Brooklyn band Mutoid Man is what most would call a supergroup, as it is composed of guitarist Steve Brodsky from Cave In, drummer Ben Koller from Converge and All Pigs Must Die, and bassist Nick Cageo from the up-and-coming power thrash group Bröhammer. Cageo also happens to be the main sound guy at the notorious Brooklyn metal venue Saint Vitus Bar.
As a trio the members of Mutoid Man take elements of all of their previous bands and inject a healthy dose of psychedelic rock and roll to create a sound that is at once heavy as hell and highly technical. Their recent EP 'Helium Head' features seven catchy songs that are as danceable as they are moshable. If that sounds strangely awesome that's because it is, which is why Mutoid Man is a must-see act at SXSW. Their appearance at the festival is part of a brief tour that includes a small handful of West Coast shows, so consider yourself lucky if you get the opportunity to have your face melted by Mutoid Man this coming week.
Neil Ferguson: How did the members of the band connect and what made you want to start the band?
Ben Koller: Steve [Brodsky] and I had been playing together off and on for years. Converge and Cave In have played many shows together over the years and I filled in for Cave In around 2005-2006. Steve moved to Brooklyn a few years ago while I was still living there and it was only natural that we would start jamming together. Everything started moving really fast so we just decided to throw up a recording rig and get down to business.
Talk about some of the musical styles you incorporate and if they are inspired by any particular bands.
Ben Koller: Steve and I have both been in touring bands for many years and have picked up lots of influences along the way. We don't just listen to metal, punk, hardcore, etc. On any given day I'll listen to anything from Elvis to Pig Destroyer. The range of our musical influences is pretty wide, but if you're a fan of heavy music from the 60's to present day you can probably get a pretty good idea of where we're coming from. For me personally my influences for this band are a mix of 70's prog/heavy rock and more modern weirdness like Botch, Mastodon, Dillinger Escape Plan, etc...
Steve Brodsky: Well, I'm about to turn 35 this year, which makes me a 70's child. I guess it's in my blood to inject the feel of that decade into music I write. The initial target was us trying to imagine a hybrid of Motörhead and Lightning Bolt. On Helium Head there were definitely some moments of inspiration taken from Botch, old Soundgarden, you know, all that awesome Northwestern noise that's lacking in vitamin D. And, of course, drawing upon things we love about the other bands we play in.
Can you describe Mutoid Man to someone who has never heard the band?
Ben Koller: Capture a gorilla from the zoo. Shoot him up with methamphetamine, put him in a spacesuit and take him to Mars. Let him walk around on the surface for a while, smash the glass covering his face then watch him have an Arnold Schwarzenegger-esque Total Recall freakout where his eyes bulge out of his skull. We sort of sound like that.
The band added Nick Cageo to the mix a while ago. What does he bring to the table creatively and how does his presence effect the dynamic of the band?
Steve Brodsky: Ben and I did what I guess you could call the first Mutoid Man show as a duo a couple years ago at Saint Vitus Bar. We ran through about 5 or 6 songs together, including some early versions of what later became Mutoid Man songs. Behind the soundboard that night was Nick. I remember he seemed genuinely stoked for the set. Ben had a hunch that he'd be a great fit for the group - and the dude can really play. Nick's a genuine youthful spirit, and probably smarter than most people twice his age.
On your album you have a unique rendition of “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.” How did the band decide to include that on the album? How does the band go about translating a song like that into a Mutoid Man version?
Ben Koller: If I remember correctly Steve and I had learned an acoustic version of that song to play at a wedding at first. When we had finished tracking Helium Head we decided to play a heavy version of it for a potential bonus track as a goof. We did a couple takes and it sounded awesome so that's what you hear on the record.
Have you played SXSW before? What is your personal secret to surviving a festival like SXSW?
Steve Brodsky: Yes, several times! I will be traveling with a tall bottle of Advil, because music is usually blasting from everywhere and anywhere. Also, you should anticipate running into people you know, which I think helps to harness the chaos a bit, you know, seeing some familiar faces amongst the swarms of strangers. What else? For every adult beverage you consume, counter it with a glass of water. Stay sharp!
Mutoid Man at SXSW:
3/13 - Invisible Oranges Showcase at Quantum Lounge (303 W 5th St.)
3/14 - MetalSucks Showcase at The Dirty Dog (505 E 6th St.)