Driving riffs and dreams of Devon Wilson: Mini Simmons run us through their bluesy debut EP

The EP Whisky & The Witch is comprised of four tracks written over the first few weeks of Mini Simmons ‘life’. It was a raw time creatively for us and everything that sprung to mind came streaming out and we went with it. We were more excited to see where things took us than worried about how it came together as a cohesive work but in the end, I think the tracks really play to one another in a natural, non-deliberate way.

The drive towards a sound is certainly the most notable element of these early works and is perhaps best typified by the opening track Cowboy Cigarette, and Witching Hour. Our ideas were certainly driven by our love of the guitar-led blues-rock movement of the late 1960s. Everything else flowed from there with subject matter harvested at random from experiences, feelings, dreams and pop culture.

mini simmons whiskey and the witch track by track

Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and acid-soaked blues rock. Straight from the horse’s mouth, here’s what Mini Simmons have to say about their debut EP.

Cowboy Cigarette

Cowboy Cigarette is a wistful, acid-washed blues story taken straight out of the truck-stops and diners of southern America. What started in Yoni’s (drummer) hands as a country-style ‘cowboy song’ swiftly received a raunchy riff and grating vocals, finding its swaying groove somewhere between Arizona and New Mexico.

Written from the perspective of an old man at the end of his life, the tale of melancholy winds its way through a life not truly lived, beginning as ends; with the “long sleep”.
Without a chorus in the traditional sense, the song leans heavily on the beautifully haunting instrumental. Guided by the fluid hand of Brad’s experiments on slide guitar, the bridge breaks up the blues growl perfectly before slipping back into a whispered slumber.

Slippery Gypsy Woman

An up-tempo pop-rock song with a bouncing lyrical hook, the key to Slippery Gypsy Woman is in its simplicity. The intro pulses back and forth before minimalising in the verse to leave space for a smooth, doubled vocal. The question-answer style interaction between the vocals and instrumentation through the verse helps to build a swaying tension as the song swings to its crescendo.

The chorus is reminiscent of ’90s grunge-rock with pop sensibilities; a driving, heavy, thrash behind a repetitive yet catchy lyrical melody. It’s at this point that the topic of the song is uncovered – a ‘Slippery Gypsy Woman’. It’s a band members ex-girlfriend who left the poor guy in financial troubles while stuck in the jungles of Costa Rica. Hopefully the song will make an honest woman of her…

The final element of the song; a punchy, cutting guitar solo is exactly what it needs to bring it all together. Direction, tone and wah. You need wah.

Witching Hour

It’s all in the riff. Bluesy rock ‘n’ roll played live. Witching Hour was the first recording we made where the bulk of the instrumentation was tracked together live in a bedroom of the flat and that comes through in the feel. A raw powerful sound with a low, story-telling rasp epitomises the early direction of the band.

The song is a loose retelling of a dream about Devon Wilson after I had spent an afternoon listening to Jimi Hendrix’s song Dolly Dagger. It’s almost a reverse Dolly Dagger if you like, with “The Devil’s Queen” stealing me from “The Witch” who I’d had a thing with in this dream. It’s interesting to write something totally fictional that happened only in your imagination. It can start and end wherever, without owing anything to reality; you can really paint outside the lines.

The outro borrowed a little from Jimi too with a few offhand lines directed at the subjects of the story rather than continuing to tell it. A quick change of perspective echoed over a pulsating groove between the bass and guitar.

Bar Dance

A mystical séance travelling on the back of a snaking bassline and Latin-style drums, this track carries a more ethereal, hypnotic vibe. The band chimes in together, riding the wave of an organ that pierces the silence and provides a bed for the opening verse. Dark vocals and a beautiful, sparse guitar melody complete a more Doors-ey sound than previous tracks.

The lyrical aspect of the song depicts a lonely bar scene inspired by Rory Gallagher’s A Million Miles Away. Various characters are given their one line in the “cold red light” including the barmaid, a card hustler and Madam Bijoux, stolen from the pages of Jack Dawson’s sketchbook in Titanic. As with all great bars the world over, degenerates and jailbait are the last left standing When The Music’s Over.

Bar Dance feels like a song that is constantly building towards something, and doesn’t disappoint reaching the climax of the EP with an immaculate, Knopfler-esque guitar solo that feels like home. It’s hard to describe, but the best explanation would be something you can wrap yourself in, drink warm and sleep smiling to.