Q&A with Mutemath’s lead singer Paul Meany

Mutemath's Ryman debut is sure to be anything but quiet

On Oct. 3, Mutemath will take the Ryman stage for the first time. The alt rockers are on a brand new tour showcasing their latest album, Play Dead. The show is surely to be uplifting and colorful as the staple band is known for their high energy shows. Vanderbilt Hustler’s Precious Kato got a chance to hang out with Mutemath’s lead singer Paul Meany and discuss the band’s start, the album, and a newfound landscaping hobby.  

Vanderbilt Hustler: So, how did you get your individual start in music?

Paul Meany: It’s all I can remember wanting to do. I was just talking about this yesterday to our drummer because I started taking drum lessons in a little town in Louisiana. And I did grow up in church. My dad was the musical director so whenever he needed me to play, or anyone to play, I did. He taught me how to play bass and piano. I think the moment happened though when I realized I didn’t have to play the chords that were on the chord chart. That’s when I realized I could start messing with harmonies and all kinds of stuff like that. I was like, “I could do this for the rest of my life.”

VH: Wow, so a really humble beginning for you. How then did Mutemath come about?

PM: Well I met Darren King when he was fifteen. I was traveling through with my band at the time, and he was a fan. Then we stayed in contact and he started sending me demos, and that’s how we started working together. He flew down to New Orleans right when he graduated high school, and we wrote our first song together. And that song we created was called “Typical.”

VH: That was one of my first favorite songs by you guys, and many others’ I’m sure. So knowing the background of it makes it so much more meaningful.

PM: Well the lesson we learned through that whole thing was never throw a song idea away! Always keep it on the shelf. And it’s something that we’ve done. Even sixteen years later on this new album Play Dead, it was a lot of ideas we started writing five years ago for what we thought was a different album. And we just shelved them and didn’t use them at the time. Now we came back to them and we’ve got Play Dead.

VH: I read in another interview that “Hit Parade” is the first song y’all ever recorded that sounds like what you guys wanted Mutemath to sound like from the very beginning. Overall, what were you trying to accomplish with this album?

PM: The main goal was to indulge. This was the first album we did that was just the four of us, no collaborations. We wanted to just put everyone in go mode and just make whatever we thought was the sickest version of our band. Just go for it. Let’s not record with too many parameters. It’s how many chords can we get away with. How many drum fills, chords, and harmony stacks? Whatever it was, pile it on. The idea of setting everyone free and trusting each other was really what drove the train for Play Dead. And I’m really proud of it. It’s certainly one of our best efforts and a great representation of what our band is.

VH: What’s your favorite song off of the new album and why?

PM: I mean it changes. When we first turned it in, my favorite song by far was “Stroll On” because we had never done a song like that. It’s probably still my favorite. I feel like when the work becomes public domain you hear the album differently. I mean I hear the album differently now, and I find myself really enjoying the track “Achilles Heel.” And that track is a great example of something I’ve enjoyed most about our band, our capability to follow the rabbit down the hole. There’s no real formula. That song was just so fun to create.

VH: What do you like to do outside of music that contribute to your musicality, i.e. a hobby you turn to to rejuvenate the creativity?

PM: I don’t really have a hobby. But I can tell you one thing I’ve loved to do over the past three years is kinda weird, but it’s extremely therapeutic to me. It’s yard work. [laughs] You know making gardens, landscaping. It became just a mind clearing thing. And I found myself in this house that required a lot of yard work. At first it as a chore but then I realized it was a wonderful reset button that I became addicted to. I felt like after a good few days of sweating it out, I was ready to really knock out some songs. There you go. Landscaping!

VH: What are your thoughts on this upcoming tour?

PM: I’m super excited. This album as we’ve been marrying it and reinventing some of the old tunes; we’ve created this new show that we’re gonna put in full force. We’ve got a new visual approach, making the show a little more cinematic on this tour. It’s been a particularly fun challenge for us.

VH: It’s going to be too much fun. We are all looking forward to seeing you guys at The Ryman!

Be sure to check out Mutemath downtown at The Ryman this evening! The show begins at 7:30 p.m with Colony House opening. Tickets are $29.50 and can be found here!

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