This isn’t your uncle’s goofy, balding, ’80s-loving, keytar-toting band.
Mute Math – comprised of Paul Meany on vocals and keys, guitarist Greg Hill, bassist Roy Mitchell-Cardenas and drummer Darren King – are shaking up the alternative rock music scene, with keytars in hand.
Their history epitomizes the indie genre. Dissatisfied with major record labels, Paul Meany and Darren King took matters into their own hands with help from producer and longtime friend Tedd T.
“The major labels gave us a bad taste in our mouths,” Meany said. “For us, it was all about having control of our music.”
After three years of burning the midnight oil, Teleprompt Records was born, with Mute Math as the primary artist.
“We were extremely fortunate for everyone who works so hard at Teleprompt,” Meany said.
Besides working from their own label, the band also channels their creativity through audio and video recordings released on the Internet. Their MySpace is a great place to get to know the band. Here, you can watch live performances and their must-see music video for “Typical.” Don’t let the name fool you, though; this song has a distinct flavor. The video is shot entirely in reverse, which is amazing considering that the song plays forward.
“We didn’t realize how hard it would be,” Meany said with a laugh. “It took hours of preparation to learn how to play ‘Typical’ backwards.”
Lyrics were sung backwards; chord progressions progressed backwards, and — most impressively – the drummer looks like he never misses a beat as he inverts the rhythm. It’s something that would impress Spike Jonze.
What became the final product looks absolutely amazing, especially at the very beginning of the video, where paint was splattered all over Paul Meany. As it appears, the paint is thrown from his body somewhere off-camera. This is a very cool effect, but something told me there was likely a mishap during filming.
“Well, I did get some paint in my eye during the test run,” Meany replied. “Also, we learned the hard way to start using non-toxic paint. I started feeling ill after the second take. We had to make another Home Depot run and start again tomorrow.”
All of this is just a day in the life of making music for Meany and company. His stage smashing antics cost him one of his several red keytars – he snapped the neck right off of one after performing “Typical” on Jimmy Kimmel Live. His keytar use started back when Mute Math was just a two-piece with Darren, as a practical solution to liven up the stage performance.
“You learn a lot about yourself as a man when you put on a keytar,” Meany said of his instrument. “It’s invigorating.”
What separates this band from other synth-heavy bands is the surrounding instrumentation. In the past, keytars were generally associated with electronica music, which unfortunately gives these hybrid synthesizers a bad rap. The great thing about Mute Math is that they cleverly involve several different sounds for any given part of a song. What comes out of the speakers is a rich soundscape; much more than electronica. The great guitar work of Greg Hill, foundational bass playing of Roy Mitchell-Cardenas, and the pulsating beats of drummer Darren King are the perfect compliment for the keyboarding and sampling performances found on Mute Math’s self-titled debut album.
Tracks such as the brief opener “Collapse,” bass-savvy “Obsolete” and closing instrumental “Reset” all evoke a unique feeling in the listener that has roots in many genres. “We are just trying to make something that we want to listen to,” mentioned Meany. “We want to make the best songs we know how, and a sound evolved out of that. It’s a feeling we get, after we’ve gone back and forth till the light goes out for the four of us. That’s when we have a Mute Math song.”
Mute Math will be performing at the Canopy Club on April 1 with Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin and Cinematics. Doors open at 5:30 for a 6:30 show, and tickets are $13 in advance. Check out the video for “Typical” at myspace.com/mutemath.