UTG INTERVIEW: Mineral @ Riot Fest Chicago


Nostalgia is something special, especially to the music scene. Memories are tied to bands that have become defunct, and have gone to do other things. That’s what makes the reunions of those bands so special. It brings a crazy amount of people together to cherish a special occasion that may never happen again.

The reunion of Mineral is not shy to that reality. With a giant tour of America, and soon to reach overseas, the band is helping fans relive that nostalgia for one night in a live setting.

After Mineral’s set at Riot Fest Chicago, UTG had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Simpson, the lead singer of Mineral, and talk to him about the band’s reunion and other projects.

How was the show last night?

Chris Simpson: I think it was probably our favorite show so far. Sounded really great, I think everything really came together.

You’ve only been out for like a week right?

CS: Yeah, a week and a half, two weeks, somewhere around there.

How’d you get hooked up with Riot Fest?

CS: The booking agent reached out to them when we were first putting the tour together. The timing seemed good.

You also wanted to play another club show?

CS: We played Double Door last night, but it was an official Riot Fest after show.

You had Into It. Over It. out with you. What was the idea for bringing them out?

CS: We just had a lot of common friends I guess. I hadn’t really even heard them before we took them out, but a bunch of people were like you should take Into It. Over It. out, it would be a great match.

Forgive the quote “emo revival” but I think he’s got to be one of the leaders of this. With Kinsella from Owen and Their/They’re/There, he’s a great guy.

CS: For sure. He seems like a hard worker.

Was there a reason for the timing of your reunion? I think I read that Jim Adkins asked you to do a show?

CS: He asked us if we’d possibly be into doing a show in the summer, back in January or February. And we were interested enough to get together a few times and start practicing. And see what happens. It was rough at first, but we immediately felt the connection to it.

Why didn’t that show happen? That would have been awesome.

CS: Yeah that would have been cool. A lot of bands try to get a day that works for everyone. Especially at the age where people are like, “Well I can’t do it that day, because I have a baby due.” Life happens. By the time we realized that show wasn’t going to happen, it just felt right to go ahead and do a tour.

What do you think of the whole anniversary tour concept? You’re doing something different; more of a reunion and playing a diverse set instead of whole album all the way through.

CS: I see a lot of friends that are touring and are really struggling out there. It’s really hard to get people to come out to tours and buy tickets. The specialty, more anniversary tours, or doing this one record from start to finish, are almost created by the market. You have to sell them a specific idea. Instead of coming to see this band play, come see this band play this one record you really loved.

From a fan perspective it’s really cool.

CS: And probably from a lot of band’s perspective it’s cool, to be able to do a tour that people want to come out to.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s getting too congested and played out.

CS: I don’t know, people will either be interested in seeing it or not. If people want to see it, then it’s awesome.

Let’s talk about Zookeeper. Want to spill some information about that?

CS: That’s what I’ve been focused on for the last couple of years. Recording and writing that record. Without any prior knowledge, I had finished it, then the whole Mineral thing happened. The record comes out October 14. That record is much more of a pet project. It’s my baby. It’s more autonomous, creative for me. I really enjoy doing Zookeeper. Mineral has definitely made me realize how much I love the chemistry of a band.

Since Zookeeper is essentially just you?

CS: Kind of…and over time, we’ve had different band members in Zookeeper. So it’s different than having a set band.

I read in the BrooklynVegan interview, you talking about the unfinished Gloria Record album.

CS: Yeah, we have a whole second album of material that never got quite finished. It’s definitely a possibility that we would try and finish some of that or do some shows. We’ve talked about it a few times over the years, but it has never really come to fruition.

You had Mineral, then did The Gloria Record, and there was a big gap right?

CS: Yeah, The Gloria Record came out in 2002, then the first Zookeeper came out in 2006. So yeah, a bit of a gap.

So when you go to write for Zookeeper, what kind of influences and motivations do you have? I mean, it’s been 20 years since the start of Mineral- how do you still find things to write about? There has to be a difference now from back then.

CS: I’m interested in writing much shorter songs now. More simple songs. That’s what characterizes the Zookeeper material. I just like short, sweet and simple.

What transitions in the musicality will there be from the Gloria Record to Zookeeper?

CS: I definitely absorbed a lot of ’60s and ’70s rock. Maybe a little more rootsy vibes. It’s just a little more simpler, more straightforward, I guess.

Do you think you’ll do any touring with Zookeeper?

CS: I don’t have any plans really. Maybe because it’s just a project that I just kind of work on. Finish a record, and have to put a band together, now this Mineral stuff is happening. I dont know how much I’ll do for it, touring wise. I’m just really happy to get it out. Definitely do some shows. I’ve been playing solo when I play for Zookeeper. Back in the past it was more full band. I’d like to do that again.

When you go into picking musicians, do you just get friends?

CS: I used to just take anyone with some spunk or skill level. Through that process, I’ve found a lot of great musicians. To me it’s always more feeling over function, or it has been in the past. Now I understand the need for function more, but I’m still kind of just interested in the feeling of creating something.

Feel like you have to be a little bit selective, and have some expectations.

CS: What’s different about this, is that I did make it on my own. I took all the control of the creative process, the production and whatnot. In the sense that I have the ideas for everything; how it should sound, what should be happening. It’s been fun working with producers on a more one-on-one basis, as opposed to a whole band, like a whole kitchen full of cooks. Right now, Mineral is just super fun, playing electric guitar in a band, with friends.

Interview written & conducted by Corey From — (follow him on Twitter)

Corey From

Corey From, from Kansas City, MO, when not thinking about or listening to music, obsessively thinks about Royals baseball, a platter of ribs (or BBQ in general) and cold beer. Nothing special really.
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