Vancouver's Tough Age Sign with Mint Records, Discuss Debut Album

Vancouver's Tough Age Sign with Mint Records, Discuss Debut Album
Following releases from acts like Jay Arner, Renny Wilson and Pick a Piper this year, Mint Records continues to rope in new acts. The latest band to join the long-running imprint is psych-tinged Vancouver-based garage combo Tough Age.

"I think we're a great fit, because right now Mint is a label that is taking chances, and it's great to see them doing that; obviously I appreciate it because we're the biggest chance yet," frontman Jarrett K. tells Exclaim! in an exclusive interview.

The band was formed out of the ashes of the groups Korean Gut and Apollo Ghosts, and played their first show in January of this year. They aim to release their debut album via Mint in late 2013.

"The LP is completely finished and in the process of getting pressed. It's self-titled — I feel weird naming a debut record, I don't know why? I guess I blame the Ramones — and if all goes to plan it should be out in November."

He goes on to explain that the Mint deal was both a surprise and an entirely organic arrangement. "I've known Shena [Yoshida] from Mint for quite a while, so it wasn't like some unapproachable fortress of a label, or at least if it was it was one containing people whom I've watched Blue Velvet with in their living room."

Ultimately, it was their friend and now labelmate Jay Arner who got the ball rolling.

"We recorded the album with our friend Jay Arner, whose record just came out on Mint. Jay was pretty instrumental in getting us in touch with Mint, and with the record in general — he recorded it, mixed it, took our press photo [above] and let me store stuff in his house for a month. He's great. I've worked with Jay in the past, and he's a pretty laid-back guy as far as feedback goes, but he seemed really psyched on what we were doing and very into the recordings, and with his excitement over what we were doing together, I guess it was only natural it came up around Shena and Randy [Iwata] at Mint."

Then music festival season started. Jarrett initially ran into Shena at Music Waste, where his new band and the album they were working on came up casually. He sent her some tracks, and the label wanted to have a meeting. The next time they'd all be available for a sit-down chat would be Calgary's Sled Island, which proved disastrous due to the flood that ravaged the city and ultimately saw the festival get cancelled.

"We were supposed to all meet up during Sled Island, but that didn't work out so well obviously… Shena and I were trying to find an open bar to talk in as they quite literally flipped their 'open' signs to closed in our faces. I think Randy got caught at a Tim Horton's by the airport? It was insane. So we met up for lunch when we all got back from the flood, and that was about it."

With a background in Vancouver's DIY scene, the jump to a larger label might raise questions for some. In the case of Tough Age working with Mint, however, Jarrett explains that it's all about the company's ethics.

"You can work with a bigger label and keep your ideals just as easily as you can be DIY and still act like a piece of shit. The thing that appealed to me about Mint is that they really aren't any different than anyone running a record label out of their basement, they've just been doing it longer, they've had some successes, and they know how to play the game.

"Mint have been incredibly receptive to my input, they're not telling us what to do in any way. We're still booking our own tours, or Ketamines are, we're doing our own art, I'm paying the graphic designers, we're doing lacquers with the guy I like to use, all that. The only reason you would have any hesitancy is that you have some idea of what your 'image' is, and image is a realm strictly for assholes."

As for what they hope to accomplish with this higher-profile label, Jarrett says the band's goals remain modest.

"What I hope to accomplish is that people will dig the record, and we can go on tour and play for them without driving ourselves into total poverty and working double shifts for three months afterwards to make up for it. Mint are supportive and they're great at what they do, so they can get the record out there and make it so maybe people will want to see us."

In addition to the new LP, Tough Age have plans to release a 7-inch EP on Mammoth Cave Recording Co. in 2014. Stay tuned for more information on all of their releases as they become available.

Tour dates:

8/22 Hamilton, ON - This Ain't Hollywood *
8/23 Toronto, ON - TBA *
8/24 Windsor, ON - Phog Lounge *
8/25 St. Catharines, ON - Niagara Artists Center *
8/27 London, ON - Call the Office *
8/28 Guelph, ON - Van Gogh's Ear *
8/29 Kingston, ON - The Artel *
8/30 Ottawa, ON Gabba Hey! *
8/31 Montreal, QC - TBA *
9/1 Kitchener, ON - Uncross Your Arms Festival *

* with the Ketamines