Both Bryan Minks and the band he fronts, Those Crosstown Rivals, are very active in the Lexington, KY music scene and super-busy in general. They tour regularly, put together a local singer-songwriter night every month at Buster’s, and organize an annual festival called Squallfest. (Part of this year’s proceeds go to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.) They are also performing in the Shaker Steps Well Crafted Festival this year, along with the coordinating ticket and merch giveaway for it at the Dear Ben Nichols Facebook Page. Since I’m still pretty new to Lexington, I asked Minks to take some time out of his genuinely crazy schedule to enlighten me and elaborate on what they’ve got goin’ on these days. I not only learned a lot about that, but also about the band’s background and founding.
Tell us about your “baby,” Squallfest.
This all started with my passion to do two things: Do something good to help those in need, and do my part in the growth and development of music and arts in Kentucky. Not to go into too much detail, but my family has been affected by medical tragedy by incurable disease, and I know the feeling of hopelessness all too well. This is my effort to help other people who share these same tragedies. Many people in the world are dealing with the same misfortunes, and if we can all combine our efforts and make what contribution we can, then perhaps a difference can be made, disease can be cured, and, more importantly, life quality can be restored. What better avenue to convey these ideas than through music? Music is the one thing that provides hope and happiness to everyone, no matter how bad the hand we’ve been dealt may feel.
Not to mention, the lineup this year is going to be fantastic! It really is going to be a great representation of what is going on here. Eyes are beginning to focus on the music coming out of this area, and if people want to get a feel of the community we are building here as musicians, I urge you to come to this event. You won’t be disappointed.
And how about the singer-songwriter night at Buster’s?
The singer-Songwriter night at Buster’s is something I’ve felt needed to be done in Lexington for a long time. There is a wealth of talented musicians throughout the commonwealth, and we need an avenue to come together, build a community, and show everyone the talent and soul that is flourishing here. My dream for this event is for everyone to leave their reservations at home, break down the genre walls/social cliques that surround them, and come together as a thriving music scene that loves and supports each other. I want this event to be something that we all go to once a month to talk about music, upcoming shows, good spots on the road, and, most importantly, listen to and support great artists! Just from booking and promoting this event, I’ve already uncovered multiple artists in our own city I wasn’t aware of. If everyone gets on board, it becomes easy to support each other and find new artists and bands to book with. Combine your efforts with others, build a family in music, and watch our scene grow and flourish!
Tell us about Well Crafted Festival.
We’re really excited to be part of Well Crafted this year. The lineup that those guys have put together is incredible, and the venue is amazing. It truly is a wonderful place and is a great representation of the natural beauty the commonwealth has to offer. Derek (Doc) Feldman is who we’ve worked with for the festival, and he is a fantastic artist who shares the same beliefs as myself. He believes in music, and, more importantly, he believes in our music scene here in Kentucky.
I’d like to switch gears a little bit and get more into the background and formation of Those Crosstown Rivals. On that note, what did you do before Those Crosstown Rivals? Had you made music before, solo or with bands?
Well, I’ve been playing music since I was 12 years old. Started out on a Sears acoustic given to me from my Papaw. I played the shit out of that thing but always had a burning desire to play loud rock and roll, so I took my Nintendo, all the games, a broken-ass TV, and whatever else I could scrounge from my bedroom (I was still 12) to the pawn shop and traded it in for a beautiful, cheap-ass Les Paul knockoff and a peavey bandit 112. That was it. My path was set, whether I knew it or not. In my teen years, I went through a mish-mash of shitty bands, just playing music I enjoyed with friends. After that, I took a break for a few years to get some things taken care of, and then came TCR. I feel like maybe I lost hope in music for a bit there, but luckily I have a wonderful wife at home who pushed my ass back in the right direction. Fuck what society tells you that you should aspire for. Aspire for what’s in your soul. The feeling playing music gives me is almost indescribable, so I always knew I’d find a path back to it. It still makes me feel like a kid, uncontrollable happiness and fun. Even though a lot of the songs I’m singing are dark or about bad times, it just feels good. I use music and emotion as self-therapy do deal with all the shit going on in my head driving me crazy. I believe most people fall into the mold, get old, get a job, get a bunch of shit you don’t need, and then forget how to have fun. They forget what it felt like to be a kid and just let go. Not me, though. This is the core of my existence. Writing, playing music and feeling what we all use to feel as kids: genuine happiness.
Shit, man, that’s awesome. Well, tell me, how did you meet your band mates, Cory Hanks and J Tyler? What made y’all decide to form a band?
Cory and I met through work, and we’ve been like brothers since the beginning. J Tyler was a friend of a friend. There’s a pretty good story with that, but I’m not sure I’m at liberty to tell it. Either way, I’m glad whatever happened, happened. I’m really happy to have J Tyler in TCR.
TCR started with Nick Walters, Cory, and myself. Nick’s no longer with us, but he’ll always be part of TCR’s core. It was really loose, just musicians who had been absent from playing for a bit with the desire to get back into the mix. We started out just jamming and drinking beer to see where/how things would go. Within a few months we were tracking a demo and booking everywhere we could. And well – here we are now, nearly five years, four records, and hundreds of shows later, and I feel like we’re still just getting started.
What are your loves outside of music?
Fishing and Cars. Well, Volkswagens and baseball. I grew up in southeastern Kentucky with a dad who was an avid hunter/fisher, as well as one hell of a baseball player, and a papaw who was a VW mechanic. Those things have always been in my blood.
When I get downtime at home, I usually try to get out to the creek for some fishing. Just wading in the water with the summer canopy over my head is healing. It always sets me back to where I need to be. Or me and my wife Erica will hop in the bug with Hank (my bulldog) in the backseat and just go for a ride. And who the hell doesn’t enjoy a cold beer and a baseball game? It’s the simple things in life that really bring me the most joy.
TCR’s been pretty busy this year touring behind your latest release, Hell and Back. What’s in store for y’all the rest of this year into 2015?
We’re going to finish the year strong, hit as many spots as we can on the road, and try to keep spreading the music. I know we’ve got shows in Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, Michigan, Ohio already on the books, and we’re still adding more.
Beyond that, my main goal is to get this next record written and recorded. We’ve picked up a lot of traction with Hell and Back, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg, and I want everyone to hear that! Everyone should come to a live show, then they’ll know what I mean.