Tonight at the Highdive, approximately half of Norman, Oklahoma’s music scene (but the best half, clearly) will be on display as Starlight Mints and Evangelicals roll through with some psychedelic awesomeness. Doors open at 7 p.m., Evangelicals goes on at 8, and Starlight Mints start at 9. Cover is $10.
Mints drummer Andy Nunez (far right) took some time yesterday to chat with us from under the El in Chicago as they set up for their show at the Bottom Lounge. Their latest album, Change Remains, dropped electronically on Tuesday. He and his wife, keyboardist Marian Love Nunez, brought their daughter along for the tour, and he had plenty of other interesting anecdotes, just like those.
Smile Politely: You run a venue in Norman (called the Opolis). How long have you been doing that?
Andy Nunez: We’ve been open over there since like 2002.
SP: I don’t know anything about the scene in Norman. Is it a bar, or an all-ages club?
AN: It’s a real simple, 200-cap, all-ages venue. We’re just a beer bar, and we’ve traveled around for years, and there wasn’t a place for bands to really play. I mean, there were, like, sports bars, and really bad situations for bands, but there wasn’t a nice room that was dedicated to bands, so we decided to open that up, and it’s been nice.
SP: So, you’ve probably made enough to retire by now, I’m guessing?
AN: Nothing in this business is get-rich (laughs). We make enough to squeeze by. It’s a good combination, being in a band and having a little venue, because it gives us something to do when we’re not traveling around and stuff.
SP: Has it changed your outlook on the touring musician’s lifestyle to be on the other end of it?
AN: Yeah, we pretty much just do those two things, and raise our daughter. We’ve found a good combination there, not a get-rich combination, but a make-a-living combination. We’ve been blessed. A lot of good shows come through, we’ve met a lot of bands’ booking agents through the years that are kind to us and give us a lot of good shows.
SP: Norman’s a suburb of Oklahoma City, is that correct?
AN: Yeah, we’re just south of Oklahoma City, 20 minutes or so. And, it’s like the college town, a really typical college town, about 50,000 students. It’s pretty slow in the summer. This past week, The Helio Sequence played there, Jonathan Richman played there Monday, Viva Voce’s playing there [last night]. It’s been a lot of great shows.
SP: I’m glad that’s worked out for you. That’s a cool thing. Are most of the rest of the members of Starlight Mints full-time musicians, or do they have to work other jobs when you’re at home?
AN: Most of us just do the music thing, and then a couple of us do miscellaneous odd jobs here and there, but for the most part, we’re pretty full-time about it. We’ve had a little bit of success with licensing and what have you, so via that kind of stuff – a little TV, a little film here and there — we’re able to make enough to get by. How sustainable it is, I don’t know — we’ve been able to do it for 12, 13 years now.
SP: I guess that’s as long as most things last.
AN: Yeah, we’re just happy to still be around doing it and nobody hates each other or anything.
SP: That’s cool. Congratulations on the release of your new album, Change Remains. That must be exciting.
AN: Yeah, we’re real excited about it.
SP: How does an electronic release differ? Did everybody get on iTunes at the concert on Tuesday?
AN: Well, no, we just decided, we’re a little bit on the older side for a band, we have kids. Like, my daughter travels with us. So, we sat down with the record, and we looked at the calendar, and when we needed to be back for school and everything, and we decided to do a Hail Mary with it and get it out digitally and then hit the road, and then get it out physically on July 21. It’s coming out on CD and white vinyl on the 21st. That gives it a little time, I’m sure people will download it and give it to friends, and hopefully it will give it a little time to sink in before the physical CD is in stores.
SP: Which club are you playing tonight?
AN: It’s called the Bottom Lounge. Appears to be a nice, new room. Nice loud PA and all that stuff. We’re looking forward to coming to Champaign — we know it’s summertime, and an early show, it’s a little bit odd, but we’ll have a good time. It was between Chicago and St. Louis, and it seemed like a logical place to stop. I’m sure it’s best to stop there during the school year.
SP: We’ll do our best to get some people out. Your tourmates are from Norman also, right? Evangelicals?
AN: Yeah, I believe they toured with Headlights. We decided to take some Okies out with us, and keep it a little Oklahoma tour, so everyone knows each other. It can be a little weird sometimes touring with bands you don’t know. The last leg of this tour, which hasn’t been announced yet, we’re actually taking out a comedian, are you familiar with plesiasaur? It’s a musical comedy thing. He’s on Comedy Central, the Adult Swim scene. Looking forward to that, something a little different.
SP: I’ve just listened to “Zoomba” from your new album. How would you say that Change Remains is different from your previous albums?
AN: I think that it has a lot of the same melodies, and arrangements, and chord changes as the other records. Probably the only main difference is that we’ve used a lot of string players on our other records, and we replaced them with a lot of analog synthesizer sounds on this one.
If you want to hear the full interview, complete with awkward stuttering from yours truly and real, live noise from the El, here you go:
Andy Nunez Interview
Oh, and here’s the “Popsickle” video again, just because it’s awesome: