Interview – Minister

Today we spoke to Minister, who are based in London, UK! Their members consist of;

  • Dann Penaluna – Vocals
  • Erim Ahmet – Guitar
  • Jack Hicklin – Drums

*All questions answered by Dann

1. Hey, thanks for chatting with us! Straight up we want to ask about the hiatus, you were under a different name all the way back in 2014, what was the process of change in them 6 years?

Thank you for taking the time to interview us, it means a lot! So when we first started we went under the name ‘The Ivy League Murder Scene’. A lot of people would hear the name and think we were a tech metal band and put us on weird line ups, so just before our hiatus we did change our name and we released ‘The Basements EP’ under the name ‘Minister’, but after the release our drummer left and we lost a lot of momentum in the scene by the time we actually found someone else. Before Sam (drummer) left we were playing 2 shows every week around the country and really grinding it out and seeing more and more people start to turn up. Then we just stopped, trying to start again would have killed us. We hadn’t burnt out at the time, but if we had to start to build up that momentum again I think we would have. We all went off and did little projects after, Erim did ‘Wake Up Leo’, I did ‘Hound Baskerville’. I kept writing music for Minister, then me and Erim just thought, why not re-record all our old songs and everything we have written and just release it, bit by bit. We didn’t need to play shows or anything, just put our music out into the world. Doing things differently than how we had before. Whilst we were getting back into the studio and recording bits we both just felt like we should get a full time drummer and bassist and actually start playing again. Of course Covid-19 happened so it put a spanner in the works there but we still wanted to release what we had and that’s what we have started to do, hopefully once this has all been lifted we can get back out there and play some shows.

2. Releasing your first song for 6 years must’ve been pretty daunting, there must’ve been thoughts clouding your mind, can you share some of the thoughts you had around releasing this song?

Yeah, It was pretty daunting, like I said we felt like we lost all momentum in the scene and we didn’t even know if anyone would care about us releasing new music at this point. We still felt like we had somethings we wanted to say and even if no one heard it at least we said it, and sometimes that’s all that matters. We had never really been great with the music release side of the business, it would be great if the music could do all the work but unfortunately that’s not how things work in the industry. We really focused on this release, who we were going to reach out to, how the release would look, what else we can do for the fans as we release the music – really looking at the business side of the music this time around, compared to how we did it when we first started.

3. Are you happy with how your debut with ‘Minister’ has performed?

I feel like there is more we could have done if we could have got together before the return from the hiatus, but with what we have and what we were working against I think we have done really well, we are pretty DIY. We record the music ourselves, make all the music videos and lyric videos, we don’t have a big budget to play with but I am really proud with what we have done so far.

4. What can fans expect next from Minister? Once Covid has gone anyway!

Well we are still going to focus on recording everything we have, let people see what we are saying and how we sound and if people want us to play we will. We have been contacted by bands and promotors with interest for us to play with or for them once everything is back to normal so hopefully we can get back on stage, I know we are all missing it.

5. Were there any artists or albums that inspired ‘BMBITHH’ in particular?

When I was writing the song I would stop and think, “man, this intro reminds me of Every Time I Die”, or “this bit reminds me of Deftones”, I think that stayed in my mind when it came to recording it and what tones we used for the track. For inspiration when writing, I don’t think I was really thinking much, I know there will always be a tinge of At The Drive-In, Death Cab for Cutie in everything I write because that is what I was listening to when I first started playing and writing music as a teenager.

6. What inspired your lyrics to ‘BMBITHH’?

I suffer from a lot of depression and low self esteem and I get in my own way sometimes, but I know that when I write I am on some subconscious level trying to write with a positive edge. Music is an output for me and for BMBITHH, the song is about even if you are feeling a bit beat down, try and focus on that output, that motivation that keeps you going, pick yourself back up dust it off, don’t let people hold you down and try to end up where you want to be. Even if that place is just happy, I guess if I have 1 wish for everyone, I hope that everyone dies happy, it’s going to happen, so try and live the best life you can, even if it takes a lot of work to get there.

7. What was your first gig experience like?

So our first show was at The New Cross Inn, we were asked by this band called Morning Wire to play with them, I can’t remember how the show itself went but we ended up building a good friendship with them and played quite a few shows with them when we first came on the scene, I think there was even a Christmas themed show at some point, great guys and we used to just hang out with them drinking for hours after the show.

8. What impact do you think Covid-19 will have on the music scene? How is it currently affecting you?

It’s crippled the music scene, the rock and alt scene has been underground for the last 6/7 years now. Rock music isn’t dead and it never will die but it hasn’t had the same amount of money injected into it like how hiphop has recently, so having even more revenue being cut for the last 2 months and who knows for how much longer, has caused a lot of problems. A lot of venues have been put onto critical lists, a lot of them have been saved due to donations, but there are those in the scene that have lost jobs, or freelancers who are not going to be bailed out by the government. People who support the music scene have lost jobs or not sure what’s going on so they are not going to be buying merch. Some people think once it’s all lifted everyone is going to rush back out but I don’t know, I hope people do but I can see a lot people being cautious with either spending money going out or just going out because they are still worried about being in a crowded venue. Personally it’s been a blessing in disguise in my personal life, my wife and I are expecting pretty soon so I have been able to stay home a look after her as well as being given the time to focus on song writing, recording, I do freelance video editing too so it’s been a productive time.

9. What has been the most surreal moment of your musical career?

I don’t think I will ever getting over that feeling when you hear your own music being played on the radio. I remember when BBC Introducing played Basements and I tuned in and heard it and it just felt so surreal, that feeling never gets old for me.

10. Can you share your funniest show story?

I think this could be an answer for the previous question as well, we were once asked to play this hipster venue in London, I think it was an all day sort of show. To this day, I still don’t know why we were put on the line up, every other band was an indie band, at one point a band had 5 different stringed instruments on stage, including a banjo, ukulele, violin, acoustic guitar and bass guitar, and still had a drummer and keyboardist. The headlining band was a Mexican version of the Beatles, circa 1964, suits and all. I just remember seeing a guy sitting at the back of the venue eating an apple and reading a book of poetry while the bands played, it was funny and a tad bit odd.

11. Leave a message for the fans!

I just want to say thank you for all the support over the years and thank you for waiting for us to come back as well, we have seen a lot of people supporting our return and it just makes us happy because without them we wouldn’t be here, we have something special for our fans coming up and I hope they all love it, we do it for them.

Spotify / Facebook / Twitter.

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