Mutemath makes a mess

Andrew Gaug

Some bands pride themselves on their ability to move forward and progress.

The eclectic band, a mix of electro, rock and new wave, recently gained their first hit with the video for their song, “Typical.”

The music video, similar to that of Pharcyde’s clip for “Drop” and Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” features the band destroying its instruments and being covered in paint and Post-Its, all while performing the song backwards.

It was a concept lead singer Paul Meany felt captured the band’s energy while being visually creative.

“Everyone had their parts down backwards,” he said. “(Originally), we were on a shoe-string budget. We thought ‘all right, we’re going to setup and play,’ then the idea got thrown ‘Hey what if we do it backwards?'”

“It’s nothing original,” Meany said. “But we really hadn’t seen it done as a band performing before.”

In what was advertised as the first “live” backwards performance, Mutemath recreated the video by performing it in reverse on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” last month.

Doing everything backward in front of an audience was confusing for spectators.

“The audience was quite perplexed,” he said. “Once it started, they were like ‘What the hell is happening?'”

The New Orleans quartet began four years ago as a keyboard and drums project between Meany and drummer Darren King. After adding guitarist Greg Hill, the band began touring behind its first release, Reset EP, in 2004. But the tour was not without its problems.

The band got wrapped up in controversy with its record label, Warner Bros. Records, over how the album should be distributed. Warner Bros. wanted the band’s albums to be sold via its Christian label, Word Records, while the band didn’t want to alienate any of its fans or cater to one audience.

In response, the band started touring and selling albums independently until the debacle was resolved.

“Necessity was definitely the intention,” Meany said. “We had no way to get our music outside of taking it directly to the people.”

The plan worked, as the band’s audience grew through constant touring, promoting via the Internet and word-of-mouth.

The time spent touring also allowed the band to figure out how it wanted to sound.

“We did our first official balls-to-the-wall tour in 2005,” he said. “During that time we kind of recorded ourselves on the road. We listened to what we were good at, what we sucked at. You learn a lot about yourselves listening to it live.”

The band’s tweaking of its sound, as well as emphatic energy, has helped keep them on the road the past three years, sometimes headlining and other times opening for bands such as The Fray and, for this tour, Eisley.

“(We played) Bonnaroo this year and it was absolutely insane,” he said. “I’m not even sure how many people were there, it just felt like the crowd kept going and going.”

This show at the House of Blues Cleveland will be a more intimate performance, but, Meany said, it’s not the size as much of the enthusiasm of the crowd.

“It’s nice to feel the energy of the crowds,” he said. “We’ve played gigantic crowds that have been completely lifeless, and we’ve played small crowds of 25 people that, if you close your eyes, sounded like a sell-out show.”

After playing on the road for three years, Meany said the band might take a break, but that could change in an instant.

“We’re in pretty actionary mode,” he said. “As interest pops up, we kind of make a detour to play for people.

“We’ll be hanging out and see what happens,” he said. “That’s what we’ve been doing for the three years. You never know what’s going to happen the next month until the current month is over.”

Contact all correspondent Andrew Gaug at [email protected].