Monday, December 3, 2007
Mink's New Model Rock Star
Stella Mozgawa has to go outside to talk. Her Mink bandmates are making too much noise for her to communicate by cell phone for her interview on the tour bus, “The Eagle,” which she thinks smacks of 70s metal. “It’s a bus you would imagine Iron Maiden to be touring in thirty years ago,” she says.
It’s not hard to imagine Mink on such a bus. They had barely been together a year before they impressed Gene Simmons enough to land a slot on last summer’s Rockfest with KISS. Then it was an opening slot with Perry Ferrell’s Satellite Party and Lollapalooza, before they even managed to release their first album. Their self-titled debut, complete with day-glo pink skull cover art and plenty of gritty attitude, was released in August, just a year and a half after the band came together.
It seems like Mink was ready made for the term “rock star,” but Mozgawa dismisses that as cliché. “If for some reason I feel like getting drunk and vomiting onstage it’s kind of passé unless it’s done in like a corny, post-modern way,” she says. And in any case, they’re not trying to capture someone else’s idea of what a rock star should be. “We just try to be ourselves,” she says. “We love bands from the 70s and 80s, and we love modern pop music and modern rock music. We don’t really try to pay homage to it.”
The band members weren’t even on the same continent at the beginning of 2006. Then, early in that year, singer Neal Carlson met guitarists Nick Maybury and David Lowy and bassist Grant Fitzpatrick through their shared Australian manager, and hit it off immediately. They had already planned a tour when Carlson followed them back to Australia in May, when Mozgawa stepped in for their departed drummer.
It didn’t take them long to amass a set list, either. Mink was given a mandate by producer Sylvia Massey to write thirty songs in one month, from which they would cull an album. Mozgawa says they wound up writing roughly forty. “It was ridiculous,” she says, “but it was fun, but it was this process of not really laboring too much over something, just having it have the essence of something and just get it out there and afterwards working on polishing that and producing it, as it were. Just having it really natural.”
The album is a mix of buzz saw rock and hooky guitar pop, inspiring frequent comparisons to the New York Dolls and Sex Pistols. “There’s some more produced tracks, there’s some poppier tracks and then some rock, punkier tracks or whatever,” says Mozgawa.
And while Mink isn’t quite as raw as their trailblazing predecessors, there is something elemental about them. That emerges from the band’s chemistry – Carlson is the chief songwriter, but everyone contributes – and their focus on keeping things loose. “It’s tongue-in-cheek, it’s fun,” says Mozgawa. “It’s nothing too dramatic or political. It’s just fun and celebratory.”