Key to the Mint is a very forward thinking band with an old sound. We talked over drinks in an eighty five year old booth about their recording process, inner struggles, and fourth member revolving door status.
These guys get down to business quick, which shows in the second album “A Godless Line”. I barely had time to turn on the sound recorder before Rich Kundricik, the drummer and auxiliary synth player of the group was telling me all about the intimate details of the band.
Rich told me with locked eyes and an expressive hand gavel motion that, “everything this band does is by us” adding that “writing, producing, mastering, and instrumentation” are all covered by Key to the Mint. Each song on A Godless Line is layered with over fifty tracks of guitars, synths, drums, and vocals. This album does not sound like an over digitized layer cake of pointless noise. It sounds like a well thought out new wave album that fits perfectly into the end of 2017.
Guitarist John Alexander further explains the process by telling me “Most of the album was actually written while we were recording it”. No one person plays one instrument exclusively. “Whatever popped in to anyone’s mind was explored and experimented with immediately”, to amazing results.
There are a lot of new wave enthusiasts out there dreaming of sounding like singer Joel Anger. The entire cohesiveness of the album is based off of Joel’s baritone swooning. The glue that holds Key to the Mint together was just a simple Craigslist ad away. Joel posted an ad seeking a band that could support a singer with influences of Frank Sinatra, Jim Morrison, Morrissey, and Robert Smith. When Rich and John responded he was worried that maybe he was being fucked with by some Cleveland metal band. Much to his delight, he had found the band he dreamed of joining.
According to Rich, “this is a songwriters era”. Key to the Mint at their core is nothing more than three great songwriters, and Joel fit in immediately. I was getting the feeling that this band isn’t like most of the bands that I talk to. Which lead me to the question, “Is this more of a friendship or a business?” “It has the feel of a startup company” Rich told me. Which makes my nerves curl initially. “It is a business, but there are friendships” Joel adds. I’m in punk rock cardiac arrest as I start to understand that this is the new DIY. Using the internet to find the people that would find you most attractive and then create art with said people. It’s not all basement shows and back patches anymore.
Listening through the second time I realized that A Godless Line openly displays the amount of work that was put into it. And the quote from John,” I’m just making the records that I want to listen to” rang true through that listen. Echoed by Joel’s thought of “It was a miracle that I found such talented people to work with.”. The album sounds like it put the band back $40,000 and it was written, recorded, mixed, and mastered by them. Self production is very common this day and age, but pulling it off with utter professionalism is very rare.
The album sways from sad and dancy to sad and heartbreaking. Joel’s lyrics are so bluntly honest, you can feel his pain as if it were your own. During a two week stay in the hospital Joel hand wrote all the lyrics to A Godless Line as therapy. John liked the visual aspect of the handwritten lyrics so much that he decided to use them as the album art. Now after two years of work Key to the Mint’s second album A Godless Line is available just in time for another lovely cleveland winter. I could not imagine a better album to be the soundtrack of seven months of bone shaking cold and endless night. Put it on and dance away the pain.