Interview: Mini Mansions are a special unit
Los Angeles-based indie-pop trio, Mini Mansions, led by Queens of the Stone Age bassist Michael Shuman, are in Australia supporting Tame Impala and playing their own headline show in Sydney. Georgia Mckay chats to Michael about the new record and the tour:
You’ve been on the road for the past year or so touring your new album, The Great Pretenders. What have been some of the highlights? Do you have a particular preference for playing festival stages or smaller club gigs?
We like it all. I think that’s what keeps things fresh out on the road. Just when you’re tired of festival season, you get to go back to playing more intimate sweaty venues filled with your fans. And when you get sick of small venues and the same ol’ routine, you get to hang out and watch your friends’ bands and bands you love at these really beautiful festivals. And that’s the highlight of the year… Getting to tour with and watch amazing bands every night, and being part of something special.
How has the rigorous touring schedule affected the dynamic of the band?
I think being on the road for a year straight has put into perspective what we want to be doing as a band and what works for us as human beings and friends. We’ll get burnt out on each other from time to time, but in the end we realize we’ve made a special unit who make songs we all love, and that nothing will get in the way of that.
Are there any songs on the record that you particularly enjoy playing live?
Tour to tour it will change for me. Especially cause we try to add a new song we don’t play often to our reportoire. That keeps it exciting. For example, it used to be Mirror Mountain for me. Now it’s Heart of Stone, for the exact opposite reasons.
Throughout Mini Mansion’s history, you’ve supported a range of bands, including the likes of Autolux, Royal Blood, My Morning Jacket and currently Tame Impala. Has that been a deliberate strategy to reach a wider audience?
When you’re just starting out as a band, that’s all you want to do. Get on great tours supporting great bands. That’s how you gain fans. But quickly that desire just turned into our M.O. It has become less of a strategy and more of an impossibility to turn down. I think we might be the best opening band in the world. And our friends and other bands keep asking us to tour with them! And it’s hard to say no to. Very good problem to have.
It would be remiss of me not to mention some major guests that appear on the album – Alex Turner and Brian Wilson. Will guest appearances be a recurring feature of future material?
We have no plans to keep that up. That was an isolated incident as far as we’re concerned. But never say never.
Your last self-titled EP has been described as a ‘slow burn’, whereas The Great Pretenders is more of an ‘upbeat explosion’. How do you think your style will continue to evolve – are you already working on new material?
I think our new material will get more and more explosive. Although I wouldn’t say we are throwing out the possibilities of some romantic ballads to slow-dance to. We actually are already deep into writing for it.
QOTSA were progenitors of Palm Springs Desert Rock, whereas Mini Mansions is decidedly more ‘Sunny Cali’. How does the geography of your surroundings affect the way you make music? You’ve suggested that the band might consider re-locating to UK. Do you think this, in turn, would influence the style of music you make?
I think it has a huge affect on how you write. I am definitely inspired by my surroundings and if we wrote in the UK it would be safe to say that our music might be a little more bleak. I’ve written songs all over the world… in shitty venues, airplanes, hotel rooms, beaches… And they all have their own flavor based upon where they were conceived.
Mini Mansions play this Thursday 12 November at Goodgod in Sydney. Tickets here. They are also supporting Tame Impala around the country. Dates below. After that they hit the UK and Europe. Dates on their Facebook.
Sydney – Wednesday 11th November – Sydney Opera House Forecourt
Perth – Saturday 14th November – Belvoir Amphitheatre
Adelaide – Wednesday 18th November – Thebarton Theatre
Brisbane – Saturday 21st November – Riverstage
Interview by Georgia Mckay.