Art class was a bit of an oasis for me. Despite being considered a reasonably bright kid, I didn’t excel at academics – reading on someone else’s schedule just wasn’t my idea of a good time. I’d been drawing and painting from an early age and found it was something that both came naturally and gave me a great sense of enjoyment.
It was in high school art class that I’d make some of the most meaningful friendships, even though many didn’t last beyond graduation. Two of those friendships came my freshman year in the form of two seniors – both of whom I couldn’t be more dislike. It was in painting class where they’d started performing parody songs to entertain others. They’d tap out the rhythms on desks, textbooks, or any other surface the could find. Topics included obscure literary references, chronicles of their experiences hanging out in Portland, and just about anything else under the sun.
I was so into it that I’d offered to help them record their music. It should be noted that this was a ludicrous situation that makes me sound like a teenage entrepreneur/record producer. I had neither the money for, nor did I posses, any recording equipment. My brother, a musician to this day, did own enough cables and splitters for me to assemble something that would work. In addition to recording, I started designing band t-shirts to make in art class, photographed practices, and designed the cassette insert. They chose the name Mint Chocolate Chip as a tongue-in-cheek reference to Vanilla Ice.
Over time they’d developed their musical abilities. To fill out the band, there was a rotating cast of other musicians playing lead guitar and drums (see also Spinal Tap’s drummer issues). We eventually outgrew the cassette recorder and foraged cables and made the decision to pay for a studio about 30 minutes south of our hometown. We made the journey one evening, along with a substitute drummer and cheap electronic drum pads and began the process. Now, I’d led a fairly sheltered life up until that point and, not having spent many nights away from home, I had no clue how to call long distance to alert my mother I’d be home late. It was, after all, the mid ’90s and we didn’t have them new-fangled iPhones and email and texting was in its infancy. After a few failed attempts, too embarrassed to admit my lack of knowledge of telephony, I gave up. I figured “I’d told her we’d be hours, what’s the worry?”
Recording went until the next morning and we were happy with the final tracks. We paid our $75 and headed home. My mother was waiting in the doorway, having stayed up all night, wondering if her 14-year-old son was still alive. I was immediately grounded. Any photoshoots would have to occur at my house, sans-drummer number two as he too had suffered the same punishment.
We eventually sold the cassettes for $5 a piece, easily making back the recording money. The mere mention of Mint Chocolate Chip to those who bought the cassette or were lucky enough to catch a performance will immediately bring a smile to their face.
Movie referenced: Cool as Ice