Sometimes all you have to do is try, folks. We love MUTEMATH here at kilScene.com, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think we’d be lucky enough to snag an interview with the band, let alone with one of the band’s founding members. You never know what’s possible if you don’t even bother attempting to try, and life’s too short, so we went for it. I tracked down MUTEMATH’s manager, Mr. Kevin Kookogey’s e-mail address (I didn’t have to track him down that hard. Just went to the band’s official website and found his e-mail address there on the site.) I sent him an e-mail requesting an interview with the boys from MUTEMATH. Little did I expect that I would hear back from him. Seriously, I half expected him to look at the e-mail address, realize he didn’t recognize it, and then promptly dump it into his e-mail’s trash bin. How wrong I was.
A few hours after I sent that e-mail, and without holding out any sort of hope, there I am in the movie theatre with my brother, his brother, and their father getting ready to enjoy Star Trek: Into Darkness, when just at random (I guess I wasn’t feeling whatever trailer was playing at the time), I check my e-mail and lo and behold, a response from Kevin! Well, after several e-mail exchanges and one small bit of miscommunication later, I was on with none other than the co-founder/drummer of MUTEMATH, Darren King! He was nothing short than a true blue dude, just a really nice guy and I didn’t get the sense that I was speaking with somebody who was self-absorbed and cocky because he’s in this major band. Accessibility is a big deal in the music industry, and kilScene is homegrown D.I.Y music site so actually getting an interview as major as Darren King was a big deal for us, and I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank him for being him. Just a dude, talking music with another dude.
When Darren called, he was actually driving with his family to Dallas, where his wife, Stacy King, vocalist and keyboardist for the indie rock group Eisley was set to perform that night. Very cool.
: HOW DID YOU AND PAUL FIRST GET TOGETHER? WHAT WAS THE “…IN THE BEGINNING MOMENT” OF MUTEMATH?
DARREN KING: We met back together in 1997, I believe it was. I was 14 years old and Paul (Meany) came through this church I was–it was my life. I was there all the time and he was in this traveling internship sort of thing and he was playing in his other band and we became really close friends and he befriended me. I was just a really hyper kid. I played the drums a lot so I kept in touch with him and I was thinking about auditioning for his band after I graduated high school but it didn’t work out. I didn’t quite cut the mustard so they sent me home and two years after that, they lost their drummer so I got a second chance. I had been practicing quite a bit by that point, and I had moved to Nashville to pursue music on my own. So I joined their band, it was called Earthsuit and I toured with them until they broke up. Then Hurricane Katrina happened and everything so they kicked us out of New Orleans temporarily and we ended up on the road and I’ve been with the band [MUTEMATH] ever since and that was 10 years ago.
kS: AT WHAT POINT DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU WANTED TO MAKE MUSIC YOUR LIFE’S WORK?
DK: Oh, pretty early on and it was around the time I met Paul, from that point on it was all pretty much music for me. I attempted to convince myself, talk myself out of it, go to college but I KNEW I only wanted to do music.
kS: WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR THE GROUP’S NAME?
DK: Oh, we just thought it looked good in print. Real symmetrical. It’s pretty confusing to hear the first time someone says it, but we just thought it looked great and symmetrical and we thought that was cool.
kS: HOW IMPORTANT IS IMPROVISATION TO YOUR MUSIC WRITING PROCESS?
DK: It’s most important. We all get together in the studio and whomever feels inspired by anything, whatever it might be, on whatever instrument, gets to record that, and then we record this whole mess of tracks and ideas and then i’ll go through it all later on and edit it and try to make sense of it, but it’s a really fun way to work because you can follow the inspiration of whoever is most excited to try something and then the freedom to try whatever instrument you want. All the guys are multi-instrumentalists so everybody has a different approach to it.
(To check out Darren at the 2012 Guitar Center Drum Off. A master of the skins just click here)
kS: DO YOU PREFER THE STUDIO OR THE STAGE?
DK: The stage. Entirely.
kS: YOU SEEM TO HAVE AN UNCONVENTIONAL APPROACH TO THE USE OF INSTRUMENTS. DOES THAT COME NATURALLY OR IS IT A CONSCIOUS EXPLORATION?
DK: It’s important to pick a different instrument every now and then because you get stuck in a rut with the same old one a lot of the time. A different instrument will make a different song happen for sure.
kS: IS THERE AN OVERALL ARCHING THEME BEHIND THE MUSIC?
DK: No. I think there might be from record to record, hopefully. The first record was pretty much optimism, the second one seemed to be disappointment and confusion. The third one is attempting to have confidence.
kS: WHAT’S THE MEANING, IF ANY, BEHIND OF THE COVER ART FOR “ODD SOUL”?
