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05.06.2014

Start Your Own Fucking Band: An Oral History of the Mint Chicks

Today, the Pantograph Punch is proud to premiere the first in a series of video and written projects brought to our readers with the assistance of NZ On Air. When the site's covered music, theatre, places and people, we've often wished we had a way of conveying what they're about beyond paragraphs and hyperlinks. The idea isn't to repeat what our long-form writing aims to do already, but to instead provide another way of seeing the story, one that compliments a prose feature rather than just echoing it.

Basically, that means today's video and written piece are designed to work together as well as separately (but we think you'll enjoy them most together). In late 2013, Kieran Clarkin talked to all four original members of the band, their contemporaries, and their young fans who went on to great things, and his oral history documents the group's febrile, dizzying early years. Meanwhile, Louis Olsen and Frances Haszard have paid homage to the Mint Chicks' inimitable visual style with a video that captures their live performances better than shaky cameraphone footage could in the early 2000s, accompanied by fans' memories of their shows, from punk house parties to the final fisticuffs on stage.

The Mint Chicks: An Oral History

Documentary
Animation: Frances Haszard
Editing: Louis Olsen and Hayden Eastmond-Mein
Interviews: Luke McPake

 

Written Feature
Kieran Clarkin
Additional research and editing by Joe Nunweek

 

"Start your own fucking band."


These are reportedly the last words Kody Nielson had for the audience at the final Mint Chicks show, storming off the Bacco Room’s plinth of a stage on March 12, 2010. It's ended up being the outfit's quintessential quote – you could interpret it as provocative or progressive, faithful to the DIY ethic or a final explosion of anger from a group that got treated as spectacle more often than they were taken seriously.

What would the obit read? The Mint Chicks were a band from Auckland. They were four young men who went crazy on stage, didn't necessarily play well with others, and wrote a bunch of kickass songs. Active for roughly a decade, they left a striking legacy and undeniable influence on musicians, fans, the industry and the scene. But for a band that had three successful albums, won a bunch of awards and eventually secured their position as one of the most important bands of their generation, they didn't get there through any kind of lucky break or svengali.

Prior to any official releases they had a fairly long gestation period. They played constantly. They learned to record themselves. Only then were they eventually signed. It was through these first few years that they built a buzz for themselves slowly and consistently, winning new fans and listeners one by one.

That includes fans like me. Sometime at the tail end of 2003, I was in high school and still in Hamilton, and I saw the video for the single “Licking Letters” on afternoon television during exam leave. It immediately bypassed a lot of the sneering, hipper-than-thou filters I had developed as a 17-year-old for new (let alone new New Zealand) music. The strangest thing about it was that it had an NZ On Air logo at the end, a pedigree I had come to associate with The Feelers and Blindspott as a cynical teen.

Asking around, a friend’s brother had a CD to lend me. It was called Octagon, Octagon, Octagon and the geometric theme extended to the striking cover art – mismatching humanoid grotesques on a black and white fisheye cityscape, the interior all radioactively bright colours and jewel facets. They were the coolest fourteen minutes of recorded music I had ever heard in my young life. They went on to soundtrack my first year at university. I was 17 at my first Mint Chicks show; I got into the first few shows through lax security with a hand-me-down learner's license. I must have seen the band play four or five times in 2004; at Ward Lane in Hamilton, then Happy and Bodega in Wellington, usually for a $5 cover charge.

I wanted to commemorate the ten-year mark for the EP somehow, so I asked the band, their peers and their followers to reminisce a little, and they kindly obliged.


Michael Logie (The Mint Chicks, Die! Die! Die!): I met Paul at Orewa College (in 1997?) and we started playing music together in the 5th form when we were recruited by some 7th formers to be in their Rockquest band. During that time I think I met Kody in P.E class and we became friends and started jamming here and there. Kody was making really great trip-hop music on this sampling keyboard, and Ruban was just starting guitar I think. About a year later Kody and Paul and I and some other friends formed a band and that was the first of a few different bands I was in with those guys.

Paul Roper (The Mint Chicks, Blouse): I met Kody when I was 14 at high school. We were in music class together and I asked him to join the jazz ensemble. I was a classically trained violinist who’d just started playing drums that year. Mike was in our year too, he was quite a cool guy. I was a nerd and he used to make fun of me. He never really stopped …haha. I met Ruban when he climbed in the back window at a jazz ensemble rehearsal when the tutor wasn’t around. Kody showed me 'Headhunters' by Herbie Hancock. It blew my (classically-trained-violinist) mind.

