Using Spare Parts: How The Mimes Were Birthed by the Pandemic
Coming out of Cincinnati's thriving underground scene, the newly-formed trio The Mimes meld trashy garage punk with fuzzy lo-fi pop across their debut album, Plastic Pompei. We caught up with all three members to get the story behind the band, the creation of the debut LP, and its DIY visuals.
Comprised of Maura Weaver (Mixtapes, The Homeless Gospel Choir, Ogikubo Station, Direct Hit!), John Hoffman (Vacation, Chuck Cleaver), and Megan Schroer (The Homeless Gospel Choir, Ogikubo Station), who all had played together in Boys in the early 2010s, The Mimes emerged out of pandemic boredom after the three were living together and sharing the same practice space. Released through Let's Pretend Records last year, the 11-track debut album highlights social injustice and environmental degradation through the trio's crunchy experiments and fractured shards of blending genres. The title track even includes a spoken-word part from fellow Cinicinnati hip-hop artist Siri Imani. We caught up with all three members to get the story behind the band, the creation of Plastic Pompeii, and its DIY visuals.
Paperface Zine: How did you three meet and form The Mimes?
The Mimes: John and Megan were sharing a practice space, and Maura got a practice space in the same building. Then when the lockdown happened, we just became quarantine buddies, and started jamming and doing whatever we wanted, and then became a recording project. Later on we had to figure out how to translate the tracks into a live setting. We were pleasantly surprised to sell every copy we made of the album on the first day, which was about 40 haha.
PZ: How did your debut LP Plastic Pompei come about?
TM: Well John is also a recording engineer, and we just recorded as we wrote the songs. If we got an idea we would just record it on the spot, or maybe the next day after we wrote it. Then a week or two would go by, and we'd record another song. So it wasn't just one session, it was a process. It was like striking while the iron's hot, while the feeling is still there, instead of booking one session of studio time. There would just be little influences here and there, and it was what fell out of us at that moment. The only conscious thing we did was ruling out the things that we had already done. I think something that makes it sound different on every song, too, was that we purposely swapped instruments constantly. A Lot of times we were learning what to do while we were playing, intentionally pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone.
PZ: There's some direct social commentary sprinkled through the tracks of this new album that are reminiscent of The Dead Milkmen. Have they influenced you at all?
TM: Yeah definitely! We also dig The Magnetic Fields, Beat Happening, Daniel Johnston, a little Wire, and even some Deee-Lite.
PZ: What are some other themes that you guys explored on the new album?
TM: "Day 23" was originally written as part of a songwriting project during quarantine to write a song every day for a month. It's about what it would be like to fall in love when you can't see or touch anyone. "Knob" is literally about a knob from a microphone that fell on the ground. "Mockingbird" is about the echo-chamber aspect of politics and social media. The title track is just, you know, how we're ruining the earth. "David Mann" is a local politician (and huge baby) who left a city council meeting five hours early due to Black Lives Matter protesters. A Lot of the lyrics on the album have a dark, isolation vibe. If there's a theme throughout the album, it's that.
PZ: What songs from this new record really stood out to you?
TM: I feel like each one has its own little moment because we would spend so much time on them. The opening track "Cereal" is special just because it was the first one we wrote that had a distinct sound.
PZ: You guys have collaborated with a few local artists for your music videos. Take me through the making of some.
TM: We did "Knob" first. Our landlord is a sculpture artist, he has these terrifying sculptures in the basement. So we went down there and filmed, and used his sculptures for the video. Shortly thereafter, he told us to never go into his sculpture room again haha. "The Ugliest One" was directed by the husband and wife that run our practice space. The idea is we are having a birthday party that nobody shows up to. We made the video for "Cereal" right after that, in John's apartment. We used a VHS camera hooked up to a car battery.
PZ: What's next for The Mimes?
TM: We have no shows at the moment but hopefully that changes soon! We're also halfway through LP 2! We're moving a little slower since we're also recording with our other bands but hopefully it'll be finished soon!
Plastic Pompei is out now through Heinous Oaf Records.