Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Starlight Mints cover the basics

Illustration for article titled Starlight Mints cover the basics

It’s tough enough already for The Starlight Mints to be perpetually known as the other indie-rock band from Oklahoma, but the act certainly hasn’t made emerging from The Flaming Lips’ considerable shadow any easier by constantly mutating their sound. What started as an eight-piece orchestral-pop outfit in 2000 became a four-member psychedelic-pop act shortly after the band’s first album. With their latest, Change Remains, the Mints (who play tonight at the Hi-Dive) continue their development, upping the reliance on technology that emerged on its predecessor, 2006’s Drowaton. Drummer and ersatz manager Andy Nunez took a break from the band and his day job managing a rock club in Norman, Okla., to help The A.V. Club make sense of the Mints’ long, strange trip.


The A.V. Club: Over your career, Starlight Mints changed rather radically. Was that evolution natural or deliberate?

Andy Nunez: We definitely went into this record with the intention of putting a little more electronics on it. We actually had a pretty long period of time between records to do it. I think it’s fun to write in those programs [ProTools and Reason], but sometimes they might get to be a little much. The problem is any sound you can think of is in there.

AVC: Does that lead you into some strange places while songwriting?

AN: There’s all these 30-second ProTools sessions laying around. There’s usually a big batch of those we try to turn into songs. It seems like we have millions of these throwaway songs. They’re good songs, but they don’t seem like they fit the band.

AVC: A lot of rock purists still turn their nose up at the idea of using software as part of the creative and performance processes. Why do you think that is?

AN: It’s funny you say that, because every time we play with other bands, we have two laptops on stage running MIDI controllers, loaded up with samples. I would think that everybody would come up and see what we were using and go, “Oh, yeah.” It’s amazing how many people will look at it and go, “Oh, I’ve never used that. What is that?” I thought that pretty much every CD in the world used Reason.


AVC: You and bassist Marian Love-Nunez have a 5-year-old daughter, Penny, who goes on tours with you. How difficult is that taking a toddler on an indie-level tour?

AN: It’s really isn’t that big of a deal. I remember talking to [Low’s] Alan Sparhawk and was like, “How do you guys tour with kids?” He goes, “You just do it. You don’t over-think it.” He was right, really. When [Penny] was about 2 and a half months, we started dragging her out on long trips with us. She’s been on every tour we’ve been on since she’s been alive. Somebody asked our sound guy about it recently in Florida, and he was like, “Oh, she’s just like another person in the van. You don’t really think about it.” I think a lot of people let having children make them think they have to change their life, especially if they live any alternative lifestyle, like we might.


AVC: The Disney Channel commissioned Starlight Mints to make music for Shorty McShorts' Shorts. Do you take different approach when you’re writing songs for cartoons?

AN: It’s funny, every time we get a job like that, at first we try to give them what we think they want. They always come back and go, “We wanted something that sounded more like your band. That’s why we called you guys in the first place.” We had a song a long time ago called “Popsicle” that got licensed a lot by MTV and movies and stuff. Every time we get hired, they want us to do a version of something like that, that goofy guy tripping on the stairs thing. I swear, MTV with every reality show they have, if someone trips, they hit a button and it plays that song. I guess somebody’s got to fill that niche.