The Steak House Mints
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The Steak House Mints

Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008

Chicago, Illinois, United States
Established on Jan, 2008
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Steak House Mints sing from a prostitute's perspective
February 14, 2013|By Jessica Hopper, Special to the Tribune

On Billy Dave Sherman's second album with his orchestral-pop band The Steak House Mints, he not only sings from the perspective of a woman, he channels a prostitute.
The group issues its self-released album "Love Songs for Prostitutes" this week. Sherman took time recently to explain the concept of the album and how he found his way through it. (This is an edited transcript.)


Q: What is this new album, "Love Songs for Prostitutes," about?
A: My wife tells me to tell people it is about the underdog and finding glory for the common purpose — but that is not quite it. The title comes from a friend who directed a film called 'Romantico,' which follows a street musician here and in Mexico, for a year. He said something about how he played "quinceaneras, weddings, love songs for prostitutes," and immediately it felt like a very strong idea, and I said, "That's a great name for an LP."
All my records, I like to have an assignment; I find it helpful to have rules to prevent from writing the same love songs over and over. So this album, they are about this character of the prostitute. So I approached and thought about it as if I was writing a rock musical and would ask myself "OK, who would I introduce to tell this story?" I wrote some of the songs in the first person, feminine perspective — from her point of view.
Q: What is she like? What was your concept for her?
A: She is tough, and she is sad. It's weird: When I am writing a song I never know how it will turn out because I only have the seed. One line, a verse, a melody. And then you start rhyming, and so you have to justify the last thing you come up with, and so the song makes it's own rules. The next line determines where the song is going, and so it is hard to say I intended anything in a particular way — they wind up what they are.
The opening song was about an abstract traumatic event involving sex and power and relationship. In terms of the main character, when I am singing "Don't Mess With Me," it's pretty self-explanatory.
Q: How did you connect with your inner femininity to get the perspective you needed for the songs?
A: My inner feminine is not so inner. I don't have to dig deep. I am always ready to hang with the girls — not quite play dress up — but I get along.
Q: How conscious were you about trying to avoid the cliche of how men often write about women?
A: One thing I tried to keep in my head was "Would this be a good song for a woman who wins the gold in freestyle snowboarding in the Olympics?" Because I wanted to make something strong women would dig and rock out to. In terms of cliche, I am not sure I even avoided doing that. I try not to judge myself because it is hard enough to finish a song in the first place. I am sure there are some people who will find it to be cliche, but I just tried to find things to surprise myself when I was writing. I rework things a lot and don't just settle for the first thing that comes into my mind. I don't think it is healthy to worry what anyone thinks of what you are doing.
- Chicago Tribune


The Steak House Mints – Love Songs for Prostitutes
I'm a bit nostalgic when it comes to The Steak House Mints. I wrote about them way back in early 2009, when WCR was still a baby blog. I enjoyed their first record, Out of the Sky, so much that I would think about them every so often, hoping we'd hear more from them. It took a few years, but they finally released their second effort Love Songs for Prostitutes late this year. And man, is it great. Better than the first one. This is clever, top-notch pop-rock music with a touch of glam and a healthy twist of weird that I really love. It's all made even more ear-catching by the charismatic vocals of frontman Billy Dave Sherman. - Windy City Rock



Before even hitting "play" on Chicago locals The Steakhouse Mints' second LP, Love Songs For Prostitutes, you might suspect something about the band based on their titling techniques: they're a bit quirky. By the time you reach the album's third track — a jaunty, horn-filled ode to the now-shuttered, once seedy hangout The Diplomat hotel at Belmont and Sheffield avenues — you'll be sure of your suspicions.
Love Songs For Prostitutes is a mixed bag of influences, tempos, arrangements and styles. Though the record is upbeat and danceable throughout, its lyrics lean towards the dark and sardonic end of the spectrum. It seems like a disservice to simply classify The Steakhouse Mints as "indie rock" given their clear affinity for classic rock and pop icons such as Queen. As far as contemporary acts go, you'll find similarities to bands like Foxy Shazam and Modest Mouse. Give 'em a listen, they'll leave a fresh taste in your mouth. - The Chicagoist


Chicago quintet The Steak House Mints is an old-fashioned guitar pop band, shaping killer hooks amongst clever wordplay and big tunes. It’s the sort of thing that should never go out of fashion, but such is the fickle nature of modern music, bands like The Steak House Mints rarely breakout of their immediate locale. Still, we’re happy to do our bit, and if classic new wave bands like The Cars, XTC and Squeeze have found a place in your affections, you should probably make room for this lot, too.

Erstwhile opener “Hi-Ya” displays all the subtle ingenuity of The Tubes going toe to toe with Queen, but in a good way, and the following “Yeah, Right” contains a keyboard motif that’s borderline dangerous. Both are wonderful, but better still is “The Diplomat Hotel” where a horn section is employed and it’s just so joyous. If you’re not grinning like a loon and bouncing ‘round the room, it might be worth checking your pulse.
www.facebook.com/TheSteakHouseMints
www.steakhousemints.bandcamp.com
Rob F. - Leicester Bangs


You have to admire Chicago's Steak House Mints for having the sense of humor to name themselves after a post-dinner breath freshener. The name is certainly amusing enough to grab the unsuspecting listener's attention, but after playing the band's debut album, "Out of the Sky," it's clear that they're notable for much more than what they call themselves. The record is a worthy listen throughout, full of beautiful Beatles-esque melodies and clever songwriting.
The Mints came to be after singer-songwriter Billy Dave Sherman assembled an ensemble to help bring his tunes to life, recruiting drummer Steve Gillis (formerly of Filter), bassist Shawn Sommer, guitarist Scott Tipping and keyboardist Vijay Tellis. The result is an album that sounds like the band has been releasing music together for years.

