Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Theodore Grimm started out right here on Mint 400 Records. I remember when they first wanted to tour years ago but didn't have any merch and asked if I could help them get together a demo to sell on the road. So pretty much the first official release for Mint 400 Records would be the 200$ demo we recorded at a friends studio and the photo copied covers and hand stamped CD's held them over for the time being.
I remember the night that they chose the name Theodore Grimm, it was Halloween and they had found a grave stone labeled Theodore Grimm that they were using as decoration at their annual outdoor Halloween show. Before that they had been known as Razorblade Love Affair and had some lineup changes. Even back then their songs always had this chaotic charm to them. My involvement with the band over the years makes it all the better to report how amazing their newest album is. I was lucky enough to hear the 9 song garage rock dance masterpiece in its entirety before it's even been mastered. All of the elements are there that make up an amazing band and record. This is one of the few local bands that have influences that reach beyond the last decade. Whenever I listen to Theodore Grimm I always hear shades of Joy Division, 13th Floor Elevators, The Cure, Bauhaus, Gang of Four, and a billion other things. Mark Renda is one of my favorite guitar players, to me he ranks alongside the best, his riffs are somewhere between Joey Santiago of the Pixies and Dick Dale mixed with some Pink Floyd and thrown into a blender of 60's garage rock. David Grimm has always had the rockstar swagger but with this quality that let's you know he is genuine about what he is doing. His vocals on this new album are the best they have ever been, they are comparable to Julian of The Strokes but there is something more heartfelt about David's delivery because you know he's not the son of some millionaire, he's the working man. In a way Theodore Grimm always reminded me of early Black Sabbath because of the vibe and the place where they had all grown up. The sons of working people, Theodore Grimm seemed to always be playing on whatever equipment they could afford and they have been a band for almost a decade and somehow have always sounded great through it all from the crummy equipment to all the lineup changes. However Brian, David and Mark had always been at the heart of the band and finally it's like all the hard work has paid off with their first real full length record.
This record from beginning to end is an instant classic and I am so glad that the band has worked through all of the fights over the years and stuck out to make this record. Every song has a raw energy and haunting quality to it. It's something that you just have to hear for yourself. Something that makes music great for me is the pain you can hear in the authors voice, it's something you can say about artists from Nick Drake to Nirvana and in more subtle examples the Violent Femmes and Husker Du. It seems with Theodore Grimm that this pain is there and felt through every song, the words don't seem to matter as much as the feeling that the overall song gives the listener. Maybe that's just me reading into the record too much because I know the band personally but I think the average listener who enjoys some of the bands I mentioned will love this record. In conclusion all I can say is that I am so proud of where this band has come from and where they seem to be going.
For now check out the video above and expect this amazing album to be available soon from the band.
Monday, April 25, 2011
As both the Ladybirds and Mergers & Acquisitions records are set to be re-released this May 3rd through Mint 400 Records, the label was able to catch up with vocalist Teeter Sperber and ask her a few questions about both projects.
Mint 400: How/when did you come to start both of these projects (Ladybirds and Mergers &
Teeter: Ladybirds formed many years ago, in 2006, after the break-up of my joke not joke mall-emo band, Ley Royal Scam. Tyler, the keys/guitar player of Ley Royal Scam, asked me sometime after the end of things if I wanted to do an electro cheezepop project and I was coasting waywardly through life, per usual, and thought it sounded rad so we did! We recorded for a month in the basement of the Creep Records house in suburban PA.
Prior to the Ley Royal Scam breakup I had met Neil through another bandmate. Neil asked me to sing on his record and I was nervous as all hell to sing in front of cool dudes I didn’t know but I did it and then when the time came for Ladybirds to record I asked him to do the same! Insta besties guest starring album switcharoo style.
Neil had always said that he and I should make music together outside of Fairmont but the timing never quite worked out until this past year. I was on a break from my travels and in New Jersey visiting my family and we met up and kicked out a bunch of songs in a very short time! He already knew he wanted to call the group Mergers & Acqusitions, I already knew I wanted to name the album “Grape Soda” and we both already knew that we wanted to avoid being in press pictures at all costs! Aesthetic anonymity is crucial for this project, woot woot!
Mint 400: What inspired you to collaborate with the various artists that you worked with on the
Ladybirds and the Mergers & Acquisitions albums?
Teeter: For the Ladybirds record, the people we worked with were all close friends of mine or Tylers. I had grown up being obsessed with the Get Up Kids, followed them on tour all over the world like a true spazzcore creepy superfan, so having Matt Pryor (lead singer of GUK) sing on it was like a teen dream for me. Years previously I had met Max Bemis of Say Anything when he was just a young peanut and we had became very close friends. I love his gravelly weird old-man voice and was thrilled that we were able to get him to sing on it cause that dude is super hard to track down. We got so lucky!
