Indieterria meets Mutes

Dear Readers,

Birmingham/West Mids scene at times feels like uncharted territory. You may be an active player locally for years and still come across bands that you have not heard of before. And they usually will be bands that you dig immediately, from the first listen. Let`s take Mutes for example. One evening, on our way home we noticed a poster advertising a gig in the local venue in Worcester.  We checked the headliner to realise not only they were part of the West Mids scene but we had like a million mutual friends and hanged out at the same boozers and venues between Madlands and Mancunia (hello Sunny and Castle!) Mutes were noisy, unpredictable and fiercely independent. The same evening we sent them a message and asked for an interview. There was no time to be wasted. Below, you will find our conversation with vocalist James Brown and Tom Hewson – bassist and founder of FOMA records. It is a long, splendid read but that`s how we like our music – loud, untamed with artists having something important to say.

Band logo

Mutes are:
James Brown  (guitar/vocals)
Tom Hewson (bass)
Craig Philip Bainton (drums)

Official bio: After two long, domesticated years of breakups, job losses, uprooting and rebuilding, Mutes have returned with their reactionary, tempestuous sophomore LP “Pareidolia”– a meandering, exhilarating record that sees the Birmingham post-punk group delivering something entirely new. Mutes have continued to build up a national reputation supporting bands such as Sorry, No Age, Cloud Nothings, The Cribs, PINS, Menace Beach & more. The group have received a steady stream of acclaim for their recorded output and live shows since 2014.

The Mutes ready to take their new material on the road. Photo by Megan Lewis

DIY Magazine described you with these words: “Mutes occupy the kind of territory that heavyweights tend to own”. Please introduce yourselves to the readers of Indieterria.

James Brown: So we’re Mutes- a 3 piece band from Birmingham. Started as a solo lo-fi project for myself but has ballooned into something far more aggy and ferocious. We’re into noise rock, ambient music, math, chamber pop, garage punk… everything really. Our music is kind of arty punk I think. It’s ephemeral in a sense but it’s also a lot more drawn-out than most of our local contemporaries.

Mutes have been on Birmingham scene for a relatively long period and have impressive back catalogue, maybe even the richest on local scene.  Your debut, self titled EP came in May 2014. It was followed by “Starvation Age”, a full band release on One Note Forever Records in 2015. You also have  an LP  – “No Desire” – that came out in 2017 via FOMA Records. That’s a lot of material. James also has three solo EPs to his name:  “Various Distractions” (2013), “No One Is Nowhere” (2014) and “Inertia” (2016). Its seems like you have this urge to record at any time. And even at any place – judging from the fact that your albums have been recorded in a bedroom in Birmingham and  a basement in Leeds.

Overfed singles cover

James Brown:  We’re actually nowhere near as prolific as I’d like to be. It’s hard in this day and age- if you release stuff constantly it just gets lost in the ether. Ideally I’d love to release at least 2 EPs a year and an album every other. But it’s hard to maintain prolificacy when you have a full time job! Above and all music should be self-expression and playing in a band should be fun- there’s no point writing a song if you have no feeling or aesthetic bursting to escape. There’s more than enough songs in the world. We record anywhere we can due to budget constraints- I recorded and mixed “Pareidolia” myself because I knew I had to make the album but I had no money at all. And I’m glad- necessity is the mother of invention and there’s things I did that I could’ve never done on someone else’s clock.

Press release for your new records mentions “breakups, job losses, uprooting and rebuilding”. This struggle must have left its mark on the album. Would you be feeling comfortable to tell what have happened in the band in the last two years?

James Brown:  Well over the last 2 years Mutes have had 8 different members. And I’ve had 2 relationships, 3 jobs, lived in 2 cities. You get the picture. It’s not been a particularly stable existence, but for better or worse having music to keep me going has been imperative to not just jacking everything in. Because when you’re onstage, or laying down vocals, or in a sweaty, smokey rehearsal room and everything clicks – none of the other bullshit matters. I wrote out all the lyrics to “Pareidolia” the other day and they do really reflect everything I’ve gone through over the past couple of years- relationship breakdowns, identity crisis, substance abuse or whatever. Even if I was too mired in it at the time to realise that’s what I was writing about.

New LP is entitled “Pareidolia” and comes out on June 21st 2019. So far three singles have been released: “Swallowing Light”, “Overfed” and “Men of Violence”.  The album brings a brand new line up. How do you think the record will be received?

James Brown:   I honestly don’t know – all I can do is be grateful that anyone might spend their own time listening to it. That blows my mind, the idea that someone might choose to listen to something I’ve created. But if they do that and it elicits any kind of emotional response then that’s incredible and I am thankful.