Sherman obviously knows his way around a pop song, delivering upbeat gems such as "All Because of You" - which features a pure, sunny vibe reminiscent of the Zombies classic "This Will be Our Year" - and "If I Were President," a fun, catchy rocker that explores just what its title suggests (check out the band's accompanying music video here). This isn't the kind of pop music that tries to have deeper meaning or unnecessary experimentation to make it okay for the hipster crowd to dig. It's just good-natured, catchy fun that gives you the chance to sing along to lines like, "If I were president my first lady'd be a stone cold fox/I'd cover her in furs and rocks/I'd make peace between the nerds and jocks/I'd make sure every cowboy had a gun/And find out what's up with area 51."

That said, the Mints play with quite a few sounds on the record, mastering soaring orch-pop via "Blue Fly" and "Flying in My Dreams" and finding Sherman sounding like indie rock's answer to Michael Bublé on "Cheap Thrill" and "Cat Dance." All of the material is strong, but the livelier power pop numbers provide the instant gratification.

"Out of the Sky" is a genuinely refreshing listen that justifies repeat plays and shows great promise for The Steak House Mints. You can pick it up at CD Baby. - Frank Krolicki


I advise everyone to buy a copy of this CD. Excellent value; fresh and undulating, with fine musicianship, quality lyrics and hooks that gently rip the meat off your body - WMNF


The Steak House Mints - Out Of The Sky (Independent)
There were a lot of power-pop type bands coming out of Chicago in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but it’s all slowed down over recent years. In fact, The Steak House Mints are the first new band of that particular ilk I’ve heard from the windy city in a while. Not that they’re a straight up Beatles / Byrds / Big Star inspired pop combo, hanging their songs on a hook, and forgetting the finer points of songcraft. They appear to be in possession of illustrious and eclectic record collections and, under the guidance of songwriter and vocalist Billy Dave Sherman, they’ve made the most of them. They mix up those classic pop melodies with a host of other influences, both contemporary and some a little longer in the tooth. So whilst maintaining a consistent overall sound and feel, we’re spoilt with a collection of extremely polished and beautifully arranged pop songs, which bring to mind artists as diverse as Flaming Lips, Colin Bluntstone, ELO, Tom Petty and Cars. If any of the above is of interest, feel free to check out their MySpace page, pronto: www.myspace.com/thesteakhousemints
Rob F. - http://www.leicesterbangs.co.uk/dec08-11.html


December 14, 2008
BY JIM DeROGATIS Pop Music Critic
Though one might question the wisdom of naming your band after that bowl of stale candy at the counter of an old-fashioned restaurant (best avoided for fear of other patrons who may not be so scrupulous in washing their hands after using the rest room), the Steak House Mints get absolutely everything else right on their recently released D.I.Y. debut album, "Out of the Sky." Their sound is an intricate and beautiful style of orchestral pop influenced by the Zombies, Nick Drake and "Pet Sounds"-era Beach Boys as well as more global avatars such as Os Mutantes and Astrud Gilberto.
Originating as a recording project by singer and songwriter Billy Dave Sherman, the live group has coalesced to include drummer Steve Gillis, keyboardist and sitar player Vijay Tellis, guitarist Scott Tipping and bassist Shawn Sommer, while the album is further fleshed out with elaborate horn and string arrangements that never sound overly fussy or overpower the simple but effective songs. If the band can pull off live what it's accomplished in the studio (its next local gig is Jan. 22 at Martyrs'), it's poised to join the likes of the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir and Canasta at the top of this city's ork-pop heap. - Chicago Sun Times


Discography

Out of The Sky - 2008
Love Songs for Prostitutes - 2013

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Bio

"Their sound is an intricate and beautiful style of orchestral pop influenced by the Zombies, Nick Drake and "Pet Sounds"-era Beach Boys as well as more global avatars such as Os Mutantes and Astrud Gilberto." 

-Jim DeRogatis, Chicago Sun Times

The Steak House Mints are comprised of curent and former members of Filter, Backyard Tire Fire, Magic Box, and Maggie Speaks.

 2013 was a good year for The Steak House Mints.  The band released their second CD and played great shows including an appearance at Taste of Chicago.  A successful radio campaign led to airplay on 158 stations nation wide. 

 On their second album, Love Songs for Prostitutes, The Steak House Mints continue to explore a wide variety of genres including glam rock, punk, psychedelic folk, orchestral pop, and even a little mariachi.  The thread that ties this collection together is strong song writing characterized by catchy melodies and clever lyrics.

 The Mints are proud to have been selected by Metromix as one of Chicagos top ten unsigned bands and featured on MTVs My Life as Liz and Public Televisions Road Trip Nation.  

Band Members