Kody Nielson (The Mint Chicks, Opossom): I remember playing pretty much every night, and sometimes several shows a night.

Michael Logie: It's hard to remember those times properly, it all blurs together. I was studying audio engineering and really into making electronica. Kody was doing all sorts of cool stuff, some electronic music and some kind of Beatles-ish sounding stuff... for a little while Kody, Ruban and I tried to do that live, maybe 2000-2001, then at some point after that I remember Kody saying we are going to start a band called the Mint Chicks with him on vocals, Ruban on guitar, Paul on drums and me on the bass. Around that time I think he had done a demo for 'Fat Gut Strut' (with an 'I Am the Walrus' feel), ‘Telephone’ (which ended up being released on Screens) and 'Silver Homeless Man' (which was also a more Beatles-sounding version) and we just tried to all learn them as a band. We started playing all the songs faster and that pretty much was how it started.

Paul Roper: I remember playing a lot of shows. I remember being stoked to travel, and to meet other bands. I remember there was a buzz around our band, which was exciting. I feel like we played with anyone and everyone we could. I would not do it justice by trying to recall who we played with; I mainly just remember trying to be more impressive than whoever we were opening for.

Ruban Nielson (The Mint Chicks, Unknown Mortal Orchestra): I remember Caryard Chaos, which used to happen at this flat that was once the site of a car dealership on New North Road. It was a regular punk house party. Kody did a backflip off the drum kit. I remember playing a lot of shows around Auckland. We'd play three shows in one night if we could. Just play and then chuck all the gear in a car and just drive as fast as we could to the next one.

I remember playing at this karaoke bar above St Kevin's Arcade with the Pussies and it turned into a riot and there was footage of cops beating people up on Nightline. There was no money in it or anything. We just wanted to be that band. The wisdom at the time was to play as few times as possible so that each show would be 'an event' - but we were also determined that we could create three events every week and besides we didn't care if anyone came or not. We'd play the most intense show possible to whoever was there. We'd talk about how cool it'd be to put a record out on Flying Nun and then one day they just called me up out of nowhere and said they'd want to do just that. Then we were on tour with the White Stripes in Australia and releasing Octagon, Octagon, Octagon and making music videos but we'd still continue to play house shows and everything.

It took me a while to adjust to the murky interior - The Zone (Wanganui bar) was painted black; posters advertising Export Gold and Jim Bean were tacked to the walls. Kody sat at a small round table, also black, eyes narrowing as he drew on a roll-your-own.

"How's it?" he said, expelling smoke.

We talked about the group's influences: James Brown, Fugazi, International Noise Conspiracy, At The Drive-In. I'd heard he backflipped off the drumkit during shows. He shrugged. "Sometimes," he said.

They played about seven or eight songs in all, mostly from their EP. Somewhere in there was the frenetic, brilliant single 'Licking Letters'. Strobes flared and stuttered. The sound was galloping, disjointed, melodic. Kody worked himself into an Iggy Pop-like frenzy, writhing on the floor, hurling himself off the drumkit, wrapping the mic cord around his neck. Ruban's fret-hand splayed and spriunted. At various points he climbed up on his amp and flung his guitar around his body, on its strap, like a matador's cape. Corrugations of feedback hung in the air. Not wanting to get in the way, bassist Michael Logie tussled unobtrusiviely with his Rickenbacker to one side.

Nobody attempted to dance. Twenty-four people came to see the Mint Chicks.

⁃                                        Neil Young, 'An Evening In Wanganui' – NZ Listener, 21/02/2004


Michael Logie: We played as many gigs as we could. Kody, Paul and i were all still living near Orewa and didn't really know any other bands so we just did whatever gigs came up. We used to play with all sorts of bands. There was a lot of garage rock like The Rock'n'roll Machine and Slavetrader. I'm sure we played a few with them, and then there were some punk bands like The Spoilers and some other Puppykiller Records associated bands we often played with.

When Octagon came out we did a nationwide tour with Die! Die! Die! which was really fun, and kind of weird because now I play with those guys. And after (or before??) that i think we toured with Whirlwind Heat and in Australia with the White Stripes.