You remain unsigned but release your material through FOMA that also have Hoopla Blue, Outlander and Repeat of Last Week on their roster. The label also organizes events and offers artists management in house. Can you tell us more about FOMA and the relationship you share?

James Brown:  I’ll pass this over to our beautiful boi Tom

Tom Hewson: I formed FOMA with my brother James Hewson and friend Adam Tomes, who I write music with in Hoopla Blue. We started working with Mutes before the release of their debut LP “No Desire”, which was exciting for us as a label as it was the first time we worked with a band we were not directly involved with. Since then we’ve also worked with Outlander. James self-produced “Pareidolia” before I joined the band on bass duties. The label has become somewhat of a family that share the same values and commitment to our city and the music it offers. It’s all an experiment to be honest. We want to shout about the beauty of Birmingham with each new release and event

The band photographed by visual artist Megan Lewis

Mutes will be going on tour to support the record. Where can we see you live?

James Brown:  Cardiff, Nottingham, Birmingham, Worcester, London, Shropshire, Manchester. It’s pretty drawn out and we’d have loved some more dates up North but we get where we can! I’ve had to book out some of the venues myself so it’s DIY to the bone. I love day trips and playing a gig is like a day trip but with you as the star! And free beer! I mean what’s not to love?

We always get excited when bands come to play in our city of Worcester. For this particular gig you will be supported by SedatedSociety – a project by members of Rubella Moon, Coat of Many, The Americas and Junior Weeb.  That is truly mind blowing! Anything we should be expecting from the performance?

James Brown:  It’ll be loud! I’ve always loved Worcester and have been lucky enough to become friends with some of the bands there – and ones that have flown the nest such as Souer. I absolutely LOVE playing small intimate venues, so I’m really excited to play Paradiddles. Asking SedatedSociety was a given- those guys have been to a couple of our shows and are great, and I like to hand pick line-ups any chance I get. If one person who has never seen us play before has a good night then it’s a success. I have literally played to just the bar staff before and if they’ve enjoyed it then I’m happy. Maybe we can all hit Heroes after and drink too much. I like the low ceiling in there, makes me feel less like a short-ass.

Mutes will tour in support of their new album

Last question: We all say that Birmingham scene is underfunded and not as competitive as Manchester or Liverpool for example. So, if you had a million pounds to throw at the Birmingham music scene – what would you change?  What would you improve?

James Brown:  A million pounds eh? Well, open a new venue- one that’s around 80 cap and has accommodation for touring bands. Put the money into ensuring all bands that play there get some kind of content-based benefit such as a decent quality recording of the set, possibly even filmed too. Maintain a blog that does video interviews. Ensure it’s a safe space for everyone who wants to attend. Keep the toilets clean and the drinks reasonably priced. I love the East Midlands scene – Nottingham, Leicester, Derby. They feel a lot more sincere and less flashy. Dubrek Studios & JT Soar are great examples – Outta Mind Promotions put on a fantastic all-dayer last month and I could play those things every weekend for the rest of my life and be happy. Any money left over I’d love to put into obtaining press and tour support for FOMA artists. You’re really making me want a million pounds now!

You can follow the band on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/mutesuk/
https://twitter.com/mutesmutesmutes
https://www.instagram.com/mutesmutesmutes/
https://soundcloud.com/mutes-1
https://mutesuk.bandcamp.com/
https://mutesuk.bigcartel.com/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZAMKXTW31pxdXjdEW5LmdA
https://open.spotify.com/artist/52mqrsNlDf6CVhB6XJ6LHf?si=jO6sk6uwTk6XONJKEtyKlg

You can also check out  FOMA on socials and give them kudos for supporting independent scene in West Mids

https://www.facebook.com/wearefoma/
http://www.wearefoma.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/wearefoma
https://www.instagram.com/wearefoma/
https://wearefoma.bandcamp.com

Mutes, photography by Megan Lewis

Some additional reading about Mutes:

https://counteract.co/news/brummie-post-punks-mutes-detail-new-album-announce-uk-tour
http://indiemidlands.com/mutes-men-of-violence/

Poster for Mutes/SedatedSociety gig in Worcester

Mutes will play Worcester on June 25th 2019 at Paradiddles with SedatedSociety supporting. This will be first gig for both bands in town and the venue is very intimate so grab your tickets at the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/events/295350488016053/
https://www.wegottickets.com/event/473034

Door time is 7:30 PM and first band is on 8:00-ish. We plan to see some friendly faces. Tickets are £3 (ADV) and about £5 OTD.

Oh boy we cant wait.

