The music of Miner might be one part 1849-er homestead hymn, one part hootenanny, but the project’s moniker is also the last name of half of the band members. This indie folk rock family affair is composed of Silver Lake husband and wife Justin and Kate Miner, plus Justin’s brother and cousin and two other friends. It is the carefree family attitude that makes Miner so infectious and hard to ignore.
Though frontman Justin Miner is new to exploring lighter thematic material, you wouldn’t know it listening to the group’s music. A palpable exuberance comes through in their recordings, first on the EP and now their debut album, Into the Morning. This exuberance is amplified during Miner’s live performances. The duo is a couple (literally) of born performers as frontwoman Kate is also an actress. The band is riding that energy into their first full-length album, which comes out on February 25th, and a slew of concert dates with Typhoon and Cayucas, including a show at El Rey Theatre on March 6.
I recently had a chance to chat with Miner about the forthcoming full-length, the challenges of the modern music industry, and more. Check out their answers below!
How does Into the Morning expand on the ideas of your previous EP?
Justin Miner: It’s definitely an extension of the EP. Four of the songs from the EP are on the album. Basically just mining (if you’ll excuse the pun) that vein of what we were thinking of when we were writing those songs. When I was writing those songs, I didn’t know this was going to turn into a full-blown project like it is now. Once it started taking off and we started playing live, that gave me a better idea of what we actually sounded like, and that helped me write the rest of the songs on the records.
Kate Miner: It’s easier to write for a band once you have the band. [Laughs]
How did the experience of writing and recording Into the Morning differ from your previous experiences?
JM: The recording went basically the same except we had just gotten better at it. The thing that changed with the writing was that Kate got a lot more involved and we co-wrote all the songs that were written for this full album.
Where does the album name Into the Morning come from?
JM: The title comes from the opening track, “Dawn.” Kate was writing the song, and I heard and really liked it, so we worked it a little bit and made it the opening. It basically summed up — without having realized it when she wrote it — the idea of the record in the sense that this was all about entering a phase of light and positivity. A lot of the music I had been making prior to this had been centered around more negative emotions. I wanted to make a record about the good parts in life.
Was it easier or harder to write from a happier place?
JM: I did find it harder initially, but it’s rewarding and it seems that people are responding to it as well.
KM: It’s more fun to play on stage, too. It’s just like a party. We have so much fun playing the music. The crowd is happy. It’s very different than if you’re playing something dark.
JM: The main challenge of writing positively is just not falling into cliche.
What’s the biggest challenge today for a young indie band?
JM: The biggest challenge is that the industry is in flux. A lot of the money has been drained out of it [due to technology]. Even though there are probably more artists making a living, it’s harder to get to that stage where you’re making more than just enough to cover bare necessities. But at the same time, we’ve been able to kind of skate along because of new things like the Internet and television placements and things that bands didn’t used to get to do.
KM: Yes, that new thing the Internet.
JM: That newfangled thing!
I’ve read that the band was inspired by a trip through Central and South America. Can you tell me a little about that?
JM: I needed a reset from the life I was living here in LA, so we went on a trip after I quit my job, and we explored. We felt very refreshed creatively and came back with a lot of creative ideas and started working immediately to try to capture the feeling we had while we were traveling. That’s where the first EP came from.
KM: For Justin and I, we feel more inspired once we get out in nature, so when we hit a roadblock or a record block, the simple solution is to go camping up in Big Sur for the weekend.
Kate, you’re also an actress. Is performing for an audience any different than performing for the camera?
KM: There’s nothing better than performing for an audience. There’s an energy. It feels like there’s electricity in the air. Everyone you’re performing for is involved in the performance. Acting is much more quiet.
How do you navigate working together and being married? Does it ever cause any consternation?
KM: We spend a lot of time together. More than most married couples. It’s kind of fun, too, because in a lot of ways, we practically communicate without even having to talk. We’re just on the same page very easily. When we’re in writing mode, it’s a very different thing than when we’re in married mode and just having dinner.
JM: You have to [compartmentalize]. Otherwise you end up working 24 hours a day.
KM: I’ll say, ‘We have to get out of the house and go see a movie or somethig or else we’re going to go too crazy!’
Miner Tour Dates:
3/06 – Los Angeles, CA / The El Rey Theatre (w/ Typhoon)
3/10 – Portland, OR / Mississippi Studios (w/ Cayucas)
3/11 – Vancouver, BC / Media Club (w/ Cayucas)
3/12 – Seattle, WA / Barboza (w/ Cayucas)
3/14 – Sacramento, CA / Harlow’s (w/ Cayucas)
3/15 – Santa Cruz, CA / The Catalyst (w/ Cayucas)
6/13 – Aspen, CO / Snowmass Mammoth Fest
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