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Introducing: Minotaurs PDF Print E-mail
Written by Nic Wright   
21 09 2011
ImageMinotaur's début album 'Eat Yr Hate' was released to great acclaim earlier this month. It's a very special record, and you might think it's obliged to be; it's been five long years in the making. Since their formation back in 2006, the South Shields based band have been almost as elusive as their imprisoned mythical namesake, appearing little and formulating the sort of mythical reputation that made their gigs more unmissable events than shows.

Although, perhaps shattering their mystery a little, the reasons for their scant live presence are more practical than anything else; "I wasn't aware we had a reputation!" says singer Andrew Forster. "It was never the intention. We'd have liked to have played a few more shows around the country over the years but have often struggled due to the amount of band members and equipment we have. We'd get offered £200 or so to play a gig in London. Sounds okay? But then it would actually cost us more than that to get us all there and back and stay the night."

Either way, it seems to have worked for them; their gig earlier this month at The Cluny drew some impressive crowds, and even more impressive whisperings amongst gig-goers. "We've always been careful to pick the right gigs and not to overdo things so you could say it's been conscious choice in that respect." Following their gig in Newcastle, its characteristically back into the mist for Minotaurs; "It was definitely our last, and first, local show this year but there has been talk of another date, perhaps in London, if we can make it work," says Andrew.

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But the reality of being a band on the road means Minotaur's touring schedule is likely to stay remain skimpy, especially when your guitarist is also enjoying the popularity boom of his other band, Frankie & The Heartstrings. "It's harder to get everyone together these days with all the other bands and side projects. We couldn't really tour the record properly due to jobs, kids, other band commitments and lack of finance and transport."

ImageThat said, it's likely that the album, on a limited run of five hundred physical copies, will sell on its own merit, even without an accompanying tour. A delicate, folk-laden set of 'contemporary ghost stories', 'Eat Yr Hate' is actually a second attempt for Minotaurs, and has clearly benefited from the band's decision not to put out a record that they weren't absolutely happy with; "We had already recorded the album once before in 2009 and scrapped the entire thing. We were encouraged to do a lot of stuff to click tracks/metronome and it really spoiled the feel for us."

With outside influences impressing, and band members passing in and out, the band's sound had been in flux for some time before they settled into their own sound, Andrew says; "When your entire rhythm section changes, the subtle nuances in individuals playing can really contribute to a bands sound. Around the time of the 'Anyone Who Had A Heart' EP, song-writing sessions would be like 'Hmm, this sounds a bit Smithsy or a bit Belle and Sebastian; great! We'll work on this tune'. Now, we would be more likely to scrap anything that had those reference points."

Although that's not to say some songs weren't salvaged from their five year history, albeit refreshed and restructured. "The album has some songs that are around five years old, like 'Anyone Who Had A Heart', and then songs like 'The Arrival' and 'Two of A Kind' were written in the final weeks of pre-production. Most of the older songs were re-arranged so much, they all felt like new songs by the end of it."

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Timings and line-up changes weren't the only powers shaping the finished début however; recorded in the wilds of Northumberland, the band felt it crucial to get into a new space to lay down the album, a separate oasis from home and business lives. "Mick (Ross, guitar) and I actually ran our own recording studio at the time in Jarrow," says Andrew. "However, there was the added stress of being business partners, spending so much time together there and us both having very different ideas on production. It was important we had a completely new environment to record in. Producer Arran Fisher really put his own stamp on the record too. It was equally as important to have as few distractions as possible."

So with 'Eat Yr Hate' being the product of five years of work, will it take as long to get a follow-up done? The answer is typically, well, mysterious. "We have enough material left and we're all still pretty active in writing and demoing ideas," supposes Andrew. "It just depends on time. I'm guessing we won't be even thinking of recording again until at least the New Year."

Until then, it looks like it's back into the labyrinth for Minotaurs.
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