The Screaming Mimes' four members have families, full-time jobs and responsibilities that occupy time most bands set aside for practices, writing, recording and gigging. And they're of an age and mindset to not be overly pie-eyed about having a shot at fame and fortune in an Indie Rock band. Ironically, they're good enough to warrant it.
As the band -- multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/chief songwriter Dave Storm, guitarist/vocalist Randy Campbell, bassist/vocalist Preston Price and drummer/vocalist Jim Farmer -- prepares for the CD release party for its sophomore album, Tragedy Comic, the members appreciate their accomplishments as well as the support that has helped them achieve their creative goals.
"I tell my wife that I don't golf. This is my golf, this is my social life," Storm says with an easy laugh. "The times we get to step away and be a boy-gang is the four of us playing together.
We have saints for spouses and very forgiving children who understand that we're much harder to live with when we're not playing music."
The Mimes began unofficially in 1997 when Storm, Price and Campbell worked for a struggling video production house. Storm brought his acoustic guitar to work as a downtime diversion and Price and Campbell followed suit. All veterans of the local cover/original band scene, the three eventually aspired to something louder and more structured than casual acoustic jamming and invited Farmer to provide a proper beat, becoming an official band in 2002.
After three years of gigging as schedules allowed, the Mimes assembled their debut album, Live My Life, to ecstatic local response. Widely hailed as next generation Raisins-styled, Beatles-esque Indie Rock and leading lights of Cincinnati's Pop contingent, the Mimes have grown considerably in the intervening years; Tragedy Comic is substantial evidence.
"Half of Live My Life was written prior to the band being formed. Everything on Tragedy Comic has been written since Live My Life came out," Storm says. "Everything was written with the four players in mind and the sound we've developed. I like to think that everything we learned -- both mistakes and good lessons -- from Live My Life we applied to the second album."
Featuring a more live approach with minimal overdubs, Tragedy Comic bristles with Indie Pop energy, veering methodically between light and dark with a tightly wound melodicism threaded throughout. In addition to foundational influences like Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello, Neil Finn and the Raisins/psychodots/Bears triumvirate, Storm notes that new music made its way into his consciousness this time around.
"Things like The Shins, eels and The Orange Peels, modern bands that seemed to have similar roots that I did," Storm says. "For the first time I was engaged in new music and that informed our approach a lot. Having those doors opened allowed us to explore new areas with our songs, which was a lot of fun."
2008 promises to be busy for the Screaming Mimes. As they balance normal lives with promoting Tragedy Comic, they will continue work on their third album, which is about half completed. For a band with few aspirations to hit the jackpot with their music, Screaming Mimes is working awfully hard.
"I love this town and I love the music scene and I guess I just want to keep being known and respected around town," Storm says. "If the people around here like us -- and I think most of them have really excellent musical taste -- then I know we're doing something really right."
SCREAMING MIMES (screamingmimes.com) host a CD release party Friday at the Southgate House. Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.