Justin from the Danger O’s was Tyler’s Philly area mini-sidekick and Neil, of course, was always going to be a part of it. My favorite guests (besides Neil!) were the KID CHORUS, though. They were a bunch of shy ten year old kids from the record label owner’s daughter’s elementary school. They came in and sang on the song “Andy Lex” (a wicked ridiculous love song about some dude who didn’t know I was alive, natch) and to this day it’s one of the things I am proudest of ever having made, even though the actually Andy Lex is a total goofball. I love their voices so so much it hurts.
For M&A, we kept it just Neil & I, but we asked ____ (golden voiced female singer from Fairmont whose name is totally escaping me, I’m so so sorry!) to do a few backing vocals to sass things up a bit. Other than that, this EP is the making of a tried and true lo-fi fantastic indie nerd duo.
Mint 400: Who are/have been your main influences in regards to your music (musical or even
Teeter: Wow, main influences is a big one – I’d say it’s a toss up musically between Gaslight Anthem, this 70’s boy group called The James Boys (two pre-pre-teen brothers with giant bowl cuts wearing bellbottomed overalls singing tunes about their “Sugar, Sugar Baby” ) or a band called Milk’n’Cookies – also a 70’s teenage rock band, from Long Island, NY, total wildcat long-haired hellions, who wrote songs like “There’s Not Enough Girls in the World” and “Buy This Record and Take It Home.” Waayyyy before their time, man. Best band. So funny.
Culturally my main influence is age-innapropriate teen television programming: Teen Mom and Teen Mom 2, Sixteen & Pregnant, Glee, Greek, Make It or Break It, Jersey Shore, etc etc. On a deeper level, though, I spend a lot of time volunteering for a non-profit organization called KEEN, Kids Enjoy Excersize Now, and it’s basically super fun weekly gym sessions where I go and run my guts out with kids with disabilities – anything ranging from partial blindness to Down’s Syndrome to Autism and on and on. Volunteering, in general, with anyone disadvantaged, is probably the most important thing to me in life right now. Alongside wondering what the heck happened to Leah and Corey from Teen Mom 2’s failed 6-month marriage!
(Continued from Part I)
Mint 400: How would you describe the music for both projects? Were there any similarities or
differences in the writing process for the two in any way?
Teeter: Ladybirds we always described as “indie electro cheezepop”, “like getting hit over the head with an ice cream cone”, “Cindy Lauper meets the Postal Service on diet pills before Ephedra was banned by the FDA”, “music made for fans of Miley by fans of Jawbreaker”, etc, with covertly aggressive lyrics, whereas M&A is way less electro, more lo-fi lullabye style, and has far more sincere lyrics. The writing processes were actually super different.
With Ladybirds, Tyler would write the music, we would write the vocal patterns together and, with the exception of one song, I’d write all the lyrics. The reason the lyrics on M&A are way more sincere is because Neil crafted them and he’s an effing five stars lyricist and tunemaker – so I prefer it this way to the max!
Mint 400: Are there any consistent themes or topics to your songs?
For Ladybirds it was standard mainstreamo-jams fare: hating on a loser ex-boyfriend, digging on a new love interest who most certainly didn’t dig on you back, silently dying while trying to make it in New York City, still silently dying while trying to make it outside of New York City, friends who steal yr identity, unicorns, glitter and dance parties. For real!
Mint 400: What were some of the challenge with being involved in each of these projects? How
were you able to overcome these obstacles?
With Ladybirds/Tyler the hardest part was that he was in Gym Class Heroes and they were CONSTANTLY on tour, so the fact that he had this month off and so did I and we were able to organize our dirtbag indie rock styles and make this record was unprecedented. Having to watch Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job! Each night after recording was challenging too.
With Neil, timing was the issue as well. For many years I’ve been a gypsy solo sojourner, touring around the US for work, never in the same state or even the same city, crazy hard to locate, keep in touch with, etc. So the fact that we were able to align and make these supersweet tunes was a miracle as well. We’d been talking about doing it for ages!
Mint 400: Do you have any favorite or least favorite venues?
My favorite venue, interestingly enough, is in Portland, Oregon – a place that for a short time I called home. It’s called the Doug Fir Lounge. It’s attached to this rad boutique hotel called The Jupiter and it feels like a total fancypants apres-ski lodge/regal persons mountainside living room, constructed of deep mahogany wood logs and giant fireplaces, with the best sound I’ve ever ever heard in a venue ever ever, always filled from stage to fire exit to main entrance with hipsters who aren’t too cool to dance because in Portland hipsters are different! They’re like carefree 60’s hippies wearing tiny raw denim pants and giant glasses and riding fixed gear bikes.
