The 1990s was a decade of regeneration and re-birth for rock music, with first grunge, then pop-punk and then nu-metal changing the face of the music world. Away from the glare of the media spotlight however, a quieter but no less significant musical revolution was birthed.
In Praise of... Mineral
Frank Turner and Jimmy Eat World's Jim Adkins salute one of emo's finest and most influential bands.
Emo might have had its origins in Washington DC's Revolution Summer of 1985, but the form found definition and direction in the mid to late '90s, when artists such as Christie Front Drive, The Get Up Kids, The Promise Ring, Braid and Jimmy Eat World married the DIY aesthetic and passion of hardcore punk with the more cerebral, sensitive aspects of indie rock to create a new underground movement.
Texan quartet Mineral were among the pioneers of this new sound. Originally from Houston, but largely based in Austin, the state's most liberal city, the quartet's The Power Of Failing (1997) and EndSerenading (1998) albums established a blueprint for emo that would influence and inspire musicians throughout the following two decades. Melding quiet/loud dynamics, chiming guitars and heart-on-sleeve lyrics, Mineral offered refreshingly pure perspectives on life, love and loss, channelling their own experiences into raw, nakedly emotional songs which resonated profoundly with a generation of rock fans alienated by the increasingly cartoonish nature of '90s punk rock and the lunk-headed machismo of nu-metal. Both albums are essential listening for those interested in the development of US underground rock in the 1990s. But don't just take our word for it: here are the memories of two musicians who freely admit that Mineral stole their hearts...
Jim Adkins (Jimmy Eat World)
We were sleeping on floors. Mostly of other bands’ houses and random people we met at shows. Kerry McDonald from Christie Front Drive lived at the Arapahoe warehouse in Denver, Colorado. It was a big space with several rooms they had built out and a huge garage area where they would host shows. He told us about Mineral… this band they had run into on the road. He was going to put out their first 7”. Then he played us Gloria and Parking Lot. Man! I thought this was going to be massive! Over the next year or so, 1995-1996, we got to be friends with them. Did a split 7” with them. Toured and slept on more floors. Magic times. For me, Mineral’s music will always be a time machine into a world of lugging awkward and heavy equipment down a steep staircase to play a basement. With five bands. For maybe twenty people. Barely making gas money. Because the music was that important to all of us.
Mineral are one of my foundational bands. I stumbled across them as a teenager, a while after they'd broke up, and it was hard to get hold of their records, which gave the whole thing an extra frisson of excitement. But it was the music, pure and simple, that hit me. I still consider them to be one of my bigger influences to this day, one of the bands of my youth that have totally stood the test of time. I flew out to New York to see them recently, and there are very few other bands I would do that for.
Mineral's classic The Power Of Failing and EndSerenading albums have been newly reissued on vinyl in the UK by XtraMile. The label has also released Mineral - 1994-1998, a two CD compilation collating both albums plus a wealth of rarities and previously unreleased tracks. For more information, go here.