The Stolen Minks

The Stolen Minks
While the Stolen Minks are often cited as being a "girl band,” one listen to their excellent Family Boycott full-length will eradicate any idea of the importance of gender from the listener’s head. A bouncing, rocking, fiery explosion of punk and rock’n’roll, Family Boycott was preceded by an equally awesome, less-heard EP, now re-released as a seven-inch by Montreal’s New Romance For Kids label. The band is currently crossing the country in support of both releases, bringing their ass-kicking brand of rock’n’roll all the way from Halifax to Victoria and back.

Were you able to make your tattoo parlour appointment?
Guitarist/vocalist Stephanie Johns: I was going to talk about tattoo stuff and my boyfriend was getting a tattoo so I was just like, "I’ll go talk to the guy.” But then my boyfriend was in pain so I decided to think about it more. I’m the only person I know who doesn’t have a tattoo. But I’m chicken!

What are you thinking about getting?
I was thinking about getting a skull on my chest. [Laughs] I wanted something scary. Because I’m not a very scary person, but I figured if I had a tattoo on my chest people would take me seriously. Or maybe they’d just be like, "Why does that girl wearing the pink sweater have a skull tattoo on her chest?” I was asking the guy what I could do to make it hurt less, and he told me that percocet is really the only thing because they won’t tattoo anyone who’s visibly drunk. And he said he wasn’t supposed to tell me this.

So now you’re prepared.
I just need to get my hands on some percocet!

That can’t be too hard.
My dad had to take some recently because he got into a bicycle accident. He said it’s a pretty good drug. I’ll see if he saved any. [Laughs]

At least you’ve got a family hook-up. So, in non-tattoo-and-drug related questions, you’ve been number one on the !Earshot charts not once, but two times.
It was kind of crazy. The second time was really just one of those Christmas flukes where not too many stations filed. I don’t tell people that.

You just made the big mistake of mentioning it in an interview.
Don’t mention it! [Laughs] I’m the kind of person who’s pretty self-deprecating so this is actually an easy way to do it because it’s actually true. But the first time it was one hundred percent because people liked it and we were really happy. I was totally shocked because I was checking the chart kind of obsessively because I wanted to see if we were in the top ten. But I didn’t even see it because it didn’t even occur to me to look into the top three. I was just like, "Oh man, eight and lower, we’re not on it.” Rachelle [Goguen, keyboardist and vocalist] was at a car dealership, and she checked the chart while the guy was bringing her car around from being fixed. She told the sales manager, but then she had to go into this long explanation of what !Earshot is, that she’s in a band, that we have an album…

Did one of you puke, too?
We might have puked because we had a lot of weird alcohol that night in celebration. Someone must have puked. Or come close. In our old practices we used to drink those big magnums of pink champagne that are, like, six dollars. Because A, it was festive, and B, it was cheap. We stopped that habit because we got so sick of it and it’s actually really bad for your stomach. We stopped drinking those but we brought them out again for that occasion. It was not a good choice, but it certainly lightened the mood. We were extra happy.

It sounds like a good time to go back and re-visit an old friend.

Do you have a drink of choice for practice now that isn’t so gut-rot-y?
No. Because Tina and I made our own beer for the first time, so we’re bringing a lot of homemade beer to practice. And it’s, you know… weird. It’s kind of like a beer smoothie. I would not serve it to my friends, but I would drink it myself with no qualms.

Can you describe how it ends up so smoothie-esque?
Because we didn’t make it correctly. There’s supposed to be some extra fermentation or filtration process, and we only did one because we used some hippie recipe that was like, "All you need is a bucket!” [Laughs] No you don’t! You need an extra thing! So it has hops floating in it. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen hops, but they’re just green flakes. They look like fish food. It definitely doesn’t sound appealing, but after you have a few glasses it doesn’t become an issue.

Does it taste good at all?
It tastes pretty good. It tastes like a beer beverage. It doesn’t taste like a good beer, but maybe like some weird, strong English beer.

You guys should sell it at shows.
That would go over really well. Especially at the all ages shows!

You would be the most popular band at the show.
Like, "Don’t stand outside the liquor store, just come to a Stolen Minks shows!”

Exactly! Now, this goes back a little bit to that !Earshot thing, but I was talking to Jason from New Romance over a year ago and he was excitedly telling me about how he was talking to you guys. "There’s this band, they’ve got their record on the !Earshot charts, they’re awesome!” It struck me that you guys were an interesting choice for a label that had done a lot more hardcore and screamo stuff. I was curious what drew you to that label?
We had an EP we put our ourselves, and we were going to do it ourselves again, but we started thinking it would be nice to have someone to help out with press and distribution and whatnot. Jason actually emailed us out of the blue, just saying "I really like your EP, it sounds good!” He was just sending a nice email, saying, "You guys should be on Sympathy For the Record Industry” or something. And we were like, "Yeah, that’d be great! But for the moment we’re just trying to find distribution.” He said he would love to be involved. We actually had about two weeks before we went on tour. The record was done, and I think possibly pressed, but we just got it together really quickly. We met them on a tour last summer and they were really nice, which was great because we had never dealt with anyone from any record label before. We didn’t know what to expect, but they’re nice guys and they wanted to help us, which is about it for requirements. I’m really glad that we’re with them. They have Brian Seeger, too, so I think it’s Jason’s goal to have a diverse roster.

