Monday, July 25, 2011
Mr Peppermint: Interview!
Thanks Winning Sperm Party for the image.
Mr Peppermint is due to play London's YES WAY festival in August and has material for a new album underway, Gilded Gutter caught up with the menacing masked noise duo from Glasgow to find a little bit more about them...
Who is in Mr Peppermint and what do they do?
Jonny plays drums and i play guitar and sing. My name is Jack.
Why did you start Mr Peppermint?
Because we like to jam together!
Have you been in any previous bands, if so who?
Yes, Jonny and I both play/ed in a band called Stomachs but our other guitarist is currently living in London so we don't play together much at the moment. I play guitar in another band, called Smack Wizards.
You’re based in Glasgow, how is the music scene up there? Any favourite venues? Local bands?
Its great! Lots of good things happening, there is plenty of good venues but i think in general its best to play and to watch gigs in different places (i.e. not in venues) like the West Princess Street flats or the Audio Lounge which is a rehearsal space. Places without bars are the best places to play, selling watery pints of Tennents for four pounds has nothing to do with music, despite what we are told in this country.
Croc vs Croc put on great gigs that are always fun and a bit different. Recently Winning Sperm Party purchased a generator and have been putting gigs outside in all sorts of spaces, like outside west street underground station and in an abandoned building near the Clyde, which is lots of fun.
There is lots of bands I love, Gropetown, Ultimate Thrush, Eternal Fags, Blue Sabbath Black Fiji, Thoth, Gummy Stumps, Divorce, and there is many more.
Is there anything you would like to change about your local scene? If so why?
Not really, i don't think anyone is really bound together in that way, its just people playing music, and there is lots of good music. There is plenty I'd change about the music industry in general but that's another story altogether.
Do you prefer playing or recording?
Playing live, although i do enjoy recording lots.
What inspired you to tape your microphone into a mask to wear while you play?
It comes from wanting to improvise guitar/vocals simultaneously. I find it so much easier to sing into a mic attached to my face rather than a microphone on the end of a stand. I want the vocals to be a part of the music rather than like an extra thing over the top of the guitar. Not so they sound the same but just so that when I'm play I don't have to separate the two in my mind and think 'ah I got to sing now'. I think the mic stand makes everything too indirect for me, and you have to know what you want to say/sing a few seconds before you actually do it, coz you've got to go up to the stand and get the timing right, but with the mask i don't have to worry about that. I can just do it without thinking, which really is the main idea. Not to think too much.
What kind of microphone is it?
It's the mouthpiece out of an old telephone from the 70's I think, really old. I have been using the same one since we started in 2009, but i have a few spares which I got from the dump for free, which was lucky because usually they don't let you take anything. All of them are from old phones.
Being masked are you interested in the idea of anonymity or creating a different persona while performing at all?
Emmmm, not really, I think I maybe on some subconscious level, but I only wear the mask because I wanted the microphone on my face. Jonny has his because we thought it would look better if we were both masked.
What’s your take on other masked bands like Nobunny for instance - or the heavily painted Kiss?
Well I've never heard of Nobunny, and a can't say I like Kiss much! I love Pink and Brown though who had a pretty similar set up to us I think. I would not wear a mask if it didn't have a microphone in it, it's just the best way to hold it close to my mouth.
Tell us little bit about how you learned to play, when did you first start learning the guitar? Are you self-taught? Do you look up to any musicians at all?
Well it all started with me having a hippy for a primary 5 teacher who was in a band, and he got half the class learning the guitar! I think the 'Postman Pat' song was first. I lost interest for a few years, but my dad plays, so it never went out my mind completely. Then I got given a Hendrix live tape which totally blew my mind, I actually listened to it recently for the first time in ages and it still sounds wild, tons of feedback, a long version of 'Wild Thing' that sounds like he must be smashing the guitar up etc, and this tape single handily made me want to play guitar! Total cheesy story but it did, i just thought it was cool as fuck that he could make all these strange sounds! My dad taught me the basics, and yes I look up to lots and lots of musicians, Davy Graham is an acoustic guitar player who is unbelievably brilliant on the guitar, I love Keith Lavene, Syd Barrett, Peter Green, Paul Leary, and hundreds of others.
Can you name the first band or album that really made an impression on you?
In chronological order it goes- Boyzone, Blur, Hendrix, Nirvana. After Nirvana I started to get into everything else, I'm into almost anything these days but for a while it was punk only, the weirder the better. There is lots that come to mind that have made an impression on me. Some stuff that I got into when I was quite young that I still love; Scratch Acid- 'the Greatest Gift' CD which has their two EPs and one LP on it, Flipper- 'Generic Flipper', Butthole Surfers- 'Locust Abortion Technition', the Bikini Kill singles collection, and Dead Kenedys 'Bedtime For Democracy', Melvins 'Hostlie Ambient Takeover', these were all my favourites when I was in school.
I really appreciated the fact I could go on Winning Sperm Party and download your album for free, what’s your take on the digital area vs the way things were before the internet?
Well its hard to say, because sadly I don't know what it was like to be in a band before the internet. I don't care about the decline of the music industry or whatever because that's all just capitalist bullshit. So that side of it doesn't concern me.
I like having it available for free online, because I want people to be able to hear our records, and its the easiest way to make it available to anyone. There is also lots of amazing stuff on winning sperm party so we are honoured to be a part of that! I like having physical copies too though, so we have CDRs, and we would absolutely love to get the new album pressed on vinyl but we have no money to do it. Hopefully one day someone will offer to help us out in this respect!
How did you form a relationship with Winning Sperm Party?
By going to lots of gigs and just gradually getting to know them all.
What’s currently playing on the stereo at your home?
I have the Christopher H. Taylor album 'The Tedious Dolour Of Christopher Taylor' in my cd player, the Gropetown/Rosanne Barr tape in my tape machine and the Shadows' Greatest Hits on my turntable.
What’s in the future for Mr Peppermint?
New album will be complete and day now! Playing Yes Way in london 13th of August, then touring the UK with Yola Fatoush in October. Also I think I'd like to record again before the end of the year. I really really want to go and play in Europe too.
“I’m full of dust and guitars” Syd Barrett, if you were cracked open what would be inside?
Blood and guts, and smoke, and a pomegranate..
I absolutely LOVE Syd Barrett by the way.