What is the definition of a real band? It’s simple: A group who can write, produce, sing and play their music without the help of studio magic. The majority of the time when I go to a concert the artist sings to pre-recorded tracks. When you go see Mint Condition perform in concert you get a true concert (the band playing live). Mint Condition is the true definition of a band. They bring a jazzy, R&B sound that has transcended through time. SayWhatNews spoke with Mint Condition about their music career, new label and their hot new album e-Life.
SayWhatNews: SayWhatNews is honored to sit down and speak with one of the greatest bands of the 20th century Mint Condition. Tell us who is Mint Condition?
Mint Condition: Mint Condition is a self-contained band of musicians that write record and produce their own music. At present, we are promoting our second release “eLife” from our own Caged Bird label which currently includes a Top 5 UAC single “Nothing Left to Say!”
SayWhatNews: How and when did Mint Condition become to be?
Mint Condition: Mint came together in the early 90’s, at that time many of us had been playing for other singers and groups around town, we decided to band together to perform music that came natural to us. Within a year, we were signed by budding label called Perspective Records (Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis) after they saw us perform “Pretty Brown Eyes” at a First Avenue showcase in Minneapolis.
SayWhatNews: Mint Condition performed at many venues in the beginning, how hard was it to get your music heard?
Mint Condition: Actually, we only performed a handful of dates before we signed are first deal. And, that was by design because we felt we had something special in that we played all original music from the beginning. Further, it wasn’t too hard to get heard because at that time there were always showcases around town that were specific to live music and original bands.
SayWhatNews: What is the “Minneapolis Sound”?
Mint Condition: Growing up in St. Paul, I (Jeffrey) had always felt the Minneapolis Sound was among other things the “simulated horn sound” that came from a keyboard/synthesizer which, if I’m not mistaken I believe Prince started using in the late 70’s. I’m sure if you asked all five of us, you would get five different answers!
SayWhatNews: 1989, the great producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis came to the First Avenue Club and listened to you play. Did you know they were in the audience?
Mint Condition: Yes, our manager at the time James “Popeye” Greer mentioned to his best friend “Jellybean Johnson” that he had been working with a group and would like Jimmy and Terry to come down to get their thoughts on what he had. Needless to say, they offered us a deal that night! And, within a month we were in the studio working on our first project.
SayWhatNews: The Mint Condition logo is very unique. Who created it and does it have meaning?
Mint Condition: I can’t remember who came up with that one; I believe it was someone at either Perspective or A&M. I do remember mentioning to the company that we needed something unique and different that was representative of us being a working high-energy band.
SayWhatNews: 1991 you released one of the hottest ballads of all time “Breakin My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)”. This song has sustained time and is still a fan favorite. How does that make you feel knowing that your music is ever lasting?
Mint Condition: I believe one of the first things we discussed as we came together as a group was trying to achieve “longevity” within the business, and that starts with the music. Additionally, I think our style of using more organic instrumentation for most of our work helps when trying to produce songs that will stand the test of time; we take pride in that. Looking back, our songs have just about single handedly been responsible for our nearly two decades in the business.
SayWhatNews: Keri Lewis left the band and went on to work on other projects. Will you guys ever reunite?
Mint Condition: I (we) would never say never! Keri was a big part of what we did for many years, even though he seems to be in a good place right now we couldn’t rule out a reunion if the situation presented itself.
SayWhatNews: You guys are considered a rarity in today’s music because you are the true definition of a band, you can play your own instruments. What are your thoughts on how the music industry has gone computerized instead of using real instruments?
Mint Condition: Well, we’ve always embraced all types of both music and technology. One good thing about our situation is that it allows us to continue our craft and stay up on technology. However, some of the most innovative artists out today aren’t what some would call traditional “musicians” so, we like to say that we hold close all different types of bands, groups, artists, stylists and the like.
SayWhatNews: Mint Condition has collaborated with some of the biggest stars like Alicia Keys, Jill Scott and Janet Jackson. Is there anyone you guys would love to work with?
Mint Condition: Of course there are a slew of artists we would love to work with. Some of the names we often throw around include anyone from M’shell Ndegeocello to Coldplay and from Terence Blanchard to Kanye and everyone in between.
SayWhatNews: Tell us why you decided to create your own label (Cagebird Entertainment) and go independent?
Mint Condition: We believed at the time it was in our best interest to establish a company in order to gain more control over our careers. The industry as a whole along with the advent of technology seemed to be moving in the direction of “do it yourself” when it came to things such as recording, mixing, mastering, marketing and promoting music. We had always been pretty savvy when it came to technology and the latest information on how to become more efficient as artists, producers and musicians. In short, it was a “no brainer” for us to start our own company.
SayWhatNews: The first released album off your label “Livin the Luxury Brown” debuted at the #1 spot on Billboards Independent Albums chart. What went through your mind when you learned the news?
Mint Condition: That was to this date, one of the greatest, if not the greatest moment in a long career. I think we all went out and bought Billboard magazines after learning the news. However, we currently have a top 5 UAC single, “Nothing Left to Say” so, stay tuned…..
SayWhatNews: Your 6th album E-Life is the second release off your label, what a great accomplishment. What went through your mind once the album was completed?
Mint Condition: I can honestly say that we had mixed feelings, because we went into our first release from Caged Bird, “Livin the Luxury Brown” thinking this was it; we’re going to put everything on the line, as we had no plans for releasing a subsequent project. However, due to the success of “Luxury Brown” we had little time to put “eLife” together in order to capitalize on the momentum we garnered. So, our initial mindset upon completion of eLife was that we rushed it and that it was probably not our best effort but, with the recent success of both “Baby Boy, Baby Girl” and “Nothing Left to Say” some of us may revisit those earlier attitudes.
SayWhatNews: The band continues to cause a buzz in the music industry. The band won the 2008 Soul Tracks 2008 Readers Choice Awards for album of the year. What is next for Mint Condition?
Mint Condition: Well, I will say more music for one, we are in constant recording mode so, be looking out for a possible EP, soundtrack offerings, live show downloads and the like.
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