And they have distribution in Europe, too, right?
Yeah, we got to see a Japanese review of our CD. Plus I could tell my dad that you could potentially buy our CD in Japan. There are probably three copies, but they’re there.

Was the Japanese review positive?
It’s hard to say. I put it through Google Translate. I think it was positive, but there were some things that didn’t make sense at all. Google Translate is not a reliable source. I think I have to do a little more research to try to find out what they’re saying.

Now they’re re-releasing your EP, and I was wondering why do it, and specifically on vinyl?
It was Jason’s idea, and we thought it was awesome. We wanted to have a seven-inch, but we weren’t sure if we were going to get to record before the tour. When he mentioned it, we were really excited. The EP is really short, and we maybe sent it to 30 radio stations in Canada, but we got a good response. We very obviously made them ourselves — they were burned CDs with a stencil on the front. I still really love those songs. People might like it, especially on vinyl. I think it will suit the sound.

Are you excited to have your own proper vinyl release?
Totally. I’ve always wanted one. I bought a lot of seven-inches when I was in high school. I always felt like it was something that was too complicated or too expensive and now that we get to I’m totally excited.

In the song "Boys on Floor” from that EP, you have that oft-quoted lyrics of "Girls on the stage / Boys on the floor.” I’m curious as to how much importance you feel you place as band on the sex of the members, and how much you feel other people do.
I guess it was important to us, because we’re friends and we thought it would be cool to be in a band together. It’s a totally different dynamic with girls. Rachelle and Tiina [Johns, bassist and vocalist] had never played in a band before. Rachelle had never played rock music. She played classical stuff on the piano and wanted to learn how to play that style. Tiina didn’t play that much at all. I didn’t want to go through the learning steps, having a guy who had been through it all before. I had built it up in my mind like, "If we’re all on the same page, it will be fun. We can be honest with each other without being scared.” It definitely made a world of difference with our first practices and shows. Now it doesn’t matter because we’ve been playing together for a while now and we’re a lot more confident and it doesn’t really matter. I think it still does from an audience perspective. We were a little bit of an anomaly when we started, even in Halifax. There were no all-girl bands here. Or many girls that played in bands. It’s a totally different scene now, and it’s not as big of a deal anymore. Maybe there are some people that don’t listen to a ton of music or go see a ton of live music, and they’re shocked when they see four girls playing, but those are just people who don’t go out a whole lot. Older people are really surprised. I’m in a band with three other guys, and I feel like I get a little more special treatment in that band that I do with the Stolen Minks. It could be because I play hardcore music with them, so maybe it’s the genre, too.

You guys have a new video for… which song?
"Stop Talking.”

Can you tell me about it?
It was animated by Ben Jeddrie, who made the video for "Boys on the Floor,” too. It’s a little more intense. It’s pretty funny. Unlike "Boys on the Floor,” where there isn’t too much to go on lyrically, this has a bit of a narrative. It’s from the girl’s perspective, talking to a guy and saying, "Listen, I’m not going to be your wife or your girlfriend forever. This is a one-time thing.” [Laughs] Which is not something we’re super well-versed in, but I think that Rachelle just got this idea that she felt hadn’t been explored in a ton of songs she had heard. So the video has all these female characters trying to get away from male characters that are trying to be their "steady” or whatever. And then they’re coming to a Stolen Minks show, and we’re playing and doing funny things, and then we start destroying our instruments, then the stage, then we get into a car and start destroying the world. Drawing moustaches on Mount Rushmore, giving Shakespeare a wedgie, and then we blow up the world. It’s action-packed!

Is the guy who did it a friend of yours?
Yeah, he is. He works with Tiina and Rachelle at the comic book store here called Strange Adventures. He actually made the "Boys on the Floor” video for Tina for her birthday, and we were like, "Let’s try to get MuchMusic to play it!” And then they did, which was pretty exciting.

Have they played it much?
Well, yeah. We asked for the tracking, and I figured they played it five or six times. But they had it for a month, and in that month, they played it over a hundred times. I don’t know when they were playing it. I think they were playing it on MuchLoud. They ended up having to send it back because the audio was too quiet, which probably really aggravated all the metal heads when it got played a hundred times. A hundred times!

Do you have high hopes for this new video?
I have the same hopes, especially with our tour coming up. I just really want my brother to turn on the TV and see it. I think that would the ultimate. Because he would think I was the biggest rock star in the world.

With the tour, which is fairly lengthy, what are you the most excited about?
I’ve never been out west. I was born and raised in Halifax, and I’ve never been further west than Ontario. I’m really excited to see Vancouver and see the Rockies and see the prairies. I think it’s going to be really good to travel. And on our small tour last summer, my face hurt every night from laughing so much. I literally had cramps in my face. We were in a car all day making our own fun. I’m looking forward to having that much fun again.