photo by Mitchell Wojcik
The band's new album "Bleeder" is one of 2015's best.
Steve Brodsky, formerly of Cave In, spoke to us about the band's genesis and more. Consider this the definitive scoop on Mutoid Man.
Give our readers the lowdown on how Mutoid Man came to be?
It was sort of just very unassuming and random how we got together and made a band out of it. Ben Koller, the drummer, and I had a relationship, musically, for about 10 years now. His band Converge and my band Cave In did a recorded collaboration together years ago. Most of it never got released, but some got released on Converge's Axe to Fall.
Prior, Ben and I lived with Kurt [Ballou] from Converge. It was a slanty shanty. You could let a tennis ball go and it would roll to the other side. I had this resurgence where I was collecting video games and video game consoles, from the games that I was playing games in my youth. It was a mid-'20s life crisis. Ben was like a natural gamer. I would get stuck in Zelda and knock on his door. Like, 'How do I get out of the dark world here?' He'd pull out old issue of Nintendo Power and we were video game nerd buddies. That is how it started. We've been musically cross-pollinating over the years. He played drums in Cave In for about a year. We did a bunch of touring and recording.
When we found ourselves living in New York, we figured we'd just jam out and see what happens. I moved there since I was in a long-distance relationship. I was living in Boston, dating a woman in New York, and commuting. I bit the bullet and wanted to make it more serious, so I moved to New York. Ben and his girlfriend lived in Brooklyn and we ended up sharing a rehearsal space. I moved a full stack down from Boston and it was stuck in my closet. Ben said, 'It's a travesty. Let's get that in my rehearsal space.' I had nowhere else to put the stack. I had thought, 'If it falls through the floorboards and crushes someone... I'm in trouble.' So then we started jamming.
Are you still in New York?
I still live in New York but Boston is still my home.
I love that Bleeder is riffy and noisy, but it lacks the hipster element that similar-sounding bands might have. Was that at all purposeful or did it just... happen?
It's hard to say. We definitely go about crafting the songs as well as we can so that there is a little bit of all elements under the umbrella of rock 'n' roll in there. One of the covers we love to do is Little Richard song. It's a drumbeat that Led Zeppelin stole. Anyone who has an interest or an ear for rock music, if they have the patience to sit with Mutoid Man, which doesn't take that much patience, since Bleeder is still under a half-hour long... as long as you can roll with it, you will hear something that is a nod to punk or hardcore or classic rock or old-timey rock. We succeed at that. We are a well-rounded band. We throw out nods to rock 'n' roll.
Besides, do hipsters really listen to rock 'n' roll anymore?
I wonder if they do! That's a great point. So, pick one song off Bleeder and go deep with us.
One of the more memorable songwriting moments is 'Bridgeburner,' the opening track. Early in the writing process, when Ben and his family were packing up to move to the West Coast, where they were for a year, I helped him with the move. I helped him drive his car and some belongings and their dog across the country.
We were in the car for four or five days, taking a little road trip. At some point, we had podcasts, mixes, and some video games going on on the stereo. I think the theme from video game Tiger Heli came on and we looked at each other. We were vibing on it. We thought we should tell Nick [Cageao] to write a riff that sounds like this. We found a YouTube link to the music, sent it to Nick and five minutes later, we get a message back with Nick with his bass, playing the main riff to 'Bridgeburner.' We were like, 'Woah. That is rad.' We send ideas all the time but I remember that moment. We knew we had to jam on that riff.
All that came from chaos!
We've dealt with some degree of chaos.
Do you resent/dislike/not care about the "supergroup" tag, since you've got some quality pedigree, with yourself and Converge/All Pigs Must Die drummer Ben Koller in the ranks?
In a sense, it is flattering, that people feel that way about groups we play in. Those groups are noteworthy enough to apply that tag. I look at it as praise. It's one of those things, where in the beginning, it can be tough. Maybe writers feel this way, or maybe you feel this way. Do you feel this responsibility to do what you can when talking or writing or music to bring it above the surface? That is fine. If people feel that way about Mutoid Man, I will call it 'God's Jizzing in Your Earhole!' I don't care. I don't care what you call it. That is one of the beautiful things about America. We have the freedom to act or behave as we wish in the world and have fun. Call it a supergroup, that's fine by me.
You have provided a charming snapshot of nerdy love of video games. Nerdiness is good in 2015. What is the one thing you want people to know about Mutoid Man?
The three of them in this band figured out how to unite under rock 'n' roll.