Walking by an overpopulation of clubbers, psychic readings, strip clubs, and architecture that boasted New Orleans-like charm, the pulsating streets and warm breezes of Ybor City in Tampa, Florida gave way for an experience that was truly out of the box. I sat down in the tour bus with Mute Math frontman Paul Meany and the ever talented drum-attacker, Darren King, to talk about their newfound direction and the relief of letting marketing chase its own tail for a change.
The band had just made their national television debut on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, an odd departure for fans used to seeing them at Creation Festival or beside Amy Grant in a Christianity Today feature. "It was an adrenaline rush, very surreal, they tried to help us calm our nerves," said Meany. The philosophy of the band that Meany and King began with is coming full circle after their sign with Teleprompt Records. Meany continued by saying, "When we started Mute Math we wanted to make music that never alienated any audience and would keep our music universal so it related to all human beings. It's been educational this past couple of years to watch how marketing happens, especially in the Christian market, and I think we've found that it's not the fit for us."
Mute Math's dispute to keep the band about the music alone occurred when they began to notice they were being pigeon-holed by Hollywood just because of what label they were on. Meany is cautious though to let fans know that he's still for the Christian community, "I want to be clear, I think it can be misread as we hate the Christian community and we're going to [go off] and do something cool, and that's not it at all. We're part of the Christian community and love those guys, they're the main supporters of what we do and we're thankful for that. We just hope to, if anything, challenge the box that Christians are forced to create or how it got set up or why it's there, and that what we do can just change the way music has to be sold."
Later in the interview, Meany said something that wouldn't cause most rock journalists to blink an eye, but it was profound in the amount of grace he was asking for and was being given in his quest to bridge the gap between the growing Mute Math audiences. I think it's exhilarating when we finish a song [at a show] and on one side of the audience you hear a "Hallelujah!" and on the other side you hear a "[bleep] yeah!" I think when that's happening then we're doing our job. That's what we're setting out to do, watch those audiences come together and relate to what we're doing."
After King finished uncovering his ears from Meany's comment with a "You said it, not me!" expression he went into an alphabetical list of all the bands that inspire them. A few of the bands that both Meany and King agreed upon were Black Mountain, Caribou, Bjork, Franz Ferdinand and both also got excited about Canadian bands making headway around the globe, such as New Pornographers, Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, "there's a lot of great stuff coming out of Canadia," gushed King. Meany mentioned about just having come back from playing in Saskatchewan and that he was interested in hitting up Canada again in the future, "We're going to be on a leg of the Warped Tour and later in the year we'll do some sort of tour, we're just aiming for a little more exposure out there. Enter, Soul Shine.
Meany also wants to bring Mute Math to Eastern Europe and prisons to get music in the streets of Mongolia, Russia, and India, "[Places] where they don't bring concerts and to be able to do some charity concerts for them and for prisons." King smiled and added, "First we need to get some prison cred."
With all joking aside, when asked what they hoped to bring to their generation through their music, Meany paused and said, "I want to make it hard for people to be hopeless. I think if you listen to our songs that's the common thread and has the spirit we hope we can achieve for albums to come."
To find out more about Mute Math and listen to a few songs from their debut LP visit: www.mutemath.com.
Writer: Lindsay Whitfield