plays an all-ages, sold-out show on Saturday,
Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. at the Vaudeville Mews. |
By Michael Swanger
Much has been written in the last seven years
about Mutemath's ascension in alt-rock circles,
including their 2007 Grammy nomination, Alternative
Press declaring them "The No. 1 band you
need to see live before you die" and the
commercial success of their second album, 2009's
"Armistice," which debuted at No.
3 on Billboard's Digital Albums and Alternative
Albums charts. But fans might be surprised what
motivates them on their highly anticipated and
aptly-titled album, "Odd Soul," due
on Oct. 4.
" 'Odd Soul' is about separating the good
from the bad in the way that we were raised,"
said drummer Darren King, a native of Springfield,
Mo. "We were raised in a charismatic, Christian
environment where we were dancing around blowing
ram's horns, waving banners, shouting and, thankfully,
hitting the drums as hard as you could.
"I was an intense Christian kid. I have
all these crazy stories about how I thought
I could heal the sick and walk up to strangers
and change their lives and win them over and
turn them into me. You have to have a lot of
gall to do that. This record is about the struggle
of coming to grip with the fact that certain
parts of that bother me, while other parts feel
like the truest thing I've known."
King, 29, says that growing up he was part of
the Word of Faith Movement, a "non-denominational
scene, more than anything." He says that
you weren't allowed to say the word "sick,"
instead, "you were getting healed."
"It got to the point where it was complete
reality denial," King said. "This
album documents us giving up certain parts of
Christianity, certainly, is at the heart of
Mutemath's popular alt-rock sound. Two of the
group's founding members, bassist Roy Mitchell-Cardenas
and singer Paul Meany, started with the Christian
rock band Earthsuit in New Orleans. Shortly
after their breakup, King began working with
Meany as the production team known as The Digitals,
which later became Math and helped produce Christian
music for TobyMac. When they recruited guitarist
Greg Hill, they changed their name to Mutemath,
before adding Mitchell-Cardenas to the lineup
"Growing up in that environment taught
us to be a good band because we learned a lot
about improvisation, and there was an acceptance
for expressing yourself. The more emotional
you got, the better the reaction you received,
especially if you were real and raw," King
Raw emotions are at the heart of Mutemath's
"Odd Soul." The group primarily wrote
and recorded the album at Meany's home studio
in New Orleans after the departure of Hill.
All three remaining band members chipped in
on guitar, though Mitchell-Cardenas is credited
for playing most of the parts. The album also
marks the first time that Mutemath produced
its own album, their third for Teleprompt/Warner
"We realized we'd kill ourselves and each
other if we recorded it the same way we did
the second record. This was a much healthier
way for us to work," King said.
Since the recording of "Odd Soul,"
Mutemath has added Todd Gummerman on guitar,
also a native of Springfield, Mo. He is in the
midst of his first tour with the band, which
includes a performance on "Jimmy Kimmel
Live!" the night "Odd Soul" is
to be released.
"Adding Todd to the band was easy. I emailed
him a DVD of our live album and a month later
he emailed me back audio recordings of him playing
with the music, and he matched it note for note,"
The drummer says that he hopes "Odd Soul"
will speak to kids who might be experiencing
the same frustrations he did as a teenager.
"I hope there is some hyper-analytical,
Christian kid who's buried himself in the Bible
and maybe is living in Des Moines and gets a
hold of the record and is no longer afraid of
everything. I hope it spares someone a little
bit of the awkwardness that I went through,"
he said. CV