Aidan Leong (So So Modern):I remember going to what I guess was one of the first Mint Chicks shows in Hamilton around the time they released Octagon Octagon Octagon. I was in high school at the time, and biked into town with my brother's passport. The intensity and tightness of their set really hit hard against my pubescent perception of live bands. And I thought it was pretty badass to climb up walls and through the windows over the bogan bouncer trying to pull him down.

Paul Roper: I was very naive in the early days and I was keen on the band being commercially successful in a short length of time. The shows were all really cool, but I was getting up early to go to Architecture school lectures, and working 3 part-time jobs so I didn’t “hang out” much early on. I was also a devout Christian at the time, so I didn’t drink or do drugs. It was kind of a business thing for me, I treated it almost an investment. I remember one day I was in the design studio at Architecture School and I got a call that we were going to Australia to support the White Stripes. A handful of people overheard from the next booth over. I felt pretty cool.

Alex Backhouse (Dial, Society): I was 17 in February 2004 when the Mint Chicks played Altitude in Hamilton with Die! Die! Die! I remember buying the Blue Team Go! 7" from Kody at the merch table then promptly leaving, making no attempt to get into the show itself as I was underage. I seem to remember this causing minor confusion, since I was the first person to show up that night.

They climbed on this, bashed into that, put their foot on their band mates - all of the while never missing a beat, a riff, or a yelp. All very entertaining stuff to watch but rather boring to listen to. Their noise is not art, it's just noise, and that may be fun to play, but it's less fun for an audience.                  

- Beat Magazine, a Melbourne street publication – reviewing the Mint Chicks in 2003

Kody Nielson: We made the songs in my Dad's lounge.

Ruban Nielson: My Dad's uncle passed away and left my Dad a bit of money. He bought Protools and we started messing around with it in his bedroom. Kody got particularly good at it quite quickly. We'd been messing around with Dad's four track and sequencer and all these things for years but Protools was so next level. All of a sudden it felt like we could make real records. We were messing around on it all the time. Octagon was just a collection of these songs that we thought people might be most into. We didn't really know what a demo was. Even today I don't really know what one is. I've never released a record that was recorded in a studio.

Kody Nielson: I think we always intended on releasing it, although some of it was recorded before we were signed.

“Instinctively, I make myself smaller, folding my arms in front of my body and pulling my head into my shoulders. My teeth vibrate, my bones are buzzing, my ears ache. Kody sings at the wall, twiddling knobs  on the analogue delay unit which creates an echo and changes the tone and speed of his voice. Unlike his strenuous live performances, he is fairly still. During breaks, he gulps Coke, takes hits from his inhaler, and suggests songs.”

-  Eleanor Black, “Little Punks”. New Zealand Herald, 20 September 2003

Michael Logie: I haven't listened to the EP in years and I don't have a copy of it at my house. I tried to download it illegally recently, but I couldn't find a torrent for it online (laughs). But I think I used to like "Octagon Octagon Octagon" the song, that was always fun to play. I think "Licking Letters" and "Post No Bills" are pretty much the original demos Kody made; we ended up re-recording "Licking Letters" on our first album because the version on Octagon was significantly slower than how we played it live

Ruban Nielson: I think these days I probably like “Double Helix” the most. The last track. The instrumental one. I think it might have been the only one where everyone played their allocated instrument, with Kody on keys instead of vocals. The other songs we played so often I find it hard to really know what they sound like. Does that make sense?

Paul Roper: I really enjoyed playing “Post No Bills” and “Licking Letters” because I got to shred on the drums. I guess though I’d have to say “Double Helix” was my favorite on Octagon, as it’s the only Mint Chicks song that I ever got a writing credit on. Ha!

Matt Scheurich (MC Stormtrooper, Bow Arrow): I was browsing Sounds in Chartwell and found Octagon, Octagon, Octagon on CD and was really compelled by the cover art and bought it. I subsequently bought as many of their releases as I could. I had a pretty neat, almost complete discography: the Anti Tiger 10" was a highlight with its hand-drawn cover, the Anti-Tiger blue 7" EP another favourite, and Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! was amazing in general, one of the best NZ music albums ever. Octagon, Octagon, Octagon was always my favourite though, especially with the inside booklet art with the crazy surreal crystal imagery.

