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Friday August 22nd 2014

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MuteMath: New Orleans’ Elusive Artists Next Door

By Josh Encinias

MuteMath likes pairing words that have zero association. Take their name, MuteMath. We’re still not sure what it means. But dig further back and you’ll find the names of their old bands were Earthsuit and Macrostick. Today, the band’s preparing their newest album, another mix of seemingly disparate terms, titled “OddSoul”.

MuteMath is a hard band to describe. You take one part New Orleans (check out their “Armistice” remix with the Rebirth Jazz Band), add in a keytar, and wrap it with what DeLuna Fest’s Clint Aull calls “stage energy unmatched by any punk rock band I’ve seen”, and you’ll have a snapshot of the band.

The band is as busy as ever with two local shows in Mobile and Pensacola, and their new record comes out in October.

University of Mobile welcomes the band to their New Student Orientation Week on Aug. 20. “OddSoul” comes out Oct. 4, then they’ll play on Pensacola Beach the weekend of October 14-16 for the second annual DeLuna Fest.

Trey Taulbee, the campus activities coordinator for the University of Mobile, heard about the band around the time they released the “Rest EP” in 2004. He said every year the college takes student requests for bands during New Student Orientation. For four years MuteMath was one of the most requested bands.

“I think they’re incredible musicians, and Paul Meany is a great lyricist. For us to have them for our students is very special,” said Taulbee. “I’ve seen them three times, and I loved every show… it was worth everything I paid.”

In “OddSoul” the band layers R&B rock into their electronic soul. The rhythm section on the track “Blood Pressure” grooves steadily over Meany’s multi-part harmony. That’s until the chorus, when Darren King (MuteMath’s drummer, infamous for raucous live performances) fills out the groove with a quick tom-tom beat along with the bass’ bleating thumps. They make resurgent R&B rock (think Black Keys) danceable. This is due in part to Meany’s keytar.

The keytar is the redheaded stepchild of popular music. Devo introduced it in the 1980s. Many high-profile bands use it, including No Doubt. But the instrument is more akin to Weird Al-joke music than traditional rock acts. And that’s why MuteMath has no problem using it, because MuteMath is not your traditional rock band. But don’t expect them to acknowledge their status, or say how they make decisions. When asked by a reporter how Meany made the keytar cool again, he answered:

“I didn’t make [the keytar] “cool again”…I just simply recognized an already existing phenomenon. I can’t take credit for the beauty in the flowers and trees just because I opened my eyes to see it,” said Meany.

MuteMath would rather be poetic than give a serious interview. But it’s only to be expected. Look up “MuteMath interviews” on YouTube and you will find countless crap interviews with DJs and student reporters. Either you get on board with what MuteMath’s doing or get out of their way (that is, if you work in the media).

One way to grab MuteMath’s attention is to go on tour with them. Clint Aull toured with them a few years ago. He was working for The Listening, who opened for MuteMath on tour. Now Aull is working for DeLuna Fest as their Production Manager. When the festival team pitched bands, Aull knew exactly who he wanted to book.

“I saw MuteMath play their second show in Orlando, and I’ve seen them play better every show since. That’s impressive, because they were great when they played Pensacola in 2004,” said Aull.
It’s important for DeLuna Fest to bring in great artists. Last year, people flocked to the festival to see TK101 favorites Daughtry, 311, Stone Temple Pilots, and so on. In its second year, DeLuna Fest has aradically different line-up, an intentional move from the festival’s organizers.

We didn’t book bands that are more of a local radio station draw. If I wasn’t involved I’d be really stoked about the line-up: Weezer, Jane’s Addiction, CAKE,” said Aull. “These bands don’t play in this area. Jane’s Addiction hasn’t played the Southeast in 10 years, but we have them. Ten of our bands played Lollapalooza.”

But why change the line-up? Simple: “We want people to travel and spend money here. When we unveil our site map, people will find our stages are about 200 feet away from the New Holiday Inn Resort, next to the Hilton and Hampton. You can watch the concert from your balcony,” said Aull.

Aull also said DeLuna Fest’s organizers are trying to build something that’s more of a resort time. If that’s the case, then booking MuteMath makes perfect sense. They’re an international success who will draw people from all over the country to our beaches.

“I can tell you this. MuteMath is probably the most creative band in all aspects of what I’ve seen. Their recordings, videos, packaging, social media, all breathes creativity. They’re one of the most original bands out there now,” said Aull.

MUTEMATH AT DELUNA FEST
WHEN: Oct. 13-16
WHERE: Pensacola Beach
COST: $149.95 General Admission Weekend Passes (in advance)
DETAILS: delunafest.com