Mint 400: Has there been anyone/anything you'd like to acknowledge that helped you while you
were doing the Ladybirds and Mergers & Acquisitions albums?
I’d like to thank Neil’s awesome wife Jamie for letting me stay over so late while recording M&A and for always being such a posi-sunbeam since the day I ever first met her. And Neil too, for dealing with my impossibly off key singing and for being magic enough to make it into more pitch appropriate tunery.
Mint 400: And finally, any final thoughts you’d like to throw in?
Industry take note!: We’re totally open to and stoked on the idea of music licensing opps for for M&A. One of our jams is called “I Must Confess” and it’s a lullabye straight out of the Moldy Peaches playbook, cepta we don’t sing about BMX bikes, and it would be effing IDEAL for any kind of GARDEN STATE/JUNO/PAPER HEART/LARS AND THE REAL GIRL/LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE soundtracking, hearmenow! In a fantasy dreamscape it would be great for Teen Mom 2 or 16 & Pregnant as well, just saying.
As always, check out our other news and info on other new releases at www.mint400records.com. Also follow at www.twitter.com/mint400records and don't forget about the Mint 400 blog, message board and Facebook page. Please check out Mint 400 bands everywhere MP3's are sold.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Mint 400 Records Compilation Benefiting The Special Olympics Releasing April 12th.
Mint 400 Records is planning to release its first real compilation of all unreleased material by Mint 400 artists and friends this April 12th with proceeds benefiting The Special Olympics.
Mint 400 Records Comp Releasing April 12th.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRLog (Press Release) – Apr 05, 2011 – Mint 400 Records is planning to release its first real compilation of all unreleased material by Mint 400 artists and friends this April 12th. While the compilation album will provide fans with a diverse sample of some of the great Mint 400 Records bands, it will also serve a deep cause as a fundraiser for The Passaic County Elks Cerebral Palsy Center’s Special Olympic Team. Mint 400 Records founder Neil Sabatino has been close to this cause for over ten years along with his wife Jamie Sabatino, who has taken over the coaching position for the Cerebral Palsy Center's Special Olympics team. This will aid that cause and the school, which is a private institution with a budget that cannot cover all the costs for its extracurricular activities. Donations and sales for the record will be specifically going towards upgrading student equipment needed such as ramps for bowling and other needed things. It will also pay student participation fees required for The Special Olympics.
Mint 400 Records is planning on 95% of the money raised going directly to Special Olympics, specifically to the team at The Passaic County Elks Cerebral Palsy High School with the other 5% covering our minimal costs to put this compilation out. This compilation will be available at over 400 webstores world wide through IODA (www.iodalliance.com) the label’s digital distributor.
The track listing features many never before heard tracks from Mint 400 bands:
1. The One and Nine's – Tear’s Fall (Live track from their rehearsal studio).
2. The Ashes – My White Soul (A brand new song!).
3. Liar’s Club (Ryan Levasseur of The Minus Scale)- Sweet Virginia (First new material since 2009).
4. Fairmont - No Blood (cover of New England's ‘The Minus Scale’).
5. Hero Pattern – Misleader (an unreleased B-side from the legendary NJ band).
6. Ladybirds – Impairment Begins With the First Drink (written by Denver Dally of Intramurals and Justin Pierre of Motion City Soundtrack. Features Teeter Sperber and Neil Sabatino of Fairmont on vocals).
7. Bombs - Won't Be Seen (An acoustic B-Side…Recorded in one drunken take by Ryan Yoker. Expect a solo record from him soon on Mint 400 Records).
8. The Old Glory's – Paper Trail (Live track from their October 2010 performance at Spike Hill's, Brooklyn).
9. Depression State Troopers – Take My Hair (Demo Version, from their acclaimed album The Reason For the Fall).
10. The Multi-Purpose Solution - Careless Love Blues (from their 2002 EP).
11. Mergers & Acquisitions – Swallowed By the Tide (The first B-side from Teeter Sperber and Neil Sabatino’s side project).
12. Ted Dancin! – Dancin Shoes (The first ever studio track by Neil and Sam of Fairmont).
13. The Mai 68's – Simultaneous Berlin (Live recording from a song off their forthcoming album).
14. Shane V (The Ashes and Old Glorys) – What Could We Say (Song selected from his unreleased solo material. Expect a solo full length soon).
As always, check out news and info on the Mint 400 Compilation and other new releases at www.mint400records.com. Also follow at www.twitter.com/mint400records and don't forget about the Mint 400 blog, message board and Facebook page. Please check out Mint 400 bands everywhere MP3's are sold.