I suppose that for people of a certain age Chuck Berry invented rock ’n’ roll and the Beatles and Rolling Stones improved upon it. If you are just a little bit younger you may be of the opinion that Mission of Burma perfected it in Boston almost 35 years ago. When Mission of Burma broke up for about twenty years or so, Peter Prescott did not sit around and twiddle his thumbs. He created two more great Boston bands in the Volcano Suns, Kustomized, and Peer Group. Mission of Burma are now about a decade into their reunion and Peter has stepped up and started yet another fantastic band in Minibeast. Imagine The Shining soundtracked as performed by Neu! or Can and you have some idea of what the band sounds like. Down the road from Boston in Providence a generation or so after Mission of Burma first began Rick Pelletier was making robotic punk rock with Six Finger Satellite. Their first full-length was produced by Bob Weston of Shellac, later to be the extra sound manipulator of Mission of Burma. After a few line-up changes and several albums for Sub Pop records the band broke up. Pelletier kept busy in various projects including La Machine. Prescott has recruited Pelletier along with guitar player Gillian Chadwick and Alec K. Redfearn, longtime leader of Providence avant everything group The Eyesores. It was absolutely a dream come true for me to finally interview Peter Prescott, one of my earliest and certainly biggest musical influences.
Noise: How did this band come about?
Peter: I started making this music with an eight-track hard drive recorder with absolutely no preordained direction when I first moved to Providence. I just kept adding and subtracting until I liked a song and then I would move on. I started with the bass and drums upfront. At a certain point I had an album.
Noise: So how did the other three members end up joining?
Peter: I moved to Providence two years ago with my girlfriend. I did the record with no intention of playing it live. The first people I got together to play with here were Alec K. Redfearn on bass guitar, Gillian Chadwick on guitar, and Rick Pelletier on drums. I play the guitar, second drum kit, and samples. They were curious enough to go with it and translate the stuff I made into flesh and blood.
Noise: Now that the band has played together for a little while, do you still write all the music, or does it come together more organically? Does everyone still play outside of the band?
Peter: I expect it to get more collaborative. We all have other on-going bands, including Burma, Ex Reverie with Alec and Gillian, the Eyesores with Alec, and La Machine with Rick.
Noise: Does Minibeast have any recordings available for public consumption? Will you be touring?
Peter: I released it at the end of last year on vinyl. You can also stream it and buy it on Spotify and iTunes. As far as touring, we are just starting to play. When we have recorded the band version, we will tour.
Noise: The songs that I have heard online feature background conversation and non-singing-type vocals. Are these samples from movies or do you sing them?
Peter: Sometimes I am singing. Usually it’s samples from instructional, children’s, and documentary records, stuff like that.
Noise: Where did the name Minibeast come from? Did the cartoon mascot come first?
Peter: The name was something small and kind of shadowy. I threw the name at a friend of mine, Matt Albanese of Evil Design (amazing stuff) and he made the cartoon.
Noise: Tell me a little about how this all came to be. Was this a cerebral reaction to Mission of Burma and pulling in another direction? What were some of your influences when you were conjuring up this material? What do you think of the young house party scene in Boston with bands like Guerilla Toss, Cult & Leper, the Needy Visions, Mike Mountain, and Cave Bears and the Providence warehouse scene with artists like Lightning Bolt and Russian Tsarlag?
Peter: Because the band formed around my recordings and my recordings were made by a sort of automatic songwriting, there were no influences on the band. That said, after the fact when we started translating the pieces to a four-piece “rock” format, everybody’s playing style came into play. So the influences were in the playing and not the writing itself. Actually, over the past 20 years though I still like and listen to a lot of punk and post-punk, my preferred listening tends to soundtracks, exotica, odd jazz, and Krautrock. These are the influences on the band, in a sense, so it is an action, not a reaction to anything, except maybe modern indie stuff, much of which I find a little boring and predictable. As far as the basement stuff, I have flat out not heard too much, but damn, I love the idea of it. I try to go out and see stuff when I can and Burma tours expose me to stuff. At my age I would not waste time mimicking other bands I have been in, or liked, for that matter. I want to do original music and I feel with this band, that I am, and I can.
Noise: What do the band members do outside the group?
Peter: We do voiceovers, other bands, make unique headgear, do construction, fix instruments, and build things.
Noise: Now that the band is a solid four-piece, is it set in stone or will you consider adding other musicians?
Peter: Nothing with Minibeast is set in stone and we welcome interest from people who might offer sonic seasoning as a one-off.
Noise: What do you want people to get out of your shows? Do you have any local shows coming up?
Peter: We would like people to dance or at least throw themselves around in a rhythmic way. We are opening for Mission of Burma (yeah I know a couple of them) on February 6 at Spaceland in Connecticut and on February 9 at a benefit being held at the Regent Theatre in Arlington.