Photo by Tyler Woods.
Hoover High graduate Jake Wittig is the singer and guitarist for his band, The Burning Peppermints.
Being in a band isn’t supposed to be easy. At 18 years old, however, Jake Wittig has somehow found the secret.
Wittig started playing in bands with friends while at Hoover High School. One of those bands was called The Burning Peppermints, and it developed from two friends playing at open mic nights to a five-piece group that was one of the opening acts at Secret Stages 2015.
Getting in front of that kind of crowd is something Wittig has wanted for years.
“I definitely wanted it really bad,” Wittig said. “I wanted to get better and get in front of people, and I haven’t really let go of that.”
The Burning Peppermints include fellow 2015 HHS graduate Daniel Powers and senior Walker Scott. Ryan Colebeck and Ahmad Farzad round out the band, which is known for its “surf punk” style and the black suits the band wears on stage.
Farzad is the owner and producer at KJP Productions, a Birmingham recording studio, and was a fan of the Peppermints before he joined. In a video of an early gig at Bottletree, Wittig said you can see Farzad right at the front of the crowd, head bobbing in time to the music.
Having worked in recording for years, Farzad knows the Peppermints’ easy relationship and lack of drama is something special.
“I know how rare it is to find band members that not only are all on the same page musically, but are actually respectful human beings,” he said. “I’m personally proud of him [Wittig] because bands aren’t supposed to be easy, nothing’s supposed to be easy, but bands especially because it’s teamwork and an artistic effort.”
Though Wittig said the band’s music is a collaborative effort, Farzad said the 18-year-old is “the engine” of the band. They recently digitally released their album “Dirty Rainbow!!” and are working on another one to produce in 2016. Wittig said the Peppermints’ audience is growing because they are both energetic and professional, while making the music their top priority.
“We’re definitely concerned with making really good art, but also getting people to stop thinking they’re too cool to dance and get crazy at the show,” Wittig said.
Playing Secret Stages was a chaotic experience for the Peppermints. One band member was in a car accident that day, and their stage didn’t have power until five minutes before the show began. Once they got on stage, Wittig broke a guitar string on the first note of the first song. Despite the rocky start, the rest of their show was smooth and the crowd seemed to love it as much as the band.
With Secret Stages behind them, Wittig said the Peppermints want to focus on creating an out-of-state audience. The band was surprised to find people from California, Australia and Germany downloading their most recent album. It inspired them to begin looking at possibilities beyond Birmingham.
“I thought only people from Alabama would know about it or care about it,” Wittig said. “I feel like we’ve honed it enough, we’ve got to share it with the world.”
The Peppermints will be choosing their venues carefully, however. They want to make sure the people who hear their music are going to get excited about it. For the young band, it’s all about “making good art and sharing it with good people.”
“If you are in arts and not having fun, you are doing it wrong, for sure,” Farzad said.
To learn more, visit theburningpeppermints.bandcamp.com.