Minmae: Interview
“Modern music is pretty fucking boring.”

Portland-based Minmae has been working the music scene for ten years. One could call it a band, a concept, or even just the title to represent Sean Brooks' creative musicality. He is the creator of Minmae and the only one who's been doing it all ten years.

Beyond the muddy, dark cataclysms of sound, the unimpressive voice of Brooks singing sneeringly of ennui, and beyond songs most successful when they dissolve into structured anarchy pushing through the Oedipal verse-chorus-verse machine is the intellect of someone who is actually trying to infiltrate our minds with the virus of thought.

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THE MUNDANE CAN INSPIRE YOU.

“I'm running errands, so right now I'm getting juice at Trader Joe's. I got some orange juice and carrot juice, and I'm going to take that to work to drink it. Maybe I should get something to eat. I have this routine when I'm home and that involves getting a triple Americano, and then I go to Trader Joe's.”

He is back home in Portland. We're having this conversation over the phone, having failed at a coherent interview several weeks back at the Soapbox Laundro-Lounge, while he and his bandmates piled onto a couch in the basement area. The couch was perched way up like some postmodern bunk bed, and we took swigs of draft beer for an hour attempting to get deep and instead just got drunk.

I ask, in reference to his song "Your Band Controls the Weather," whether his songwriting is in fact informed by the weather.

“I'm probably more interested in mundane things than romanticized things. I'd rather talk about real things than less-than-real things. The weather informs my songwriting as much as what I had to eat that day. Everything informs my songwriting. It's not like my songwriting is some kind of solipsistic entity, like it's living in some vacuum. When I said, ‘your band controls the weather,' I was referring to a radio band, a wave frequency. But I knew people would misconstrue that.

“It was kind of a mind bomb. Just plant a mind bomb and let it blow up…”

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THOUGHTS ARE VIRAL.

“…That's what part of the song is about. Because you already know what's socially acceptable and isn't — everybody is listening whether they want to say they are — and so plant these sorts of memetic devises. Richard Dawkins talks about how ideas are viruses. They get inside and they self-replicate and so hence the mind bomb, you know? It's planted and then it has a gestation period inside. Maybe you don't know that you've been infected, but then you start showing symptoms.”

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I AIN'T DREAMING THE AMERICAN DREAM.

“Modern music is pretty fucking boring. It doesn't really stress being a good songwriter. There are great songwriters, tons of them, but the ones you hear in general have a pretty small window for what they can write about: that esoteric and vague kind of like — song lyrics that start with she. It's just male-dominated quasi-misogynist crap. The kind of writing that's judgmental and observational. The writer never takes a place in it as a real part of it — they're just perched on a mountain looking down on everything.

“The frustrating thing for me is having people criticize me saying like you're going nowhere with your band, and I'm actually doing what I want to do, and if for other people my value is based on how much money I have or what title I have, they can go fucking screw themselves. I may be 35, but I have more energy than half the cocksuckers out there. They're going to be drinking beer on the lawn with their dogs and their kids going back to their job at the post office, so fuck them.

“There's a reason that I'm working as a cook in a restaurant. I've chosen a life for myself and that's doing music. Keeping with the Joneses is not that important. There are other things I could be doing, but I can't study evolutionary psychology and play in a touring band at the same time.”

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IF YOU SEE BOB DYLAN ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, KILL HIM.

“For every Bob Dylan, there were thousands and thousands of Bob Dylans you never heard about. Whether I'm successful or not doesn't change what I've done. I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm writing songs. I'm creating a body of work, and, I don't know, I just get tired of people trying to qualify what I'm doing. You see what I'm doing. It's right in front of you. Does it matter if there are ten people in the audience or 150? Does that change the quality? No.”

Photo: [Heidi Elise Wirz]

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