Mineral Girls, hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina describes themselves as “post-internet emotive pop.” The members are also fond of “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater,” and the band’s singer, Brett Green, is a cheese aficionado. Both Green and Mackenzey Ayers, Mineral Girl’s guitarist, chatted with us about the band, their re-release of “Cozy Body” on several different formats and as echoed by numerous artists out there today, the state of sexual harassment and safe spaces at shows.
Modern Vinyl: Let’s hear a brief, informal history of how Mineral Girls got their start, just to kick off things here. What brought all of you together?
Brett Green: Vince [D’Ambrosio] and I were in other bands together in the past and I kept getting kicked out of them. Mineral Girls originally started as the live band for a solo project. I was playing shows around town with backing bands with various names that we thought of last minute. Our first demo was like some acoustic bedroom songs under the name Brett Green & The Mineral Girls. The lineup switched around a couple times, and Mackenzey [Ayers] actually joined because they happened to be at my house when we were writing a song, and just wrote parts that were too crucial to the song to let go of. We actually never even played the song again after that practice. Dylan [Fleming] was also just around at the right time, I think. Our previous bassist quit and he was just at my house when it happened or something.
MV: You all seem to have some strong affection for pizza. In a perfect world, what would that perfect pizza be like?
BG: Thin crust, white sauce and a ton of cheese. Any sort of taco pizza is always good. There’s this one place in town that has a pizza with four meats and four cheeses that’s pretty dope. It’s got gouda, feta, mozzarella and some sort of goat cheese. Realistically, all the food I eat is just a vehicle for cheese.
MV: Charlotte is such a wonderful town. What makes it so special to you?
BG: All of the giant apartment buildings they keep building in the cool neighborhoods are pretty rad…um, we have some of the best worst bars. There’s a lot of really good food. I am fortunate enough to work at a cool record store in town, so I meet a lot of people with similar interests to mine. There is a lot of resident musical brilliance. The music and art scenes tend to be very open and welcoming towards artists and there is always a show worth going to just about every night.
Mackenzey Ayers: I moved here in the beginning of 2013 and it’s been one of my favorite places since basically day one. It’s big and there’s a lot of stuff to do, but it’s not so big that it’s super impersonal and overwhelming. There’s a lot of good attitude and progressive thought shared around the city, especially in our age group, which is really important to me. It’s just got a lot of heart and personality.
MV: In your opinion, what version of ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater’ is the absolute best?
BG: I could talk about Tony Hawk games for hours – just ask a local bartender. They just got better and better every game up through “American Wasteland” and then they go downhill from there. I don’t know really, each one holds a special place in my heart. I grew up playing through them as they came out, and then have played through them all multiple times since. Tony Hawk’s Underground definitely has the best story line. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 has my favorite levels. I have probably played Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 the most though. I have the first eight games on a special shelf in my living room, along with this game called Disney’s Extreme Skate Adventure that was made by the same people. It uses the game engine as THPS4, but you skate as various Disney characters. I learned about that one a couple months ago and had to hunt it down. I even started playing through the BMX counterpart games. I really don’t know what I would do if i didn’t have a PS2.
MA: 3, or the first Underground game for me.
MV: You’ve got some fairly exciting things in the works, one of which is a re-release of ‘Cozy Body’ on a few different formats, including vinyl. Why release this on vinyl now, as opposed to its initial release?
BG: We only really wrote the album because our friend Josh Robbins had said something to me about putting out a tape for us on his label, Self Aware. We probably would have done one this year at some point, but the initial effort was put in because it was mentioned to us. We never really expected it to be anything more than that.
MA: No one really knew there would be interest, so it was risky to press it upon the initial release. Luckily, the record ended up reaching some ears and we got asked by multiple people to give them permission to press it, and we ended up going with Slow Fires for a few different reasons. We’re all truly still amazed and grateful to have this album out on vinyl. I honestly think it’s good that we had the wait between the releases, as it kinda gives the record a chance to have a second wind and it might end up reaching even more people that way. Who knows.
BG: Yeah, we are really excited about it. The dudes at Slow Fires have been super awesome about everything and we are excited to be working with them. Hi Gabe. Hi Bill.
MV: You’ll also be re-releasing it on cassette. What do you like about cassette tapes, and what makes that nostalgic medium so great?
