Spearmint (band)

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Origin London, England
Genres Indie pop
Years active 1995–present
Labels hitBack
Members Shirley Lee
Simon Calnan
James Parsons
Ronan Larvor
Andy Lewis
Past members Martin Talbot
Dickon Edwards

Spearmint are a London-based indie pop band, founded in 1995. Their founding members were Shirley Lee (lead vocals, guitar), Simon Calnan (vocals, keyboards), Martin Talbot (bass), and Ronan Larvor (drums). Talbot left soon afterward, to be replaced by James Parsons. Dickon Edwards later ended up joining as second guitarist, though leaving in 2000 to form Fosca. Parsons then took over second guitar duties, with Andy Lewis joining on bass.


Shirley Lee (usually referred to in the press as Mr. Shirley Lee to clear up the ambiguous gender of his name) had been a member of Laverne & Shirlie before uniting the members of Spearmint in the southeast of London in 1995. In the band he sang and played guitar while Simon Calnan played keyboard and provided backing vocals, Ronan Larvor played drums, and Martin Talbot played bass. Forming their own label called hitBack, they released their earliest songs as vinyl white labels. When bass player Talbot left, they found his replacement, James Parsons, through a classified ad placed in the magazine Melody Maker. Parsons was also a graphic artist, and he went on to design the album covers and sleeves for the rest of the band's career.

Work on their ambitious first album took three years, and in 1998, before they had finished it, several of their early singles became surprisingly popular in Japan. Taking advantage of the moment, they compiled their earlier material together instead and released this as their debut album, "Songs for the Colour Yellow", before heading out on a tour of Japan. In 1999 they released "A Week Away", the album that they had planned to debut with. A concept album about a weeklong holiday representing the sum of a person's life, it proved less popular overseas but earned them fans within Britain.

After the lengthy process of recording "A Week Away", they recorded the mini-album "Oklahoma!" much faster. "Oklahoma!" was another concept album, with each song about how a different inhabitant of the same town spent Christmas Eve. Released in 2001, the full-length "A Different Lifetime" had a looser concept, telling the story of a relationship and breakup. During its recording they realized that an extra guitarist was needed to get the sound they were after and briefly hired Dickon Edwards. Bass player Parsons, who had played guitar in his previous band, Supersaurus, decided to take over from Edwards, and Andy Lewis was brought in to replace him on bass. "A Different Lifetime's" recording was expensive and too many copies were printed, resulting in a loss for the band. In 2003 they released "My Missing Days", which featured radio DJ Samanthi singing on several of the tracks. She had met and befriended the bandmembers while interviewing them about the release of "A Week Away".

Subsequently, Spearmint assembled all of their B-sides with an eye toward fitting them together on an album, inspired by the success of their first compilation. That B-side collection, "A Leopard and Other Stories", was released in 2004. The next year the group toured Germany, performing acoustically, and "The Boy and the Girl That Got Away", a limited-edition album of songs written specifically for the tour, was released. Their next release was another concept album, "Paris in a Bottle", and was based on an experience Lee had while busking in Paris and spending the day with two French girls. He tracked down one of the girls to retell the story from her point of view on one of the songs while he presented his side on another. After "Paris in a Bottle", Spearmint went on hiatus so that Lee could work on his solo album. All the members of the band appeared on that album, and following its release in 2009 they immediately began working together as Spearmint again. In 2014 the band released "News from Nowhere", a more political album than any of their previous releases including songs about animal rights, the environment and vegetarianism.

The band were referenced in the film (500) Days of Summer wherein Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character states “It pains me we live in a world where nobody's heard of Spearmint.”[1]



  • Songs for the Colour Yellow (1998) (Compilation)
  • A Week Away (1999)
  • Oklahoma (2000)
  • A Different Lifetime (2001)
  • My Missing Days (2003)
  • A Leopard and Other Stories (2004) (Compilation)
  • The Boy and the Girl That Got Away (2005)
  • Paris in a Bottle (2006)
  • News from Nowhere (2014)


  1. ^ "(500) Days of Summer, ICA Gig, Germany here we come!". Shirley Lee. 2009-09-10. Retrieved 2014-05-16. 

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