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The Jasmine Minks are by no means a fickle footnote in the story of eighties pop-culture. Yes, they were, and continued to be a square peg in a round hole within the spectrum of music, they are undoubtedly the catalytic sound of Brit-pop.
The Jasmine Minks prided themselves on whom they are, what they stand for, a case of ideals versus art. Whilst born in Aberdeen, they launched themselves proper in London in 1983, becoming the very first band signed to Alan McGee’s legendary Creation Records. Their first single, “Think!” is a triumph of power-pop and post-punk, setting The Jasmine Minks on a steady course for success.
Riding on the crest of their continuing wave of excellence, members Jimmy Shepherd and Wattie Duncan took time out to talk collectively for The Jasmine Minks about their past, their present releases and the future of this influential outfit.
Thank you very much for taking time out to inform the Big Takeover audience about the importance of The Jasmine Minks.
Your first single, the cracking “Think!” is an inspired piece of work, a cross between sixties Who and late seventies punk, what was the greatest influence on the formation and original sound of The Jasmine Minks?
The Jasmine Minks: We were offshoots of the post-punk and Postcard records (at the time The Sound Of Young Scotland) – but we were better! “Think!” is about growing and cutting the apron strings.
Was there a thriving music scene in Aberdeen (Scotland) back in the day?
The Jasmine Minks: Early incarnations of The Shamen (Alone Again Or), Toxik Ephex and APB (Aberdeen post-punk funksters who went on to support James Brown in NYC) were peers of ours. If we stayed in Aberdeen we would have probably signed to Oily Records but we had already moved to London, met McGee and the rest, as they say, is rock n roll history.
When The Jasmine Minks started, what cover songs if any did you include In your set?
The Jasmine Minks: Love’s “7 and 7 Is”, Greenfuz, “In The Past”, Anglo Girl Desire, Levitation were among the favourites. We still like to put a cover in our set and our current cover is “And How I Learned To Love The Bomb “in honour of the, unfortunately not very well Dan Treacy.
The Jasmine Minks are renowned for being one of the first bands signed to Creation records, but I think there is a greater legacy, the translation of working class Scottish guys singing about the issues of the time, what do you feel the legacy up to this point in time is?
The Jasmine Minks: We’re not one for spouting our politics but we have cut with a knife in the past when we feel the need because people and communities matter, from miners strike in the 80’s to the hunger strikes in N Ireland and nuclear disarmament, civil disobedience when needed. Wattie Mink says that he would piss on Margaret Thatcher’s grave if he got the chance still. The BBC are currently showing a glowing documentary about her and the hatred for her economic policies devastated mining communities and made buying a house a banker’s dream (if you were working class you couldn’t afford a bag of chips if you had a mortgage). Our latest single, “Step By Step” implores you to ‘never follow soap-box jokers’.
Your sound was well ahead of its time, did you draw comparisons between later bands such as The Stone Roses, Manic Street Preachers for example?
The Jasmine Minks: The Stone Roses pretty much sounded like Another Age but with a groovier beat. The Manic Street Preachers were hugely influenced by us. They used to tell us that they got their name from our “1234567 All Good Preachers Go To Heaven” and that they used to cover “Where The Traffic Goes”.
Do you feel that somehow The Jasmine Minks were hugely influential in the rise of the nineties Brit-pop movement?
The Jasmine Minks: I’m sure we were – but we weren’t cool enough to mention.
Another Age is still an unquestionable masterpiece of eighties music, did you know at the time you were on to something special?
The Jasmine Minks: Absolutely – we believe in the songs then, we believe in them now. Good songs are timeless.
Is there plans to re-release the rest of your Creation albums such as Scratch The Surface? in retrospect they are great recordings.
The Jasmine Minks: Not currently but Joe Foster and Alan McGee have been instrumental in helping us gain ownership of our Creation back catalogue. We have released nearly every Creation recording we ever did through Joe’s Rev-Ola records and through Cherry Red Records.
Was it frustrating not being able to capture the live intensity of the band in the studio on later albums?
The Jasmine Minks: Studios by their nature are used as toys to create music to listen to at home so we didn’t really want to produce our incendiary sound in case we made people’s houses explode! We are a caring bunch after all…
Back in the day did The Jasmine Minks ever consider a live album?
The Jasmine Minks: There are plenty of bootlegs around – one particularly good one is when we played with Velvet Underground’s Mo Tucker at a low key gig she did in Leeds. And we did appear on Alive At The Living Room. But we never really thought about it at the time. It would have been a good idea – and maybe shown some of the more passionate moments we had which didn’t appear in the sterile studio sounds.
Is there any music or bands today in particular that you can connect with or even enjoy?
The Jasmine Minks: We love bands like Burning Ferns on our good friend, Ray Collins’ Country Mile record label in Wales and *Robert Fosrster’s son’s band The Goon Sax.
The latest single “Step By Step” is an excellent track, apart from the vocals maturing slightly, the formula is still in place, has The Jasmine Minks become a well oiled machine and can turn out quality material with little effort, or is it a struggle?
The Jasmine Minks: If we have the inclination we can record excellent material really quickly – geography is our biggest obstacle because we like to record in proximity to each other and not so much across the internet.
Did you ever think you would see The Jasmine Minks on vinyl again?
The Jasmine Minks: The Oh aye – and more to come!
Is there a new Jasmine Minks album on the horizon?
The Jasmine Minks: A new album is being recorded as we speak – we plan to release it in 2020.
Finally, is it true you came to the attention of the media, in particular NME because you guys played 8 gigs in one day?
The Jasmine Minks: We did pinch an idea for promoting our second single, “Where The Traffic Goes”, from a busking tour Violent Femmes (a group we supported) did one day to promote their new single. We had a day of playing acoustic songs around various streets and pubs in London, ending the acoustic session in the Rough Trade shop before playing a full electric concert in the evening at McGee’s Living Room.
Thank you for taking the time out to talk to us, I wish you all the success in the future and look forward to more new music
Step By Step Single
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