Minnows (Columbus, OH) started releasing singles back in May, but I had missed out until receiving an email last week asking if I'd be interested in premiering their new tune. With quite a stack of résumés between them, the lineup's wealth of experience has here coalesced into a wide-ranging sound that tends toward an emo/indie angle while branching out into spacey/grungy post-hardcore textures and the occasional power pop-infused chorus—not to mention meaningful lyrics that have thus far leaned in a personally political direction. All three songs are quite impressive, leaving me more curious than usual to hear what the album-in-full, Foreign Moon, will eventually have to offer.
Until then, stream "Two Truths" below, followed by a quick chat with vocalist/guitarist Sean Gardner:
Since Minnows is a relatively "new" band—at least in the public-facing sense—I'll ask a generic band history question, seeing as there's not much info out there yet. In a way, Minnows represents a change of pace compared to some of the members' past efforts, so how did the lineup come together and land on this musical direction?
Each of the members crossed paths with each other in previous bands for the last couple of decades that have a wide range of influences. Minnows is Ben's brainchild. Ben Schreiber (guitar) and Alex Weinhardt (drums) were in a math rock band called Six Gallery. Ben and Sean Gardner (vocals/guitar) briefly performed together in the space rock band The Receiver. Ben, Phil Cogley (guitar/vocals), and Alex play in a Weezer tribute band (The Pinkertones). Alex and Adam Lowe (bass) were in the thrash band The Black Antler. Phil has a quirky art-pop project called The Saturday Giant that Gardner helped to perform in for a couple of shows, and they toured together briefly when Sean was performing as his solo singer/songwriter project, Winter Makes Sailors.
Having formed in early-2020 and completed most (if not all) of the writing and recording during the peak of the pandemic, did you know from the start that you wanted this to be more than just some "pandemic project"?
The band started in 2019, but only had a couple of practices. So, the energy of starting a new band propelled us into and through the pandemic. The record took shape through emails, text threads, and Skype meetings. Writing this way was new territory for all of us, but ended up forming the way the band still writes, and I think ultimately helped us avoid many of the pitfalls we've had when starting other bands. New bands are always exciting to start, but then you have to feel each other out and learn to compromise artistically. Working through email allowed us to just move faster and avoid some of that.
I think we got together once during the end of the pandemic and tried out the songs live and worked on bridges and outros. You can definitely hear that on the record. Minnows is all about getting to the big release. Ben bought a bunch of clear shower curtains and N95s (when they were hard to find) and headphone extension cables. It seems silly now, but we were dying to get together (no pun intended). Along with shower curtains, we also invested heavily in bigger, louder gear. I never thought I'd do it, but I even bought my first full stack, because I was starving to crank up my Marshall head.
We're premiering "Two Truths," which is somewhat slower and more atmospherically expressive than the preceding two singles. Share a bit about the meaning/tone of this particular composition.
Writing this song was our first real artistic struggle as a band. Alex and I had trouble agreeing on it, so we recorded two arrangements and the band agreed that the deciding factor could be a singles match in [the video game] Rocket League between me and Alex. Ultimately, however, I ended up finding a part for the intro section that everyone liked and we moved forward.
This song is a little less "in your face" than our previous singles, but you'll find that it really sits in the pocket of our record overall. I think this song captures the dynamics of what we're going for sonically. It still has a crushing rhythm section, but has a little more space. The end, however, catapults into these almost chaotic guitar parts before sliding into me—isolated in my living room—singing and playing piano.
All three singles are quite strong and seem to point toward a consistent blend of energy and emotion with politically-inclined lyrical themes, so I'm looking forward to the 11-song debut LP, Foreign Moon. I haven't seen many details yet, however. What can listeners expect in terms of release date, label, formats, etc.?
Thanks! We are excited for everyone to hear this record and then move on. We recorded it ourselves in my basement studio. We could be as artistic and creative as we wanted. I put in well over a hundred hours in my basement and sent Jon way too many tracks [laughs]. I wanted to make Siamese Dream seem lo-fi.
Between our working class schedules and perfectionistic tendencies and Jon Markson being the go-to mixing engineer (he's super busy), the process has taken longer than we initially expected. But, he has been extremely patient with us, and we are super stoked with the result and look forward to self-releasing the full, finished record in early-2024.
Hear two more excellent singles from Minnows at Bandcamp; or through Spotify, Apple Music, etc. Find the band on Instagram or Facebook. If you're in the Ohio area, catch them live with Curtail on 11/17 at Blind Bob's (Dayton) or 11/18 at It's a Kling Thing! (Akron).