M/R

Indieterria meets Dream Phases

Dear Readers,

Winter, winter on the way and our little music project is now two years old. To celebrate this humble achievement of Indieterria, we have reached over the Big Pond to speak to Dream Phases – a band that brings back the most exciting and creative genre in guitar driven music – psychedelic rock. If you look around carefully, you can notice some sort of renaissance on the psychedelia front happening in the last 12 months – with bands such as The Naked Party and Hooveriii in the States and The Cosmics, The Surrenders or The Strawberries in the UK.

It was a pleasure to interview Brandon Graham – vocalist and mastermind behind Dream Phases. Great story teller, meticulous in his answers and his enthusiasm for music is contagious. We hope you will like this chapter of Indieterria. Read on and dig it.

Band logo and European tour poster by Lucy Faery
https://www.facebook.com/lucyfaery

Dream Phases

Brandon Graham (vox, guitar)
Shane Graham (drums)
Keveen Baudouin (guitar)
Dylan Nelson (bass)
Anthony Marks (keys)

Brandon Graham – the voice of Dream Phases
Photo by Michael Haight

Dream Phases are recognized as one of the hottest new psychedelia acts in America. Obscure Sound  described you as “hypnotic melodies of vintage psych-folk and rock with a contemporary pop charm”. Please introduce yourself to readers of Indieterria.

Brandon Graham (Dream Phases) : Thank you. I’m Brandon Graham and I write, record and produce the Dream Phases music as well as sing and play guitar live. We are a group of close friends playing rock n roll based out of Los Angeles. The band is comprised of myself, my brother Shane Graham on drums, Keveen Baudouin on guitar, Dylan Nelson on bass and Anthony Marks on keys.

You have toured Europe in September this year; playing 12 dates across seven countries, with three shows in the UK accompanied by The Blank Tapes. How do you remember the tour? Any stories to tell?

Brandon Graham: Yeah the tour was fantastic, I know we all would like to come back as soon as possible. Everyone in the band was really happy to be travelling around Europe, it was some of my band mates first time in Europe and was quite the experience. There was definitely a lot of highlights and fond memories but one of the funniest was playing a show in northern France. I’m not going to be specific about names but we played a small city in France, that was really beautiful. They don’t get a lot of rock bands, let alone bands from Los Angeles, so everyone was extra excited. The owner of the place we played and stayed at was especially excited, and he treated us fantastic. We probably had the best meal of tour that night. Anyway as soon as we arrived the owner started pouring us drink after drink after drink, and also having them himself as well. As the night wore on he told us, ‘just wait until we close the bar, then the real party will start’. So we are waiting and wondering what is going to happen, but about 5 minutes later we found him totally passed out, and well before he was supposed to close the bar. It was awesome and hilarious, that was a great night. Another memory is that my brother and I literally walked around Paris all night long after our show, it was beautiful to see the city that way. One of the most special parts of the tour was going to visit Keveen’s parents home. Keveen is French and grew up in the northern part of south France. We’ve been playing music together, in different bands, for over 8 years and it was awesome to see where he grew up and to meet his family. We stayed at his parents` house for 2 and a half days and his mom made us two four-five course meals a day. It was unbelievable.

Ready to take over the world? We hope so!
Photo by Michael Haight

We are impressed by how quickly the band works on new material. You started in 2017 and that year seen release of your debut EP “Maybe Tomorrow” on March 28th. In 2018 you have released a standalone single “Easy Love” on April 20th and quickly followed up by another EP “Clear Skies” on September 4th.  Each release comes also in different formats: CD, vinyl, cassette, digital download.  You must be the hardest working band in US!

Brandon Graham: I don’t know about that, but yes we do try to work as hard as we can, mostly so we can continue recording and making more music. The goal is to constantly evolve what we are doing and to try different things. By the time we put something out we are probably onto something else entirely. It can take a while before the music actually hits the public, especially with vinyl releases. We have two albums of material right now that will be coming out over the next several months, one at the end of this year and our proper debut album in spring. We’ll be getting the vinyl version of “Clear Skies” anytime now, and it is combined now with, “Maybe Tomorrow”. The vinyl should be out within a few weeks on Nomad Eel Records.

Brandon, you are known for your work with other bands – Avid Dancer, Blank Tapes, Nacosta. Do you think being involved in so many different project had a positive influence on Dream Phases?

Brandon Graham: It definitely has. It’s opened my eyes to so many different styles and songs, and ways to go about working. It’s also helped keep me focused and budget my time accordingly, to juggle playing in a lot of bands. I’ve learned something valuable from every band that I’ve played with. It has also helped me as a musician enormously, by learning so many different writers songs and parts.

