Mute Math Discusses Long Road To Success

"I lost interest in certain keyboards. To be a keyboardist in different bands can be boring and uneventful. I think I finally got in a band where we decided anything goes and let's try anything and everything; the keytar wound up being one of them. It worked for us. The first time we tried it, nobody threw anything at me, so that was good. As a matter of fact, it got a few more cheers. It was strange. It was almost like people wanted to see a keytar."

- Dara Hakimzadeh
Photos by Sheila Busteed

posted July 16, 2007

Mute Math Discusses Long Road To Success

     Sitting on the edge of a rocky cove along the Ottawa River while a family of mallards fed behind them, frontman Paul Meany and drummer Darren King of Mute Math chatted about the success of their debut album in North America, where they've come from and how far they've gone.

     "From the first band I was in when I was 12, you hope that at some point people love the music you make as much as you do," explains Meany. "It took quite a while to find the other guys in the band that we finally clicked with, and we knew that if we had these four guys in the band something special would happen."

     King adds that having the opportunities he has had so far through the band has been a bit of a shock for him.

     "I never guessed that I'd be playing Letterman or traveling around the country and the world like I am. I'm surprised often, and occasionally disappointed, but mostly excited. It's pretty great," says King with a smile as he looks over at Meany.

     Before starting Mute Math, Meany was the keyboardist and vocalist for another New Orleans-based band, Earthsuit, of which King was a fan, says Meany.

     "At the time, we ventured to just do a side project and a lot of our beginning stuff was obviously a bit more electronic," he says, referring to 2001 the year he left Earthsuit. A series of instrumental demos were made by King and sent to Meany and eventually King moved from Springfield, MT, to New Orleans.

     "We began to build on these few songs that we had and it sort of became what the band is now," says Meany. Shortly thereafter, the band recruited guitarist Greg Hill.

     In 2004, the band released its first EP, Reset, through Teleprompt Records, an independent label formed by Meany, manager Kevin Kookogey and producer Tedd Tjornhom. The final piece of what became Mute Math was bassist Roy Mitchell-Cardenas, who is also a former member of Earthsuit.

Mute Math

     Once Teleprompt garnered intense interest from Warner Bros. Records, there were legal woes surrounding who would promote the band.

     "When we released it originally, it was independently and we were just making it available at our shows," says Meany referring to the EP tour that started in January 2006.

     By August 2006, the issue was settled out of court and Warner released the band's full-length self-titled album on September 26, 2006. The album features remastered versions of "Control," "Plan B" and "Reset," all of which were originally released on Reset.

     "It's just starting to come out in Europe now and make its way out internationally," says Meany. "Getting that thing out with some legs on it, finally, has been quite an accomplishment for us."

     One of the unique features of the band's instrument lineup is the keytar a keyboard worn around the neck and shoulders, which was made popular by synthpop and new wave groups in the '80s.

     "I lost interest in certain keyboards," admits Meany. "To be a keyboardist in different bands can be boring and uneventful. I think I finally got in a band where we decided anything goes and let's try anything and everything; the keytar wound up being one of them.

     "It worked for us. The first time we tried it, nobody threw anything at me, so that was good," he says with a laugh. "As a matter of fact, it got a few more cheers. It was strange. It was almost like people wanted to see a keytar."

     Currently, the band is busy making limited North American and European festival stops before taking a break over the Christmas holidays. Those who make it to a live show between now and then can expect to hear some new songs, says Meany.

     "Right now, we're trying to write as many songs as possible, get some new songs on the table," he says, also noting that the band is going to work with Tjornhom on its sophomore LP.

     "A lot of times, new songs evolve. Obviously, we play it live, which is actually good for the song. You pick out what's wrong with it and what needs to be fixed and then you take it back to the studio. Putting road miles on a lot of new ideas has worked for us for a long time," says Meany. "It's how we made this debut record."