A unique, fresh perspective on garage punk rock is currently on the rise in Birmingham.
The Burning Peppermints — Jake Wittig, Ahmad Farzad and Ryan Colebeck — recently performed at the Avondale Bar and Taproom, introducing their new alternative sound to Auburn.
Their music features a spin on a traditional punk rock sound, featuring psychedelic themes and lyrics. Despite their West Coast inspiration, the group hails from familiar Birmingham, Alabama.
The Burning Peppermints came from humble beginnings as a garage band consisting of some high school friends. Jake met the current members, Ryan and Ahmad, as they were helping the band record their first full-length album, Dirty Rainbow.
They got their start playing at open-mic nights and participating in songwriting competitions, hoping to climb the ladder to fame.
While the bulk of the band’s career has happened recently, Wittig admits it was a long struggle to get to their big break.
“It’s really hard for an artist at any age to try to get to know the right people,” he said.
Playing at open-mic nights, which were primarily for a softer, acoustic style, restricted the band from playing the “rough-and-tumble” genre that they thrived in.
Some venues even stopped them from bringing drums to the show, an obvious necessity for any rock band.
“I was really discouraged for a long time with things not moving forward for [us],” Wittig said. Despite these struggles, the group slowly formed their own distinct style of music and began to catch some attention.
The band released their first single, Tunnel Wizard, in 2014. Jake said the song was originally written for a contest to write an original, Birmingham-inspired song.
“The big thing that was happening at the time was that they had just installed the color tunnel,” he said, which is featured on the album cover art. “That was definitely the inspiration for that song.”
They then released Dirty Rainbow in 2016, under Fat Sandwich Records. The intro to the album, Ned Schneeblee, is their most popular hit to date.
“It just seems to be everybody’s favorite,” Wittig said. “It’s definitely high-energy.”
The group finally began to branch out when they were asked to perform at Secret Stages, an annual festival in Birmingham. This led to a succession of opportunities that brought their music to the public eye.
“We got to open for St. Paul & the Broken Bones a couple of times,” Wittig said. “From there, we got to play Slossfest. It was kind of all happening at once.”
They released their first official music video, Don’t Try To Lie To Me, in 2017.
The band shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. They are releasing their second album, Glitter Vomit, in May on High Dive Records.
Wittig understands how the band’s initial struggle has brought them to where they are now.
“My recommendation to any young artist is to just write songs for yourself and if you’re not having a good time, nobody else is going to," Wittig said.