Mixed Blood Majority started out as a side project between Joe Horton (No Bird Sing), Crescent Moon (Kill the Vultures), and Lazerbeak (Doomtree) in 2013. Like so many bands, it began with some friends getting together to make music, with no concrete plans or intentions. They never explicitly said it was a one-time thing, but that was the feeling. Then the Twin Cities music vets took the stage, felt the energy and the response, and the super-side project took a life of its own.
Mixed Blood Majority has been relatively quiet this past year, but they return with a vengeance on their new album Insane World, a no-holds-barred call for action in a passive world. The group will celebrate the record's release at First Avenue on Friday with P.O.S and GRRRL PRTY after a six-day tour with Doomtree.
City Pages spoke with Joe Horton ahead of the show about what went into making Insane World, self-expression, and why attention requires confrontation.
City Pages: How did the album come together?
Joe Horton: The first record we did was a collection of beats that ‘Beak already had and we tried to craft a cohesive record out of that. This time, from the jump, we were making the record together. It was a much more collaborative project this time around.
CP: Is there a learning curve when working outside of your main groups?
JH: Coming together, it wasn’t a learning curve so much as first date excitement: new patterns to figure out and new things to explore. It happened pretty organically.
CP: To stick with the first date idea, you were friends first. What new things did you learn about each other?
JH: I think we understand each other in a language-less way. Making music with somebody is a really good way to find out what their soul is about, what types of things about life excite them, what curiosities they have. When we were concentrating on what sound we all wanted with this record, we shared a lot about what excites us about life. It was cool to get to know that about each other.
CP: How do you switch gears from No Bird Sing to Mixed Blood? Is time an issue?
JH: It is. When we started it was supposed to be a side project, something fun to do on the side. People have responded so strongly to it—now it’s an equally popular group in our camp to anything else, with the exception of Doomtree. It has become more of a priority so we set time aside to do it.
It can get really hard sometimes because Kill the Vultures just released a flat-out brilliant record and that takes a ton of time to get that artistic clarity. And I’m working on a solo record right now with Anatomy (the producer from Kill the Vultures) and it’s that same deal. When you’re split-minded between two projects it’s less of a time issue and more of a headspace issue: how much of yourself can you dedicate to each project. It takes innovative scheduling to be split-minded and dedicated to each project fully.
Once that balance is laid out we can go between worlds or whatever. The way we make art is you have to live it, dedicate a 100% of yourself to it and it’s hard to do that with multiple projects. This last time around it found a flow where were could dedicate ourselves to each.
CP: What are the dominant themes with the new record? Was it conscious or did it just come together?
JH: A little bit of both. These things emerge organically but once you notice them you have to help urge them along. To me this record is about not being shy about having a certain philosophy about life. Like I said about art, you have to dedicate yourself. That’s a philosophy about life the group shares. We talk about ways to live life deeply and with curiosity. The ways that’s been presented to people is really passively: introspective and meek.
I don’t feel like a meek person, so I realized I was doing a disservice to this philosophy by delivering it in a way that was apologetic. Fuck that, let’s make some shit that cuts. I want it to be hard but not to sacrifice the philosophical musings we have in our other projects. It was about sharpening the blade and not being apologetic for the way that we view the world and we want to explore it.
I’m being vague about the themes because it’s hard to convey in a short time period but these ideas are necessary right now. The world is in a lot of pain, people are really hurting. These ideas we’re talking about can no longer be meek, we’ve lost that luxury. Just because people don’t understand them doesn’t mean they aren’t important.
A lot of the people that I read are talking about disillusionment. The way our world is set up, people aren’t given the opportunity to search for meaning in their existence. Their existence has been boiled down to serving something in a system they don’t understand, like cogs in a machine. Usually when people opt out of that they’re relegated to this hippie status or whatever.
If you read Alan Watts there’s a certain softness in the tone that was appropriate for when he was speaking but right now that soft tone just bounces off people, it doesn’t even hit them anymore. For me it was really important to present those same ideas with an attitude and an aggression that is a part of who I am.
CP: Insane World has an aggressive tone.
JH: There’s definitely aggression there. It’s confrontational. It’s trying to go to where people are, it’s no longer enough to present something and have people come to it, we’re going to where the people are now.
Mixed Blood Majority
With: P.O.S, GRRRL PRTY.
When: 8 p.m. Fri., Dec. 11.
Where: First Avenue.
Tickets: $16; more info here.