Band Profile: Minmae

Interview Minmae

Named after a Robotech character, Minmae began in 1997, initially as a side project. The conception was a result of Sean Brooks (of Thee Psychic Hearts) using the studio time that was paid for, but that his band couldn’t use. In the last seven years since that two song recording (which became the “Poltergeist Over England” 7”), Sean Brooks and a revolving cast of support went on to release seven full length albums.

Anything but generic, Minmae is one of the most prolific and diverse artists that you’ve never heard of. On top of all the full lengths, they have put out countless singles, splits, live, and compilation tracks. While somehow managing to maintain an element that is wholly Minmae’s own, the style is boundless. The list of influences and comparisons is endless and varies from album to album, track to track. Over the years there have been countless comparisons to the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Arab Strap, Sonic Youth, Flying Saucer Attack, The Microphones, Guided By Voices, Smog, Polvo, Hood, Wilco, Lou Reed, and Bowie. Confused yet? Descriptions have ranged from lo-fi indie pop, new wave, droning shoe gaze, experimental, minimal, and downright schizophrenic. Brook’s chameleon yet identifiable voice has been compared to Willy Nelson, Syd Barrett, Bill Callahan, and Neil Young, and David Byrne to name a few.

The most consistent element contained within the extensive catalog is the excellent and thoughtful song writing. It has a very personal pensive feel, despite the note in the inlay that claims “All of the places and characters in our game are purely fictional (although most are not purely functional, since they use mutation). Any similarity to real persons or places is purely coincidental.” It’s even difficult to put a finger on where the band is from. The band is based out of Portland, Oregon now, but there have been unconfirmed links to San Francisco, North County San Diego, and El Centro, California.

The Minmae’s effort “Ya Te Vas?” was released on Devil in the Woods. Translated, the Spanish title means “Leaving already?” On this release Brooks sticks with the collaborator he’s been with the longest, Josh Kempa, on bass. Meanwhile, Greg Murphy takes care of percussive duties. This album is a bit more cohesive and guitar driven than some of the past releases. At times it brings to mind some of the bands that in my opinion embody the term “indie rock.” When I hear the first track, “The Previous Show,” I imagine Jonathan Richman singing for Archers of Loaf. The second track sounds like it could have been an outtake from “Bakesale.” With all the critical acclaim and weighty comparisons, Minmae remains to be one of the most tragically underrated acts to date.