In Conversation With Mutemath

mutemath4.jpgThree years have passed since New Orleans alternative-rock/indie-rock band Mutemath made a big impression on fans and the public alike with their 2006 debut record.

Garnering some mainstream airplay for their single “Typical,” the band were road-hogs, taking their explosive live show to their own audiences while also opening for Matchbox 20 and Alanis Morissette.

Mutemath’s newest record Armistice finds the band exploring a more experimental side of making music. Or it could be their most commercially accessible record to date. It all depends on the listener’s perception, according to Mutemath vocalist Paul Meany.

“For every person who says our new record is more experimental than our debut was, someone else will say they find it to be more commercial,” Meany says from his home in New Orleans. “The only consistent feedback we are hearing is that people are hearing the record from a bunch of different perspectives and we think that’s great.

“It took us a little while but I think we were able to finally get something recorded that we were all vibe-ing off of. Whether it is a more commercial or more experimental side of us, we try not thinking about it … This record has uncovered the true soul of this band.”

Helping to shape the future of the band and the 12 songs on Armistice was the endless road work the band did to promote their debut record.

“We assumed that we would be making another record so we had been writing during sound checks and on the tour bus and ended up having a collection of 15 to 16 songs. But we came off the road and wound up not liking any of those songs.

“We had to get off the road, get in a whole new headspace and hope the songs would just come to us. That’s what this record became,” Meany says.

Prior to heading into the recording studio, Meany admits that ambition amongst the band members was at an all-time high but when they actually reached the studio, things got a little more complex.

“It was noble to think that we could sit down and make a great record but when we got in the studio, things changed. Every one of us in the band was hearing song ideas from different places which lead to differing opinions on where the songs were going to end up,” Meany notes. “We realized that we needed a producer to help mediate a lot of these ideas.”

Dennis Herring, producer of bands such as Counting Crows, The Hives, Modest Mouse and Elvis Costello, would step in and fill the role of producer for Armistice.

“Dennis wound up being the right guy for the record,” Meany admits. “He was of the mindset to forget about those 15 to 16 songs we had written on the road. And though it was hard to let go of those songs in a way, it really was the right decision to shelve those songs and start writing new … When it came to making the record, he encouraged us not to worry about the recording and production aspects of the record. He insisted we write and perform and nothing more and it ended up working really well.”

Having recently celebrated Armistice’s release in their hometown of New Orleans, the next step for the band is getting prepped to ensure their new material translates into the live setting as they will spend time in rehearsal.

“We want to ensure that our new songs are road-prepared before we start full-on touring in the fall. When we were recording, we weren’t thinking about how these songs would be taken live; we had immersed ourselves into making a record.”

“And in the thick of recording,” Meany continues, “I would often think ‘how can we pull this off live?’ But at the end of the day, we took the chances we needed to take for this record. What the band is dealing with now is uncharted waters in the sense that we are playing songs that are not road-tested … We will be trusting the chemistry that we had in the studio to translate these songs live.”

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