Ruban Nielson: The artwork was kind of just an example of what I'd been doing at Elam. I had this idea that all the artwork could be like that and people would always know it was us. The artwork was very much in the same spirit as the music I think. It felt related. Just a burst of energy. I felt like it tied us to the Flying Nun history too. We thought of ourselves as the modern version of a traditional thing. I do remember feeling like we stood out a lot. Whether it was a good or a bad thing we hadn't considered at that time. I guess it's turned out to be a good thing.

Kody Nielson: I still like Octagon. I'm proud of everything we released. It all sounds like the Mint Chicks.

Luke McPake (This Night Creeps): I remember the first time I saw them at a Kings Arms Show Ruban was playing clean guitar, which was so unusual then. But every time after that my impression was just how fucking heavy they were, the sound was so thick. So when I heard the Octagon record it seemed to be a lot thinner, the production seemed like more of an English sound, like English post-punk.

Michael Logie: Octagon sounds like us trying to do something "Fugazi-ish" to me these days, even though I know there was a lot of other stuff we were thinking about at the time.... and I guess as the band progressed Kody and Ruban got better at songwriting and there was more opportunity and ability to add elements of different styles of music that we had always wanted to add.

Paul Roper: Once the record was out, the main thing I went through was a steep learning curve, which lasted a number of years. We were somewhat rudely introduced to an array of legal pitfalls.

““(Festival Mushroom) managing director Mark “Ash” Ashbridge, wearing de rigeur distressed jeans and a messy hairstyle, strolls in with a coffee. He rubs his eyes and slaps a pink plastic folder containing two copies of the contract and tow pens on the table.

(A&R rep) Ashley Page perks up. “It’s just the beginning for us,” he says to no one in particular. “Now we can get on with it.”

Ashbridge explains the procedure. “You have to initial on the cover page, and then sign at the end.”

Kody, 21, the lead singer, and Ruban, 23, who plays lead guitar and does back-up vocals, grab pens before the rest of the band, drummer Paul Roper, 20 and bass guitar player Michael Logie, 24, have even made it up the steps and into the building. The brothers ask for clarification on where to put the marks, but their lawyer, Chris Hocquard, has already combed this, the fourth version of the contract, and approved it.

“So we don’t own ourselves any more,” sighs Ruban, with a weak smile. The other Chicks are silent.

“I feel like an ogre today, it’s terrible,” says Ashbridge, laughing. “We’re not that bad. We’re independent.” Page claps his hands. “Exciting,” he says.”

- Eleanor Black, “Little Punks”. New Zealand Herald, 20 September 2003

Paul Roper: The deal we signed in 2003 was the one that ultimately prevented us from releasing Screens on Fat Possum in 2009.

Michael Logie: It was a really exciting time for us, and I guess it was a change because we had to do a lot of stuff that we hadn't done before - like getting a manager and doing music videos and interviews and that sort of thing. I remember being allowed to go through The Warehouse and grab whatever CDs we wanted, that was cool.

Ruban Nielson: I don't really remember that kind of stuff. We were so focused on making more recordings and playing shows that we never really took the time to appreciate that the band was getting popular. We were so caught up in it. I don't remember feeling different playing at the Masonic Tavern in Devonport to 30 people or playing to 10,000 people at Rhythm and Vines. It was a very weird band like that.

Kimbra Johnson (Kimbra): I remember the first time I heard the Mint Chicks: it all started with the EP Octagon Octagon Octagon which I bought after hearing 'Post No Bills' on a mix CD my friend made for me in high school. I was so taken by the abandon and chaos, there was a strange soulfulness and catchiness to the melodies but it was jagged and explosive. I was hooked. Octagon Octagon Octagon became a soundtrack for my high school years, along with bands like At The Drive-In, The Blood Brothers and local bands like This Night Creeps and The New Caledonia (who now make up half of my own band!). They were a movement, they started something so contagious, but on top of that, they were damn good songwriters too.

Matt Scheurich: The Mint Chicks were an amazing combination of violence and beauty, in all the physical and emotional senses: teen angst expressionism, but more cultured, ironic and brazen than standard fare hardcore/punk expression, which to me is more about aping each other or overseas bands/cultures than really trying to do something truly dynamic and disruptive.

