PC: Jammi York
Sludgy, frenetic, and surprisingly melodic, Mutoid Man serves up nasty, heavy jams with a side of skilled riffage. Their latest release, War Moans, is 12-tracks worth of head spinning metal aptitude, so of course, we here at the Deli were very curious as to what kind of gear went into making their signature gut-busting sound. – by Olivia Sisinni
What feelings, events, people, records, inspired your latest album War Moans?
Feelings of joy, persistence, happiness, and gleeful rage are all present on War Moans. We found lots of musical inspiration from our peers on the road last year, sharing the stage with Baroness, Gwar, Converge, etc… and of course, when Chelsea Wolfe and Marty Friedman are down to collab on your album, it’s hard not to be stoked.
Can you talk a bit about the themes that encompass this release?
The perversion of sex occupies our day-to-day in some shape or form, from product advertising to the the fact that any type of porn is accessible within seconds on our handheld devices. War Moansacknowledges this perversion and celebrates it having a home in the world of rock ‘n’ roll, continuing the tradition of this being a perfectly acceptable place for all forms of sexual expression.
Was there a person outside the band that had an important role in shaping your sound?
Kurt Ballou who recorded War Moans and also our previous album Bleeder is a good suck filter – we welcome his oftentimes blunt manner of guiding the production and occasional song writing, which usually leads to us doing better work.
Did you guys work on a new or improved guitar sound for this record, and, if so, what made everything click?
I played an Aria Pro II XX-MS 1985 Flying V with stock pick ups that I bought last year. It’s built for speed and really helps me wrangle the faster tempo stuff. We used the same amp on War Moans as we did with Bleeder – a Gibson Titan from the 60’s. This time we added more soundproofing foam in the live room to give the drum tracks greater isolation, and I think you can hear noticeable improvement in the overall mix.
How much of your distortion is amp and how much of it is pedals?
I like to dial in amp gain to the point of it sounding like speakers breaking up naturally, then I’ll add the external overdrive. If need be, I’ll push the amp gain harder when the floor needs extra shaking.
Tell us about your first time with… a guitar pedal. How old were you and what did you stomp on?
I started playing an acoustic guitar at age 12 and quickly became impatient to crank things up a notch with an electric. I remember driving with my folks to buy a used Rickenbacker practice amp… this thing was tiny and very basic but it didn’t matter – I was so excited to play through it, thinking “finally I’ll sound just like of all my favorite rock n roll and metal albums!” Of course when I plugged in, the sound was way cleaner than I’d hoped and the only way to get any gain was to pin every knob to 10 and strum the guitar as hard as possible – even then it provided soft gain at best. Several broken strings later, I’d managed to savesome paper route money and bought my first distortion pedal – the DOD American Metal, which I still own to this day. Game changer for sure! Recently I listened back to some cassette boombox recordings I’d made around that time and thought “This tone would be right at home on those early Hellhammer and Darkthrone albums”, both of which were way off my radar in 1993!
I still get nostalgic for the old Yamaha stereo Flanger pedal sound from the 80’s. It was the first “effect” pedal I owned and that was my way of exploring the feeling of how Nirvana used stereo chorus on “Nevermind”. Later on, I’d say discovering the Boss PS-3 was a major revelation, as it contains a particular setting which mirrors a distinct shimmery sound that’s existed deep in my musical imagination for several years. My band Cave In obviously exploited this sound to the degree in which Kurt Ballou now calls that pedal the “Caveinator” haha.
What do you have on your pedalboard these days?
Pictured above is my basic set up for Mutoid Man. Yellow tape arrows indicate the [Boss PS-5] Super Shifter quick octave up for piercing eardrums and a slowdiving octave down for brown note central. There’s a reverse delay for mild trippy ambience, flanger, octave down laser-like sonic intensity mimicking some intergalactic bass playing alien phenom , a sampler pedal for when I get lonely as the lone guitar player in a band and want some loopy company, octave up for more sharp frequency violence upon unsuspecting eardrums, and a (sexual) organ simulator for me to launch into “take me out to the ballgame” at any given moment.
What’s your favorite pedal on your board right now?
The [Electro-Harmonix] B-9 is pretty great as it tracks one’s playing super well – it’s also a happy medium for all the years I’ve said how badly I wanna take piano lessons.
Are there any stompboxes you are itching to buy?
I’m looking to pick up an Eterna [a reverb from Mr. Black]. Also we used the Boss Vocoder all over War Moans to the point where it might actually be busted haha – I dig it so much that I’ll prolly buy a new one if that’s the case. Strymon is making some cool stuff. Also been getting back into messing around with envelope filter – I’m sure technology has come leaps and bounds since the DOD version from the early 90’s.
Are there any up-and-coming New York bands that you’re really excited about?
I think Sarahbeth from the band Tower has one of the most killer voices in the entire city.