’ve already internalized and what we wish we had inside. I think this next record feels more like we woke up from those dreams with a strange sense of clarity….and a lot of warped anxiety, but in an even stranger environment than before.”
Brian Wilson is set to appear on the album; how was he to work with and what was he able to bring to the song ‘Any Emotion’?
“It was a total honour to have him on-board, I mean, we literally grew up with his voice in every stage of life. He’s a very private person, so we sent him the intro to the song he most gravitated to and within a few days he had tracked these gorgeous sets of vocal arrangements on his own that worked perfectly. It still feels like a dream.”
What has changed since your self-titled debut album?
“I think just like anyone else we’ve all gathered a couple more years of romantic anomalies, odd experiences and wild cards on our back, so our tastes, attractions and general outlook on what we create has broadened. We’ve also become a lot closer as a band and way more personal with our work.”
Do you feel that sharing the responsibility of multi-instrumentalists each of you has more freedom as a musician to experiment?
“For sure. There have always been limitations being a three piece drums/bass/keys that I think we actively try to both work with and against. Though I think still a lot of that experimentation is focused on shaping new moulds of song writing within that confinement.”
“We were all friends to begin with. Alex lives near the studio we were recording the record at, so he’d pop in all the time to distract us with various antics and vices and bits of magic. We had an open verse on that song we wanted to fill with a sort of English hiphop alter persona. We wrote a few drafts but nothing stuck completely since it was such a large hat to wear, so we were like, why not get the real fucking McCoy English gangster in the house to do this? Bob Hoskins and Malcolm McDowell can’t rap, hence Alex Turner being the most perfect and ideal candidate anyone could ask for. He threw down and killed it.”
You will be supporting Royal Blood here in the UK in the New Year how much do you enjoy coming back to the UK?
“We love going across the pond to play to UK audiences. They’ve got a presence to them that’s different than the states. Exotic.”