‘I’m always rooting for the underdog headliners that rarely walk out of their homemade caves’: An interview with Mini Mansions


Appearing on the John Peel stage this weekend at Glastonbury are Mini Mansions, a Los Angeles based trio with a distorted electro-pop sound – likened to psychedelic aspects of the Beatles with a modern twist. Childhood friends Michael Shuman (bassist for alternative and stoner rock band Queens of the Stone Age) and Zach Dawes founded the band in 2009 with Tyler Parkford, and have since produced two albums, the latest being The Great Pretenders released earlier in March this year.

After touring with Tame Impala and Royal Blood earlier in 2015 across both sides of the Atlantic, the band is now taking a trip to the UK, playing Glastonbury and their own sold out show in London this June.

You guys are playing on Sunday at Glastonbury Festival next weekend – with Foo Fighters cancelling due to Dave Grohl’s injury, who would be your dream replacement headliner and why?

Well, I’m always rooting for the underdog headliners that rarely walk out of their homemade caves. Bands like Cleaners from Venus or Tubeway Army (with Gary Numan of course), or Adam and the Ants, or Sparks getting up on that main stage would make me feel like I was on another planet. Imagine all 4 groups up there covering Sinatra’s I Did It My Way’.

Your latest album, The Great Pretenders, includes collaborations with the likes of Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys) and Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys). Who else could we see Mini Mansions collaborate with in the future?

Well, it was incredible for the stars to align just right for those two artists to hop on our peculiar cruise ship (lest we forget, we also snuck in Fred Schneider of the B52’s on a B-side called Cheap Leather). That said, we’ve never consciously written our songs with the intent to showcase a guest. Those few incidences just kind of fell into place perfectly, long after the songs were already recorded and produced.

That aside, if we play our cards right: I’d wanna have Brian May and Prince on back-to-back guitars, Jon Brion on piano – under my lead of course, Chris Squire and Thundercat on dueling uprights – under Zach’s lead of course.  Ziggy Modeliste… but only on kick drum. Jeff Lynne would compose the string section, Eno would throw down the noise, there’d be a full-scale choir ensemble with vocal arrangements by Grouper and, to top it all off, sung verses by Fiona Apple, Kim Gordan, Kate Bush, Gina X Performance, Bjork and maybe – just maybe – Stevie Nicks.

Your music videos, such as those for ‘Vertigo’ and ‘Monk’ feature some less than usual imagery – what influences your choice of visuals and plays a role in the video-making process?

A lot of it comes from strange films and artists that really shook us throughout our lives.  Monk was homage to Dare Wright’s “The Lonely Doll” series from the 60’s. Vertigo was a slow motion nod to Italian Giallo tycoons Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento, with a special wink to All the Colors of the Dark by Sergio Martino. It’s like looking through one specific windowpane every time but tainting the glass enough to make it our own.

Glastonbury began as a small festival in 1970 with 1,500 people attending. With 175,000 expected to attend next weekend, do you prefer large festival atmospheres or a more intimate setting for your shows?

For a smaller band like us, both festivals and intimate shows have their respective positive and negative sides, but at least the exit is a lot closer at a small venue when the negatives get out of hand. But personally, as both a spectator and performer, I’ll always prefer small headline shows hands down. It’s just the real deal.

Finally, alongside Glastonbury, which festivals or shows are you looking forward to this year?

Rock En Siene! Je t’aime Paris! And, of course, our own show in London on June 30th.

Mini Mansions play Glastonbury on the John Peel Stage at 12:40-1:20pm on Sunday 28th.



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Psychology student with a love of skiing, pop-punk, and music in general - find me at a gig, or in bed recovering from one!

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