The alternative punk-pop group Walt Mink formed in the late '80s at Macalester College in Minnesota, with guitarist/vocalist John Kimbrough, bassist Candice Belanoff, and drummer Joey Waronker taking their name from a favorite psychology professor. Inspired by proto-punkster Jonathan Richman as well as English folky Nick Drake (whose "Pink Moon" the band covered on their first album), Walt Mink debuted in 1990 on a split 7" single (with Gneissmaker) for Skene! Records. After releasing two cassette-only albums -- Listen Little Man and The Poll Riders Win Again!! -- during 1990-1991, Walt Mink got the chance to play at the New Music Seminar in New York, due to their association with Babes in Toyland.
Thanks to positive reviews from the New York show, the band signed to Caroline Records. Their debut album, Miss Happiness, was released in 1992, with production help from Doug Olson. The LP did well in college radio, and Walt Mink toured with the Lemonheads, Soul Asylum, and Mudhoney during the rest of the year. The band self-produced their second album, Bareback Ride, and Caroline released it in 1993. Bareback Ride fared less well than the debut, but the major label Columbia signed Kimbrough, Belanoff, and Waronker anyway. Before Walt Mink could release any material, however, Columbia dropped them. Waronker decided to leave the band -- going on to work with Beck -- and Orestes Morfin (ex-Bitch Magnet) joined in his place. The label seesaw ride continued through 1994-1995, as Atlantic bought their contract and released El Producto in early 1996, but later dropped the trio as well. Morfin left the band soon after. After signing to the Deep Elm label, Walt Mink returned in 1997 with Colossus, but said their goodbyes one year later with a farewell live album. ~ John Bush