Reworked Equation

20 March 2013 | 7:30 am | Nic Toupee

“Right now we’re trying these ideas out as a band, and we’ll see which songs live or die, or at least make it to our tour in Australia,”

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"We're restless. We're ready to try something new,” says Paul Meany, vocalist and keyboard player for New Orleans rock band Mutemath. For the last couple of years the band have been on the road touring their 2011 album, Odd Soul, which enjoyed a fair measure of success, reaching number seven on Billboard's US alternative rock charts. But, as Meany explains, “We really enjoyed touring Odd Soul but for the last few months we have been working on some new stuff.”

It's very likely that Australian audiences will be the first to hear some of these new tracks – that is, if they stay on the setlist that long. “Right now we're trying these ideas out as a band, and we'll see which songs live or die, or at least make it to our tour in Australia,” Meany says. “Anything we do play in Australia stands a very good chance of not ending up on our record. It's the curse of our road test; when we road test ideas most of the time we won't put it on a record,” he laughs.

What is likely to make it onto the record is a change of sonic direction. After Odd Soul's '70s-influenced blues rock, Mutemath are embracing a more synthetic sound. “It's probably too early to say what the album will be like, as we start all of our songs as electronic tracks, but I think as a band we've been spending more time on synths recently than on working with guitars. We're really intrigued by the possibility of finding new ways to use old synths, but to keep the feeling and emotion in our music on a parallel to what we've done before.”

While the sonic drive of Meany and the band is leading them towards a new flirtation with synthesis, his own lyrical inspiration is also focussing on something completely new: his first experience of fatherhood. “I've been looking into my soul, see what is there, what to talk about next, what is important. I've just had my first child, so I have this beautiful little girl, a year-and-a-half old. A certain part of me wants to write touchy feely daddy-daughter homage songs,” he chuckles, knowing that he follows in the footsteps of many songwriters before him. “It's just happening; I strongly doubt that any of it will make it onto the record, but I have to admit, it's a strong part of my psyche at the moment. We're sifting through everything though, so we'll make sure we only keep the goods, don't worry.”

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What the band will bring with them from Odd Soul is a newfound confidence in their ability to remain self sufficient, something that Meany explains had a profoundly positive effect. “I think it was a big morale boost; Odd Soul was the first record that we self-produced,” he says. “If nothing else, we came away with the sense that we can trust our instincts. We know what works for our band, and we don't necessarily have to pay producers or run a big democratic consensus with a record label to find out what's good. It's just the three of us making the decisions to write music we love and see it through to a finished state.”

The final element – the secret ingredient – in the new Mutemath album will be the unique environment in which it is recorded. Meany shares that each album has required its own creative space. “We've got a little house we've rented, moved out of our old houses and started designing the new space. It's psychologically completely satisfying, having a place to go to and make music – it's like a fun house. Each house has its own sound. I hope we never buy a place, because I think there's something to be said for moving locations; in a new house and new room, things sound different. There's a different vibe in the air, different mojo – a new space to create in.”

Mutemath will be playing the following dates:

Thursday 21 March - Fowlers Live, Adelaide SA
Friday 22 March - Billboard, Melbourne VIC
Saturday 23 March - The Hi-Fi, Brisbane QLD
Sunday 24 March - The Hi-Fi, Sydney NSW