Jimi Mini and the Miniatures did not mean to spark a music revolution. But neither did the Beatles.
It just turns out that the Alpharetta quartet's stunted growth and high-pitched, ADD delivery -- the natural effects of growing up in pea-soup Perimeter smog combined with a constant cocktail of asthma drugs -- has had a mop-top effect on the world: People are crazy for the Miniatures and their brand of rockin' mini-melodies.
To wit: The bitty boys have three Top 10 Internet-Clear Channel hits. And Rolling Stone-Clear Channel magazine proclaims the group the "instigators and elevators of the mini-movement."
In other words, Atlanta is celebrating its first white-boy (actually, they're sort of pale yellow, thanks to the smog) music sensation since the days before OutKast.
During a recent sold-out show at the Arthur Blank-Clear Channel Forum, this much was evident: The mini craze reached a mountain-sized climax. After waiting days to get in, thousands of relatively short fans screamed, sang, suffered asthma attacks, sucked on Albuterol and screamed some more -- all in the name of Miniature Mania.
One delirious fan was heard to proclaim, "These guys are huge!"
Figuratively, yes indeed. Literally, the Miniatures are small. Jimi Mini, the lead singer, stands 3 foot 6 inches. Guitarist Johnny Large barely tops 4 feet. Drummer Sam Small and bassist Tom Titanic claim they're both 4 foot 4 inches tall.
But it's this lack of height that helps make the Miniatures "the people's band," says Mini.
"I mean, you just look around and you see that we're not the only ones who are vertically challenged and have high-pitched voices," says Mini. "This generation of music lovers, we're all a stunted race; we're a product of the environmental disasters of previous generations. The Miniatures have simply done something positive with it. We've tapped into small energy."
And how. Mini's voice -- like someone high on helium after smoking 10 packs of cigarettes -- seethes with an environmental, lovelorn rage in scathing 50-second mini-songs like "Perimeter Whores," "I'm an Asthmatic in Love" and "Bomb the Trees." It's the perfect mix of delivery and message that has resulted in worldwide acclaim.
Like any band these days, success may be short-lived. But the Miniatures, for their part, are just having fun, says Mini. For instance, with their recent influx of Clear Channel funds they purchased a vintage 2003 Honda Odyssey for road trips around the South. A minivan for a mini-band.
"Dude, people laugh at us, but there's nothing mini about this vehicle. These vans are freaking huge. I need special apparatus to reach the pedals," says Mini. "My grandmother had one and to me, that's freaking hip. And it's got a DVD player! It's so retro! We pack in our miniature instruments and a pony keg, throw on an old DVD of short films, and we can survive an entire road trip through the Carolinas."
Next up for the Miniatures: An appearance on "The Usher-Clear Channel Show."
"Usher has totally supported us and now we're going to be on the world's most popular variety show," says Mini, shaking his head. "It's like a dream come true."
Why have the Miniatures enjoyed such startling success? Mini says it's because they've learned to embrace the traits that make them who they are.
"We used to hide inside all day, trying to escape the smog. My mother thought it would kill me," says Mini. "Well, maybe one day it will. But fuckin' A, man, you only live once. I'm smelling the smog and gassing the minivan."
And the world is going along for the ride.