BG: Every car I have ever had only had a tape deck. I was making a lot of mixtapes when I got my first car, and after that, every band I have ever had put our stuff out on tapes. I have always been way more comfortable recording on tapes versus computers. It’s just kind of a natural thing for me. When I was little, I would sit in my room and jam on the preset songs on a little Yamaha keyboard, and record me singing into my Toy Story tape recorder. They’re also really cheap to make and they still sell blanks at grocery stores and shit.
MV: With the news of the re-release, does this mean a tour of sorts is out on the horizon?
MA: Nothing concrete for now, but we definitely want to do something early next year.
BG: Yeah, we did two shorter tours for the initial release this year. We were planning on doing something in November but it kind of fell through. We’re going to get back out on tour as soon as we can, most likely like February or so.
MV: Earlier in the summer, one of the shows you played had an incident where a man groped several women in the crowd, leading to him getting banned from that particular venue. Hearing about incidents like that is always disheartening, but as a band, you all have the power to help facilitate a conversation about sexual harassment and assault. How have you come together to open up a discussion about sexual harassment and assault?
BG: We made some sort of statement about it initially on our Facebook page, but that was just kind of a natural response thing. No one should have to feel unsafe anywhere they go. Music is for everyone.
MA: I will openly admit that I honestly don’t believe we have done enough. You’re certainly right that we are in a position to facilitate a conversation; I think the band as a whole would agree that that’s an important thing that we need to start doing. That particular instance definitely made us all more aware of just how unsafe shows can be for some people, especially women, and we certainly want to do what we can to help address, and hopefully change that. We have always made sure to book shows with bands that share in an inclusive mindset, and we plan to keep doing just that. Personally, aside from speaking out against it verbally, I’ve been thinking about handing out fliers to show-goers. There’s a site called Safer Scene that’s doing a lot of great stuff as far as raising awareness about sexism/misogyny/assault/etc. and its prevalence in the music scene. They’ve got a few stat sheets and stuff that I’d like to print out and pass around starting with our next show.
MV: Looking ahead to the future, do you see the scene as a whole becoming more of a safe space for everyone, and keeping shows as safe spaces?
MA: I certainly hope so, and I’d like to think so, but I believe we do have a ways to go as far as that’s concerned. The difficult part is trying to reach those that don’t tend to experience the toxicity of the music scene firsthand, those that don’t feel unsafe at shows. A lot of people turn a blind eye to it because they simply don’t understand the ways in which it manifests, and they think people who speak out against it are being overdramatic, or they think that it isn’t as common as it really is. Unfortunately, these people tend to outnumber those who are aware, and there’s power in numbers. We need to continue to raise awareness and lift up the voices of those who feel oppressed, rather than talk over them. I think this applies to more than just the music scene, really the world at large when it comes to social injustices.
BG: Yeah, it’s crazy. A friend of ours wrote an article for a local music blog about sexism in the music scene, and there was a lot of support towards it. It was really odd to see that other women were sharing the article and calling the writer names and telling her that she shouldn’t go to shows if she feels that way. That’s insane to me. Being a straight white dude, I have never been a victim of sexism or sexual assault at a show, but I have seen it, and there is no doubt in my mind that it happens. The article was really well written, and a lot of good points were made in it, my favorite being that music scenes tend to be closely knit groups, and people often don’t want to acknowledge that their friend is doing something shitty. It really sucks that it’s taking humanity like a million years to progress towards not being awful to each other all the time. I’m not a very optimistic person, but I really hope this is something we can all get better at.
MV: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about and add to this?
BG: Currently we are writing some new songs that will most likely be released as a 7” maybe around the spring time. I think they are pretty good. We also intend to get back on the road as soon as we can as well. We all really like touring, but we all have full-time jobs, or school currently. We intend to get out as often as we can while still keeping our jobs. I made a music video for one of our songs recently, but every time I try to save it, the program crashes. Maybe that will come out soon. I can’t be sure though. Uhh, it’s really cool to be working with both Broken World Media and Slow Fires. It’s really cool that anyone cares at all.
Preorders for the “Cozy Body” re-release on vinyl can be found right here via Slow Fires. Three options are available for purchase, with the 7″ being limited to 40 copies. You can also can pick up the second pressing on cassette over at Self Aware Records’ webstore, or a digital copy via the band’s Bandcamp page.