We recently sat down with our friends Zak, Jesse, Brad and Yoni, the four members of Mini Simmons; a NZ based Blues-Rock band that captures the stomping swing of the wild 70’s, with groove oriented bell-bottom flare. The group was dreamt up on the Pacific highways of Mexico, while electrified campfire seances propelled the band onto the stages of the Auckland club scene. Keep reading to get to know more about the boys as well as their movements over the summer season…
It's been one year since we spoke; how time flies! What has been a highlight for the band in these past 12 months?
Spooky huh?? It’s been a cool year for us. The kind of year I think we probably set out to have when we started the band. Perhaps what we imagined as a freshman year, even though it wasn’t our very first together. It’s pretty hard to peg a single highlight, but the ‘CliffNotes’ would be releasing our debut Album, packing out a headline show at Galatos to finish a national Tour and performing at the APRA Silver Scroll Awards.
With your summer tour just on the horizon, what are you boys looking forward to most over the summer season?
Playing a lot! We’ve always gone over well as a live act, even before we got our thing together properly. We’re performers so we get excited to give it all up. We’ve got 8 shows over the next month with Racing; one of the most impressive Rock bands in NZ right now. That’s sprinkled with some great festivals including Splore, Kaleidoscope (NYE) and Soundsplash.
You guys released your self-titled album this July, congrats! How was the lead up to its debut? How many months in the making was the album?
Thank you! There’s so much planning that goes into releasing an Album that you don’t consider. We mostly figured it out on the fly. Obviously, the musical side of things is what everyone sees and hears and is really what we’re all about. The other side of things is the promotion – figuring out when to release singles, getting artwork, music videos and other content together, organising press, booking a tour to support it; it’s a mad house. Thankfully we had some amazing help from Harry Pettit at Birdsnest (booking agent & consultant), Georgia Parker (manager) and Christian Tjandrawinata (cinematography). The actual recording of the Album took about 14 days across a few months. When you add the mixing and mastering of the record to this along with all the promotion, I mentioned earlier… From first day of tracking through to date of release, it took the best part of 11 months!
Do you have a favourite track to play at gigs that gets the crowd amped?
Little Man Blue. It’s a sneaky surprise. It’s not our most recognisable song but it’s the most confrontational and it really goes somewhere. It’s got teeth and it bares them – lyrically and musically.
You recently covered Benee's hit Soaked at the silver scroll Awards, what was that experience like?
Amazing! And daunting. To get asked by Nathan Haines to perform, and to cover Benee of all people… It was our first time performing to industry so there was a bit of pressure once you coupled that with being live streamed and playing Benee’s song in front of her! She was the super cool though and we hung out a bit afterwards. I think people dug it. Hope Benee did haha.
You've released your latest album on vinyl - what an amazing way to present your craft into a physical tangible product! We're assuming this process was a little different to Spotify though so could you share with us the process of putting together a vinyl?
Sure... I think we always envisioned the album EVENTUALLY making it on to vinyl... So from the get-go we had that format in mind when recording, mixing and sequencing the album. There’s only so much music you can fit onto each side before it starts to deteriorate in quality. Luckily, we had a pretty good idea of the songs we wanted to go on the first Album so we skimmed what we had down to 11 tracks. The sequencing is really important with a vinyl record as you listen to each side in one go rather than the shuffle format that digital seems to favour. We made sure each side had a great opening track and took the listener on a bit of a journey to the end of each side. Side one ends with our country rocking ballad ‘Sunflower Fields’, whereas side 2 concludes the record with the epic blues stomper ‘Little Man Blue’. It also gave us the opportunity to go the full nine yards on Album artwork. We got together back cover art, an insert with thanks/acknowledgments and the centre labels for the actual record. That’s the sort of stuff that falls by the wayside with the digital age, and loads of younger people probably have no idea it exists anymore. We, along with everyone else in NZ have Holiday Records to thank for bringing that back to us in the 21st Century.
2019 has been a huge year for you boys! What's in store for 2020? Will an Aussie tour be on the cards?
Hopefully more of the same but larger! We’ve already got some festivals booked for the start of the year and we’ve just tracked 3 songs in the studio that will be ready to release in the new year too. We’ll definitely be getting back to Australia. We dipped our toes with a couple of shows in April this year, but a full tour is on the cards once we release some more music. We’re busy writing for the next Album in amongst all the noise too, so there will be some playing around with what we’ve got so far as well as writing a whole lot of new songs over the coming months.
We know you guys are well on your way to reaching amazing things, but is there an all-time dream for Mini Simmons? What does the grand plan for this look like?
To write, record and tour eight days a week. Headlining a sold-out show at the Hollywood Bowl might be nice too…