As far as origin stories go, Mint—the Des Moines three-piece consisting of guitarist Bradford Johnson, drummer Christian Peters and bassist Brandon Clark—isn't anything new.
“Christian and I were playing in a church together,” Johnson explained. “We always had really good musical chemistry together, and it had been a couple of years since I had done anything really musically original, so we started talking. (Eventually) we put an ad up on Craigslist and got hit up by a few bassists. Then Brandon answered one day, and that was it.”
After a short, reflective pause, Clark adds, “We need a better story.”
But if the “humble beginnings” portion is straight out of Central Casting, the next phase makes up for it.
“We had only been a band for two weeks before we got our first show,” Johnson recalled. “And our first show was opening for Johnny Lang at Seven Flags. So there's 2,000 people there, and we had no idea what we were going to do. So we just did our five originals and then a bunch of blues covers. We all had lyrics and chords stuck up by the monitors, because we were still learning everything.”
“Then our very next show was with Buddy Guy at Seven Flags,” he continued. “So we kind of started as a bluesy pop band.”
Originally a four-piece outfit, Mint's keyboardist bowed out early on, reducing them to a more traditional three-piece. It's been a learning process for all three of them, but one that they feel has pushed them to be better.
“I came from a band that had seven members,” Clark said. “So coming to a three piece really stretched me as a musician.”
“You feel naked,” Johnson added. “It takes a lot more creativity, I think, figuring out how to be simplistic, but not empty.”
Rest assured, nothing about Mint's sound is empty. Exactly a year ago today I reviewed their first album, calling it “soulful yet unashamed of its pop underpinnings.” Since then, Mint has done nothing but hone and continue their upward trajectory.
“The theme of the second album is growth,” said Clark, referring to the band's current project. “The sound is more mature.”
“I feel really confident with these songs because I feel like we've really settled into who we are as a three-piece,” Johnson continued. “We understand exactly what we can do now.”
Originally appeared in Cityview January 29, 2014