MUTEMATH Embrace Change With New Album and Tour
MUTEMATH have earned quite the reputation for being one of the most unique bands in alt rock since the release of their self-titled record in 2006. The band does an excellent job of meshing their music with elaborate stage sets during their live shows.
MUTEMATH are currently on tour in support of their third studio album, 'Odd Soul'. It's the first LP without original guitarist Greg Hill, who left the band in 2010. Drummer Darren King and bassist Roy Mitchell sat down with us to talk about the evolution of the band and how the changes made them better.
I saw you at Lollapalooza in 2010. When you guys play festivals, does it kind of suck during the daytime since you can't do the full light show and experience?
Darren: I still enjoy it. I love music festivals. Well, most music festivals.
Roy: It's definitely a different thing, but it has its moments where there's something special about it.
Darren: One of the best is the sunset slot. We've done that once or twice.
Roy: Except when the sun is really hot and setting on your eyes [laughs].
Any big difference between American music fans and overseas fans, especially at big festivals?
Darren: We've been to Japan quite a few times and there is a huge difference between the American audience and Japanese audience. To be honest with you, and this is going to suck, but they're perfect.
I'm Asian so I'm proud of that. You're not offending me.
Roy: It's like they're super excited. First of all, you get there and everyone has a gift for each of us.
Darren: They had Kit Kat bars with cartoon MUTEMATH on the wrapper.
Darren: Yes. They give you anime versions of us and they give you puzzles. When you put the puzzle together it's a picture of you. It's really sweet, I love it. They have MUTEMATH gum that they gave us. They draw us like Hello Kitty cats.
Roy: One thing that is a big difference is that you're not allowed to photo any of the shows so everyone is engaged. No one is texting or whatever and it's really interactive.
You guys released 'Odd Soul' last year. It took a slightly different direction, sort of bluesy. Did that just happen or was it predetermined?
Roy: It was definitely not a conscious decision. I think it was just all those subconscious elements from influences growing up. My dad played a lot of blues and showed me that, gospel music and all kinds of things that came through. We were by ourselves and we were isolated. There were no limitations and we felt liberated to do what came natural.
Roy, you had to pull double-duty because Greg Hill left. How was recording that record without him since he was in the band for so long?
Roy: It was liberating in a way. We just vibed off each other, reacted off the ideas we had. I was very comfortable with guitar. It was one of my first instruments anyways. It wasn’t a hindrance or mental block for me. It was actually the opposite. I felt like, "Wow, I get to explore this now and have fun."
Darren: It was sad to lose Greg. That sucked.
Was this a mutual decision? Why did he leave the band?
Darren: I think he got worn out. He left because he was done. At the same time we all felt weary but we were at different places. I miss him dearly.
Do you still keep in touch at least?
Darren: We don’t, and it’s sad to me because I’ve known him since I was 12. I feel like I can’t because all I do is the band. That’s what I talk about with people. I’m sure some day we’ll be able to be buddies and talk about the [New Orleans] Saints.
How much planning goes into your live shows? Is it as much as when you're writing records?
Darren: Yeah, it's pretty meticulously thought out and more. The thing that I'm happy that we did is, more than anything, we set out to make a record we would love to play live, and I think we did that. We wrote and recorded the songs at Paul's [Meany] house in New Orleans. It was imperative to us that we were going to love to play these songs live, and that's kind of where the blues part came from.
Looking back, was it pretty easy coming up with all the songs for the self-titled album?
Darren: The thing that was fun about it is that we've gone through a lot of disappointment and we did not mean to make a band. Paul and I thought it was going to be this production team like the Neptunes. That was actually the initial goal and we definitely thought it was going to be way more electronic. It just turned into this and it slowly became this thing and it felt good.
Just think, in an alternate reality you're making beats for Snoop Dogg.
Darren: Yeah, I know. That's depressing. That sounds awesome.
Listen to the entire interview on WGRD.com.
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