DK: Not much, not too deep. That’s pretty much face value, I think.
kS: HOW IMPORTANT ARE OTHER FORMS OF ART?
DK: It’s all very important. It’s all very useful and good and meaningful.
kS: WHAT WERE SOME OF YOUR INFLUENCES GROWING UP?
DK: I was listening to Beck, Björk, DJ Shadow, and the Beastie Boys. That’s when I really fell in love with music. Prior to that, there was a lot of other stuff that was in my dad’s collection like instrumental surf rock music, Mozart, Beach Boys, all that.
kS: WOULD YOU SAY YOU WERE A FAN OF TODAY’S MUSIC SCENE?
DK: Yes, most certainly.
kS: WHAT IS YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE SONG?
DK: Currently, I’ve returned to The Cupid Shuffle from a few years ago, that’s sort of a masterpiece, if you will. I don’t think we’ll ever get a better song in post modern culture. I think Cupid might have peaked with The Cupid Shuffle.
kS: WHAT WAS THE LAST NON-MUSIC RELATED JOB THAT YOU HAD?
DK: I was a waiter, that’s all I ever was before. Well, and a gardner. I was a groundskeeper and a waiter before I did music full time.
kS: IF YOU COULD BE ANYBODY’S OPENING ACT, CHOOSING A GROUP FROM THE PAST OR PRESENT, WHO DOES MUTEMATH OPEN UP FOR?
DK: James Brown. Every time.
kS: IN YOUR OPINION, WHICH WAS THE GREATEST ERA FOR MUSIC?
DK: That would have to be the late 60’s. I’m a little torn, but yeah, late 60’s was it. However there was this crazy thing with swing music. Rhapsody In Blue, Gershwin, all that stuff. But definitely, late 60’s for sure.
kS: SEEING FROM YOUR TOUR SCHEDULE, MUTEMATH IS SET TO PLAY IN ARIZONA, CALIFORNIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA, AND TEXAS. YOU KNOW WHAT’S MISSING HERE, DARREN? NEW YORK. WHEN IS MUTEMATH COMING BACK TO NEW YORK?
DK: As soon as we’re invited, I suppose. We are planning to do a tour in the fall though. We’re trying to come up with a unique concept for the tour. We want to do a tour like we’ve never done before.
kS:ODD SOUL WAS RELEASED OCTOBER 4, 2011, WHEN, OH, WHEN CAN WE EXPECT MUTEMATH’S NEXT STUDIO ALBUM?
DK: Not for quite a while. It’s going pretty slow, we’ll see. We were hoping it would come out this year but it’s too soon to tell.
kS: DO YOU GUYS ROAD TEST NEW MATERIAL?
DK: Oh yes.
kS: ARE THERE ANY MUTEMATH SONGS THAT YOU’RE TIRED OF PLAYING LIVE, BUT CONTINUE TO DO SO BECAUSE YOU KNOW THEY’RE FAN FAVORITES?
DK: Yeah, I get tired of playing “Chaos”, that’s the only one I really get tired of, but I still enjoy it from night to night. That’s the only one.
kS: WHAT DO YOU WANT FANS TO TAKE AWAY FROM MUTEMATH’S MUSIC?
DK: It’s entertainment. I just want them to be entertained and to have a good time. I want us to have a good time together. It’s a release, and I want them to feel joy. Joy, that’s it.
kS: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO UP AND COMING GROUPS THAT ARE TRYING TO MAKE IT IN MUSIC?
DK: I’m a very extroverted person but I’ve had to go through loneliness and boring times in order to be what I get to be, and that is necessary. I’ve been able to avoid enough distractions to get to do it and that’s what’s important. It’s tougher and tougher now more than ever to avoid distraction, but that’s the trick and just relationships. The more people you meet, that you respect to play music with, those types of opportunities can alter your life.
kS: WHERE DO YOU SEE MUTEMATH IN 10 YEARS?
DK: Hopefully we got a big hit by then and that’s the goal. That’s the one thing we don’t have. We want a really, really big hit as opposed to our many medium hits.
kS: Thank you for your time, Darren.
DK: …And with that, my interview with Darren King came to a close. I rather enjoyed speaking with him, it was quite an informative fifteen minutes, I will say this though, and I’m strictly speaking from a fan’s perspective, MUTEMATH churns out nothing but hits, hopefully, this interview, this site and what we strive to do in bringing our fans all the latest and greatest from their soon-to-be favorite groups will help rocket groups like MUTEMATH to the stratosphere, because they’re doing something special with music. Don’t worry Darren, people will catch on. As long as MUTEMATH keeps pushing on with the tunes, there’s no telling how far this band will go. The only way is up after all, is it not?
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