Of everything around at that time, This Night Creeps were in the same field as the Mint Chicks and those two bands combined were a guaranteed good show. I was definitely needing an attitude-elixir like that, to help me break out of my own repressive conditioning -- an example to inspire death and creation in myself, like Ouroburos eating itself to sustain itself. It all started when I bought Octagon Octagon Octagon on CD.

Paul Roper: The other guys all have really good musical taste. I came from a classical background, so all I really knew about was Vivaldi and Bach. I was constantly trying to keep up with the music the other guys were listening to, and they introduced me to a lot of great music, including early punk and hardcore recordings. I feel like the early songs were an essential part of the evolution of the bands sound, but ultimately were indicative of a transitional or incubational phase.

Alex Backhouse: They were the first local band that held any glamour and mystique for me. They weren't part of any scene and seemed to have created their own world. They had a thing for big obnoxious gestures, and a lot of people resented them for it - but I struggle to think of any band since that has been as vitalising in their own time. They opened up an area where punk was a springboard for other ideas, rather than just a terse macho ritual for emotional cripples.

Paul Roper: There was a lot of complicated tension between Ruban and Kody. Michael and I were often on the sidelines of a seemingly pointless argument. Mike was pretty good (much better than I) at talking to the Nielson brothers in these situations, and often managed to sway the conversation to a resolution. I used to tag along with Mike’s angle so we could get back to playing music. I remember going to a conflict resolution seminar to learn how to make things run smoother. It was a bit of a lost cause though, I think.

Kody Nielson: I don't think it was about tension, It was more about release. I don't think it was about antagonism either. It was fun.

Michael Logie: I don't think there were many arguments within the group around the time of Octagon, my memory of it is it was mostly just fun and weird. There would've been things with other bands and drunk people at gigs and all that stuff, but that is just how it was. I remember going to other cities in NZ for the first time and people being like "ahh, so the this is the new Auckland band" and I guess we would sometimes feed on that and maybe try and weird them out or something. It wasn't like we were trying to put across an antagonistic vibe or anything though, that would've just been a natural reaction to any opposition we encountered.

Kody Nielson: We were never trying to piss anyone off. We were just making music for people to enjoy.

Paul Roper: I would say that sometimes we were trying to piss people off. The stuff that we did seemed to polarise audiences, which at first I didn’t like, and didn’t understand. Later I came to recognise this polarisation as an indication we were on the right track. There were times when we felt like we were being taken advantage of, or criticised unjustly. Sometimes it was premeditated (eg: the chainsaw at the Big Day Out in 2005), other times it might have been simply retaliation to a heckle.

Nick Johnston (Cut Off Your Hands): They were doing a series of show at the Elbow Room, which is on Durham Lane, just a bizarre venue. It was a tiny space, up some stairs where you might have your 21st and the band would set up in the corner. It was kind of like they were doing a residency, with Pussy Glitch playing as well. It was aggressive and really fucking abrasive: you would walk into this space and be hit with these sharp sounds like Kody's voice.

Paul Roper: The intent behind the live shows was to offer something interesting; something different to the static, boring stage shows that we were used to seeing. It was a new approach to playing drums for me, so it was challenging and exciting. Up until that point I had been studying jazz drumming, and to me playing the drums meant playing with a light, sensitive touch. I really had to bust my chops to get to a point where I could play like I was in a punk band, and after every show I left the stage sweating as much as any one of us.

Ruban Nielson: We just had that much energy. We were kids. When we started we were between 19-22, so anything less would have been a lie I suppose. We genuinely just got so excited to play that music and things got more carried away than we even thought they would. That's why I felt a bit disillusioned and needed to leave the band later on. I felt like we were starting to imitate ourselves in the live shows. We were best when we were putting out this huge amount of energy and when we were just kind of pure honesty, but if you listen to the later recordings you can tell there are a lot of new ideas coming in and a lot of them are outside of that kind of four piece punk band thing. Being the age I am now, I have different powers I guess. Playing that music that was so honest then would be a lie now. So everything changes and that's how it should be.

Michael Logie: We just tried to be a band that we would be excited to see and hear. At that time the only NZ rock bands I knew of and liked were garage rock bands, and some Auckland punk bands, there weren't any bands that we knew of that put all of our favourite sounds together.

