The Jasmine Minks
by Andrew McDiarmid
Oasis, Primal Scream, the Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, Super Furry Animals, Ride, the House of Love, Teenage Fanclub: chances are you own a record by at least one of these bands. What do they all have in common? They were all signed to Creation Records. Fans of guitar-driven indie will know the label well, but perhaps less well known will be the very first band signed to the label, The Jasmine Minks.
Signing to Creation in 1984, the Aberdeen band released the mini-album, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 All the Good Preachers Go to Heaven, a mixture of post-punk and mid-sixties garage rock, in December of that year. They continued to release work throughout the decade, garnering critical acclaim in particular for 1988 album Another Age. When Creation Records boss Alan McGee wound the label down at the end of the nineties, he quickly followed with another vehicle for leftfield guitar music, the Poptones label; the home of the Cosmic Rough Riders, and perhaps most notably Scandinavian rockers, The Hives. The Jasmine Minks also made the move to Poptones, releasing Popartglory in 2001.
Having released an E.P. in 2010, the band have released a couple of digital singles since then. But they are back with a new offering that you can hold in your hand, the single Ten Thousand Tears, a shimmering, almost country, slice of Scottish guitar music, from which all the proceeds will go to Scottish Motor Neurone Disease charity, MND Scotland. The Moon caught up with the band’s guitarist Wattie Duncan to find out more.
How are you?
I'm good thanks — busy and good with it all which is fun! We're all enjoying being together and playing as a band again.
What is behind the single, why the support for MND Scotland?
Ten Thousand Tears has been released to raise money directly for Scottish MND as we have close links due to my brother Phil being diagnosed in November 2016 with the disease. He's focused on fund raising for them and directly challenged us on coming up with a way to do something positive from such terrible news, so we did the song for him. A real coincidence is that 30 years ago when we released Another Age we lost our brother in law Jim Lawrie to MND so it's all bizarrely came full circle — I hate the disease, it's cruel and we need to do what we can to help defeat it!
Phil cycled for Scotland in his hey day so it's a real bummer seeing this impact him but he's inspirational and he really is my big brother who I love and idolise — he got me into playing guitar coming into the house with a flying-V (white) which I picked up as a kid and got going with — it was a shite guitar (he was into free and bad company) but something new and amazing to me, so I saved my money and got a strat which I still play today along with the trusty Rickenbacker.
The sound of the Jasmine Minks has evolved quite a bit over the years – from pulsing 13th Floor Elevator style tracks, to jangly Byrds inspired pop, and on to the more industrial sounds of the Popartglory album. What influenced the style of this track?
I think Ten Thousand Tears and also I Can't Hide (B-side) are great songs that have just evolved organically really. Jim and Iain Slater have worked well together to produce them as well as they have. Iain is great, he's front of house for Pete Doherty, Baby Shambles and the Libertines currently, and has worked with big stadium acts in the past too. We also have close ties, being from the north of Scotland, to Iain and his band APB so it's great working together. We trust Iain so know he's quality, along with Jim naturally — they just work great together.
Our sound can never be categorised which is good, and that diversity of influence helps us as a band to be the best we can be. Popartglory was a good example, McGee and Bobby Gillespie said at the time they thought it was brilliant ‘part Primals but pure Jasmines’ — ha ha!
How do you work as a band, are you all in Aberdeen?
We work as a band in various ways as we are all over Britain, either London or Scotland, but the internet is a wonderful thing and we get together to rehearse (and have a catch up) and use recording studious as and when we need to. We all have eight- or sixteen-track recorders to facilitate music between ourselves so we get it going good through various means and approaches really!
Politician Tommy Sheridan featured on one of your tracks, would you consider another political collaboration?
Would I work with another politician? Fuck no! Don't get me wrong, Tommy was great, and I believe the real deal, and it was right at the time for that track (Daddy Dog) — but these days I see no inspirational politicians anywhere. I don't believe in any of them unfortunately — was it Strummer who said if you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything? I wonder what Joe would have made of things today!
What’s next for the band?
Next for us as a band are some gigs with BMX Bandits and also The Jazz Butcher Quartet with gigs around England (York, Leeds and Manchester) and also we play Glasgow and Aberdeen in October. We are just working on a new release for later in the year called Step by Step, which is sounding very good, so while we are enjoying it we will keep doing it!