Mutemath drummer Darren King on the Grammys & the Bible

Mutemath's equation -- no pun intended -- is simple: take a notable name plus good music and multiply it by high energy to equal success. Even with their success, the band is continually working towards to the next step in their careers to keep the wolves at bay. 

Gimme Noise spoke with drummer Darren King before their show on Saturday at First Ave.

With Minneapolis being in the middle of a grueling thirty day tour, Darren owes it to his crew to make it bearable. "Back when you're starting out, you are doing everything yourself, but you were running on pure ambition. Our crew now works really hard to help us set up and tear down, and we have it really good.  Sometimes you're tired for the show, but the fact that people paid so much money to come see you -- the fact that they even came at all -- you do your best for them." 

Although he admits to paying little attention to award shows, King still got excited about being nominated for a Grammy in 2007. "I was at Barnes and Noble when Paul [Meany] called me up and said, 'Hey, we got nominated for a Grammy.'  That was weird. I loved it and getting to go to the Grammys was a wild experience. It was the ultimate level of people-watching -- that's really what's great about it -- all the characters, all the celebrities, all dressed to try and be more memorable than the other.  We got to see some pretty amazing performances, and that was the year that Amy Winehouse won, so it was pretty epic, " he shares.

The band started out as a Christian-rock band Earthsuit and evolved into Mutemath.  Darren says, "Mutemath's music is certainly not Christian-rock; it's in a much better place where it can exist beyond those limitations and restrictions. I was raised in that environment -- going to church and listening to religious music -- some of it is good, some of it's not. Just the need to have to always put a happy bow on everything or the way that industry is in particular, we couldn't do it, especially lyrically. The Bible acknowledges all of that nitty-gritty stuff, and that music industry seems to shy away from that.  It has to be uplifting and positive, but you can't always have the uplifting stuff.  You need the heaviness.  It's pretty baffling to work within those confines."

"Although we're not classified as Christian-rock, our music is spiritual and can go either way.  Everything we've ever been raised in -- all of our experiences -- it all comes into play when we start writing.  You pull from everything you've been through.  What you're doing is taking a snapshot of some experience, and you don't even necessarily put your judgement on the snapshot, you just have to take the picture.  That's it; that's all."

On the new album Odd Soul, the band self-produced something they wanted to be able to translate to the live show easily. "There's certain things we talked about prior to making that record that we wanted to push ourselves, because we had one too many failed attempts at working with producers. Those failures certainly take a toll on you, not just on your finances and time, but also on your emotions. We felt we could do better on our own, so we talked about it and made sure that we had an album that was more like a live show in ways.  We thought Odd Soul would be better off 'live' ready," Darren says.

Failures eventually turn into successes, and King defines it as a "form of perceived progress.  It's a balance of satisfying others, but it's also doing what we feel is good, because we have taste too."  

The band has come up with whole new production for this tour.  "We march in from the back of the crowd with our drums, and we have a 3D video that I'm really proud of.  We try to break down the barrier between stage and audience.  It's our funnest, best-sounding, and by far, best show we've done,"  Darren concludes.

Mutemath will perform at First Ave. with Canon Blue on Saturday, February 18, 2012.
AA, $25, 6 pm

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