Kimbra Johnson: The first time I saw them play was at the Yellow Submarine on Ward Street in Hamilton. They had set up two stages, and Shaky Hands (before they were Cut Off Your Hands) were playing on one stage while the Mint Chicks screamed from the other end of the venue. The excitement was amazing and I remember how electrifying they were to watch. There was something other-worldly about their whole stage presence, something wild and dangerous, you never knew what was going to happen next. This is what live music is about. The recklessness, spontaneity and the sweat.

Paul Roper: I dropped a lotta cheese on drum equipment, mostly on cymbals that pleased my jazz-toned aural palate. Kody smashed a few of them by swinging his microphone at them. I broke most of them through sheer repetitive hitting with a stick. One time my bass drum cracked in two places after Kody jumped off of it. Stuff got thrown around a bit too, but usually would it would be fine afterward. Drum equipment is pretty sturdy gear, and I quickly learned not to treasure it for its cosmetic appearance. Drums are tools, not souvenirs.

Ruban Nielson: I think my standards are even higher now than they were then, but it's not enough to be dissatisfied and consider yourself a person of 'high standards'. Anybody can do that. That's like the worst thing ever. If you want to throw the things you're dissatisfied with into relief you have to actually do something. Or actually make something. Talk is cheap. I mean me and Kody were the queen bitches. We'd talk shit on everything and argue about everything, but we were also working really hard and being super productive too, so there was something in the real world to represent what we thought. As for the audience, we never abstracted them or underestimated them. We realised early on that our real fans were more often creators, not consumers, and that we were having a conversation with people about what its like to try and be creative and give yourself a reason to live in New Zealand with all its problems – the high suicide rate, addiction, brain drain, tall poppy syndrome, colonial racism and all of the rest of it.

Paul Roper: I think it was mostly about being a good band. We wanted to be a tight, impressive live act. We rehearsed regularly, and we worked hard at those rehearsals (only recently have I been in bands where people treat it like more like a hobby). It was work for us, and sometimes it was hard work. If something wasn’t sounding right, we would play it over and over again until it was. I think the discipline paid dividends. The songs, the sound of our instruments, the stage production (lighting, stage setup); whenever we could control it, we did. On top of that, I always aspired to be as good a drummer as I could be.

Michael Logie: I would say that there was definitely a desire to make something that properly harnessed all of our abilities. I think as long as we thought whatever it was we were doing was really exciting and on the edge of our ability then we were happy. I guess if you are interested in doing music full time you shouldn't really have anything other than high standards for yourself though, right? I'm not interested in making music that doesn't move forward in some way. I'm not really into music that is dumbed down.

Kimbra Johnson:  As I follow the various and amazing projects that Ruban & Kody have gone on to pursue (and being lucky enough to now have shared many festival stages with them!), I am still taken back to that little Hamilton venue all those years ago when a wide eyed 15-year-old would let loose to their crazy riffs and smash “Fat Gut Strut” super loud from my stereo when I was supposed to be doing homework. They put the innovation into punk, and the angular into pop - they broke the rules, made their own, and sometimes used a chainsaw to do it. To this day they are still my favourite band to come out of NZ and some of the most talented, sweetest guys I've met.

Ruban Nielson: (Asked why could Hamilton never sustain a half decent venue): Such a good question. I don't know. I think it's because Hamilton breeds some interesting people but at some point many of them leave to go and find their fortune, and that means there's only a few people constantly there to keep the flame alive. It's funny to think about it now, but I was hanging out with Kimbra in LA in this fancy studio she's mixing her album in and she was talking about being 15 and sneaking into the Yellow Submarine. This Night Creeps, The New Caledonia (who are now basically Kimbra's band), the Mint Chicks and all these bands would play there. A lot of those people are overseas now and doing well but not many are in Hamilton. It's up to the kids to make their own fun.

Kieran Clarkin: It's difficult to overstate the impact and influence the Mint Chicks had. They worked without the hype/backlash cycle attendant to most new NZ musical acts in 2013. They were too weird to enjoy the nationalism exploited to get Baby Boomers buying extra CDs in May. They didn't make it easy to be a casual fan - you were basically on Team MC or not. Octagon, Octagon, Octagon is explosive, succinct and retains some freshness after ten years. The real secret though, is that after a few listens you start to hear it whispering its subliminal message: "Hey kid, listen. We did this, it was fun. Don't worry about all that other stuff. You can do it too."