Mutoid Man are about to hit Ireland running this month with a selection of dates including Cyprus Avenue on the 14th. Mike McGrath-Bryan catches up with singer/guitarist Stephen Brodsky.
Few bands are as iconic, as important, and as often-imitated in hardcore as Converge, the Salem, Massachussetts-based pioneers that welded metal and hardcore together in increasingly violent and dissonant fashion throughout the ’90s, through to 2013’s ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’. Frantic, demanding and visceral, the band is firmly entrenched in the genre’s DNA. Less nightmarish and more strident, post-hardcore band Cave In, also from Mass., established themselves in the early ’00s after several line-up changes before cementing a more alternative-friendly sound.
Any fusion of the two was bound to be potent, but Mutoid Man, partially comprised of Cave In’s Steve Brodsky and Converge’s Ben Koller is no mere side-project curio, it’s a beast of its own. Yet Mutoid Man are often referred to, somewhat eye-roll-inducingly, as a supergroup. What does Stephen make of the tag? “We’re fine with it! Slightly better than ‘poopergroup’. Seriously though, we can’t control what people say & write about us, so we just stay focused on writing big riffs & playing banger shows.”
Was the band’s pedigree a key to selling labels and other industry types on the merits of Mutoid Man? “On the day of our first show in LA, we spammed the hell out of Sargent House until their email system crashed… which means we basically forced Cathy out of her office to come see us play. Sargent House now uses Mutoid Man-generated profit to invest in top-notch firewall protection, so don’t even bother trying this tactic with your own band.”
Indeed, Mutoid Man have released their second album ‘Bleeder’ on internationally-respected independent label Sargent House. One listen to album standout ‘Bridgeburner’ should make the MO clear, a molten slab of classic riffs married to naildriver drums and snarling punk attitude that sets the tone, but the record itself vacillates between classic rock swagger and Cro-Mags-inspired aggression over ten tracks, recorded at Converge member Kurt Ballou’s GodCity studios in Salem, MA. What was the experience like? “Nick baked Kurt vegan cookies all day while tracking his bass in the studio kitchen. Ben actually mixed the cookie-batter with his drumsticks to sweeten the drum tone. And I choked on a splinter and had to be rushed to the hospital right after finishing vocals. Those cookies were good.”
The Sargent House connection is an important one. As well as the label’s European operations being based in Dublin, after absorbing the infrastructure and distribution of the former Richter Collective, Mutoid Man’s labelmates No Spill Blood, fronted by Corkman Matt Hedigan (formerly of Elk and Hooray for Humans) will be joining them on this upcoming Irish jaunt. Beginning as a side-project itself to the dearly-departed Adebisi Shank, the power trio quickly took off, setting about establishing themselves as a force in their own right. “We’re pretty thrilled to play with both No Spill Blood – a rad band that has Sargent House connections – & 7.5 Tonnes Of Beard”.
Coming to Ireland, many of their influences have emerged from, the question of favourite Irish albums and artists quickly arises. “Thin Lizzy, without question. It’s hard to find a Phil Lynott lyric or vocal delivery that I disbelieve. Also Rory Gallagher’s “Top Priority” album gets many spins at home.”
With the new album out and touring underway, what next for the erstwhile power-trio? “Shortly after Europe, we’ll hit Texas for Fun Fun Fun Fest. We’re always looking for a reason to escape winters here in the northeast US… which means dreaming of crashing the Sargent House farm in California to write and maybe record some new material. Either way, the prospect of writing new songs is very appealing. And we’ll tour wherever we’re truly wanted.”