By Logan Lenz
(As published in Rag Magazine, 2007)
Don’t be ashamed if you have never heard of Mute Math; not a lot of people have. Slowly but surely, however, the band has begun turning heads and earning fans after their album debuted at 17 on Billboard’s “Top Heatseekers” chart. The band’s eclectic blend of musical genres has enabled the group to headline their own theater tour in the fall. Known for their vibrant and sometimes dangerous live performances, Mute Math only has room to grow. Paul Meany, the band’s founder and vocalist spoke exclusively with RAG Magazine on his band and their rapid rise to stardom.
In your own words, how would you describe Mute Math’s music?
Meany: I would describe it as good music. That’s the only kind that I was interested in making when we started. If there is a category that we would fall into, it would have to be that one.
What is the meaning behind the name Mute Math?
Meany: There is no meaning. It was our drummer’s email address. If it meant anything, it simply meant that we didn’t have to continue looking for a name, which we had arduously done for months and months.
How did you guys end up teaming up with an act such as Eisley for the current tour?
Meany: We met Eisley a while ago. They are a bunch of sweethearts that make sweet music. We played a Christmas party for Warner Bros and we were horrible. We just botched it! It was one of those shows where we finished and nobody would talk to us or even look at us. Eisley happened to be there and they were the only ones that came to talk to us. They pretty much nursed us back to health. We’ve been friends ever since.
Mute Math offer a myriad of different elements in their music. Did you guys set out to make something different and unique when you formed or is that something that just happened over time?
Meany: All we wanted to do was create something that we would be excited about. Mute Math really started out as a side project. We always just tried to keep everything simple, while trying to steer clear of any particular musical category.
Who influences Mute Math’s music?
Meany: All of the greats: Barry Manilow, Celine Dion, Barbara Streisand, Michael Bolton – you can just go through the lineage.
What’s your favorite track off of the album?
Meany: It varies from day to day. Today, I’m in a “Stare at the Sun” mood.
You guys were very wise in your decision to release your albums independently through your own label Teleprompt Records. How did the partnership with Warner Bros actually work? Did they pursue you or is that something you planned on doing anyhow?
Meany: Honestly, we really didn’t know. Ted from Teleprompt had a lot of friends involved with the bigger labels. His dream was to have his own imprint label that would eventually upstream to Warner Bros. At the same time, Darren and I started making music together. That model was very attractive to us and it worked out rather well.
I hear you guys have been working on some material for a new album. What can you say about that and what can everyone expect?
Meany: Everyone can expect that it will be a better record than the first. We won’t release it if it’s not. We have been working with a lot of cryptic ideas during soundchecks and our occasional free time. From the few songs we have written, I am pretty exhilarated just thinking about the next record.
For anyone that did not witness it, explain how Mute Math became the first band to play backwards on television.
Meany: That would be a confusing statement to me too. We filmed the music video for the song “Typical” in reverse. It’s not an original idea by any means, but we did it as a performance. Everyone learned their parts backwards. It was a blast! Someone at Warner Bros recommended doing the same thing on live television. So, all we did was recreate our video on TV for Jimmy Kimmel’s show. It was extremely awkward and confusing for everyone in the audience, but when they aired it, they flipped it and the end result was a visual festival.
How did the Transformers gig come about? What was it like writing the theme song for such a blockbuster film?
Meany: Going back in time to an eight-year old Paul Meany, it was hoped that one day he would get to sing the Transformers theme song on its soundtrack. I was obsessed with Transformers. Warner Bros called us and told us they were doing the soundtrack. They didn’t have anybody doing the theme song and they asked us if we would be interested in taking a stab at it. Of course, we obliged. It was a real pleasure.
Is there one moment or period of major accomplishment that stands out to you?
Meany: There has been a few. Doing our first headlining tour was a big one. Just seeing people show up to watch you perform was a stellar collection of moments. Another one would have to be playing David Letterman. All of us have a huge respect for that show.
What about all of the new music out there? Are there any newer bands that stand out to you?
Meany: Shiny Toy Guns and The Cinematics – both great bands.
What is to come for the future of Mute Math?
Meany: All I see in the future is a lot of shows. Hopefully, we will be able to record our next record at some point early next year.