Seminal emo band Mineral carved out a sonic niche in the late 1990s by playing off the soft-then-loud dynamics of the era, but with a clear emphasis on melodic vocals. The group released only two albums — The Power of Failing (1997) and EndSerenading (1998) — but they are considered massively influential in the emo-rock genre, leaving sonic traces that lead to the likes of Blink 182 and Jimmy Eat World.
But the band split while making its second album, depriving a generation of emo fans from seeing Mineral live. Even so, frontman Chris Simpson believes it was for the best.
"In a way, it happened perfectly," he says. "You look at bands that stayed together longer, and four or five records in, they don't sound anything like the first record they made, and their fan base is like, 'I don't know about this new stuff.' That probably would have happened with Mineral too. But the cool thing about how it did happen is that Mineral and the sound is sort of frozen in a time capsule."
Mineral reunited for a brief run of shows in 2014, setting the stage for a flurry of activity. The band is kicking off its 25th-anniversary tour at the Ground this Wednesday, January 9, marking the first time the band has played in Miami. The group also recently completed a forthcoming book, One Day When We Are Young: Mineral at 25, to commemorate the quarter-century landmark. It includes an oral history of the band, a ten-inch record with two new songs — Mineral's first in 20 years — never-before-seen photos, and interviews with members of luminary bands Jimmy Eat World and Get Up Kids, among others.
Getting back in the studio after so long felt natural despite the grounding realities of adulthood, Simpson says: "We fell back into our roles in terms of our musical chemistry, but we had to reimagine how we work. Back in the original era, we had nothing to do but sit around and play music. We often lived together, so we were constantly working on music. Now that we all have busy lives, we get in the practice space once a week, twice at most. We realized early on that we weren't able to work stuff out in a room like we used to when we were younger."
In a truly 21st-century effort, the band members sent one another demos made in GarageBand in the months leading up to the studio session and knocked out two songs — "Aurora" and "Your Body Is the World" — in a matter of hours.
Working on the book, songs, and tour have offered Simpson an opportunity to reflect on why the band broke up in the first place.
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"Part of it was wanting to be home more, but part of it, for me, was my own naiveté or arrogance," he says. "Mineral had been pretty easy: We just started doing it, and people liked it. At the time, I thought I could start another band and do the same thing; I really wanted to explore different types of music. I could already see Mineral had a certain kind of sound, and I felt like I couldn't bring certain songs to the band and make it a Mineral song. It was a host of things, but it boils down to being young and not understanding how special the opportunities were and how special people's connection with the music was."
Mineral has scheduled tours in Japan, Europe, and South America this spring, but Simpson says fans shouldn't expect a full-length album anytime soon; he doesn't plan for the band to become a full-time commitment again, though he doesn't rule it out. At this point, he's just excited to play for fans who never got a chance to see Mineral live in its heyday — and for the ones who've waited two decades to see the band again.
"That's what this is all about," he says. "I love that we get to play for people who established this relationship with the songs and the records, fully expecting to never see us live."
Mineral. With Tancred and Pohgoh. 8 p.m. Wednesday, January 9, at the Ground, 34 NE 11th St., Miami; 305-375-0001. Tickets cost $20 to $25 via thegroundmiami.com.