The Mint Chicks make spazzy, heavy, poppy music with lyrics about things like sports teams, love, death, obsession, and drug addiction. Turn ons: the Buzzcocks, comic books, A Clockwork Orange, Refused, speedfreaks, Devo, At the Drive-In, Flying Nun Records, Public Image Ltd, bright colours, black, the Beach Boys, Naked Lunch, Slayer ringtones, Pro tools, Miles' electric period, Grand Theft Auto, Black Sabbath, ring mod pedals, psychedelia, Roy Orbison, and the Locust.
Playing packed-out little venues in New Zealand since 2002, the Mint Chicks (singer and wurlitzer piano player Kody Nielson, bassist Michael Logie, drummer Paul Roper and guitarist Ruban Nielson) have climbed all the PA's, back flipped off all the drum risers, bloodied all the fingers, scrapped all the haters, broken all the hearts, ripped all the clothing, bashed all the microphones and smashed all the bottles in preparation for the release of their newest and most exciting record: 'Crazy?Yes!Dumb?No!'.
'Octagon, Octagon, Octagon' came in 2003, the Mint Chicks had just signed to legendary NZ label Flying Nun Records. It's influences were varied and it's local impact was felt immediately, taking student radio by storm with 4 number 1's and 5 'bnet' awards, even though it was only a six-track document of youthful enthusiasm and little bit of home-made inventiveness (the band militantly self produce/engineer their records, do their own artwork and designed their own website). This was the sound of hardcore damaged beyond repair by bubblegum, LSD and artschool.
The following year, after a single on the highly respected Fierce Panda label in the UK (hyped as a 'one minute masterpiece' by Kerrang) they released their second EP: 'Anti-Tiger', which placed even greater emphasis on both the chaotic and the melodic. It was well received, earning four K's from Kerrang, and '9/10' from Blunt magazine.
The year after that, the band had released a couple of EP's and toured New Zealand a trillion times (as well as doing a couple of trips to the US, one to England and half a dozen to Australia, having the good fortune to play support slots for the White Stripes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV on the Radio, and the Blood Brothers). They decided to shut themselves away and try their hand at a long player. They hired a house on a lonely beach in New Zealand's 'far north' (accessible only at low tide) and without as much as an engineer to guide proceedings they churned out 'F**k the Golden Youth'. Not quite the debut anyone was expecting, it has an abrasive sound and was by no means universally praised, but the Sunday Star Times called it 'revolutionary stuff' and Australia's Blunt magazine called it both 'one of the best albums of 2005' and 'pop trying to kill itself in the most sadistic way possible' in the same review.
The Mint Chicks latest record, 'Crazy?Yes!Dumb?No!', sees a few important progressions from the previous records:
Firstly, we find singer Kody Nielson's former disaffected, bratty screech practically smooth to a croon.
Secondly, we find the Nielson brothers songwriting finally in full flight. The Beach Boys have, for the moment, gained the upper hand on the Locust. Does this mean that this new record has seen the Mint Chicks hone their disjointed, noisy assault into an album of shiny pop anthems? Well, in short, yes.
Thirdly, although once again the band have recorded with very little interference from 'grown ups', there are a few exceptions. After the band had been recording and writing for six months in Kody's garage, they went to Chris Nielson (the father of the two brothers in the band) for help. A seasoned musician, Chris helped pull a gem from the quagmire by adding an experienced ear and some much welcome Pro-tools expertise. The Nielson brothers were helped through the mixing process and some additional recording sessions to get the record perfect with their father before handing it over to mastering legend Howie Weinberg in New York (Nirvana, the Mars Volta, Modest Mouse, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs).
Howard Devoto said that Punk was a way of 'trouble-shooting modern forms of unhappiness' and when you listen to the Mint Chicks you'll see they must have taken this to heart in a big way. Kody puts it like this: 'don't cut your wrists, you've got beautiful fists'.
Paul Roper (drums)
Ruban Nielson (guitar)
Kody Nielson (vocals)
Michael Logie (bass)