This Californian five piece is regarded by blogs and music journalists as one of the most important bands of the genre at the moment.
Photo by Michael Haight

We want to ask you about our favorite track  – “To Walk Away”.  It has this Beatles-sque quality to it and such moving lyrics. Tell us where was this song recorded  and what is it about?

Brandon Graham: To Walk Away was recorded a couple of different times. Although this is not what it is about, I wrote the song actually as a reaction to when Tom Petty died. I had been listening to his music a lot right before he died, and learning more and more about the simplicity of his lyrics and music. He was an idol of mine growing up, and I was lucky enough to work with him a couple years ago with a band I was filling in with. For a very short time he was a mentor. Right after he died last year I wrote that song and one more, that I have yet to record. The lyric is dealing with the end of a long relationship I was in, and facing the fact that I had to move on, that it was time to let go and to walk away from it. Most of the “Clear Skies” EP is dealing with that time, both shortly before and after the break up. Heartbreak definitely does inspire, I wrote a ton of songs about that.

Dream Phases are sometimes compared to the Naked Party. Are you familiar with their repertoire? Would you agree that there are similarities between both bands?

Brandon Graham: I actually am not familiar with them, but now I’m definitely curious and will look them up. I’m kind of excited to hear them!

We know you have debut album to be released in Spring 2019. Are there any secrets that you can reveal for this interview? What can we expect from the record?

Brandon Graham: We’ve actually been working on it on and off since last December when we recorded most of the basic tracks, and some of the songs date back to my original demo album from two years ago now. We are about to record all the final overdubs and then start mixing it at the beginning of January. Most of the songs, but not all, have been in our live set for a while now, so anyone that has seen us will know some of them. It’s about time to get those songs on tape. The music will encompass similar territory as what we’ve put out so far, but there will be a few dips into some noise pop and shoegaze. Lyrically it is dealing with similar themes as the “Clear Skies” EP, as well as an influence of living in Los Angeles and playing in the local music scene. I can’t wait to finish it!

There is certainly a psychedelic revival on the indie circuit in the UK with  acts like The Surrenders, Raptor, As Mamas or The Cosmics leading the way. Would you like to recommend some new bands from across the Big Pond for our readers? Who is on your psychedelic rock play list at the moment?

Brandon Graham: Yeah I’m stoked that there are so many rad bands making music right now, seemingly everywhere. Some of my favorite local Los Angeles, or California bands are Sugar Candy Mountain, Levitation Room, Cosmonauts, Vinyl Williams, Send Medicine, Cool Ghouls, Hooveriii, and Maston just to name a few. There is seriously no shortage of rad bands operating at this moment. A couple British bands I love are TOY and Ulrika Spacek.

The band in monochrome
Photo by Michael Haight

This will be the most unoriginal question you will hear all week – but we got to ask. If you could record a song with anyone alive or dead – who would you choose for the task?

Brandon Graham:  That’s actually a really tough one because there are some many people I’d love to record with. I guess it would be a toss – up between Elliott Smith and Jimi Hendrix, I love both of them and their studio work and they were both going further and further out in the studio when they died. Also Joe Meek, we could of made some tripped dark voodoo-isa rock `n` roll. For someone today I’d really like to work with Nicolas Vernhes for his work with Deerhunter and Animal Collective. Also would of been amazing to have Geoff Emerick engineer a song, and also be produced by Gary Usher and Curt Boettcher would of been incredible. This is the toughest of these questions for sure!

We are hoping that once your album comes out you will return to the UK for more live shows. But in the mean time – where can people see you play? Any upcoming tours?

Brandon Graham:  If we have a future, we will return to Europe (laughs). At the moment we are done with shows for the year, but we will be announcing three shows for January, with one on Martin Luther King Day, January 21st at the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art (LACMA), which will be rad one! Then we will do some US touring in Spring once our record comes out.

new psychedelia rising – Dream Phases
Photo Michael Haight

The band can be followed on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/DreamPhases/
https://twitter.com/DreamPhases
https://soundcloud.com/dreamphases
https://dreamphases.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/dreamphases/
https://www.songkick.com/artists/8696233-dream-phases
https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/dream-phases/1215078259
https://open.spotify.com/artist/6TN3btKQrSRW2KG6D7LpID?si=JygSTm0RT4SWseqUMHoEmw

If you fancy additional bit of reading about the band, please check out these excellent articles:

https://www.grimygoods.com/2018/06/20/dream-phases/
http://lastdaydeaf.com/exclusive-track-premiere-dream-phases-clear-skies/
http://larecord.com/news/2018/09/18/video-premiere-dream-phases-to-walk-away

That`s all for now. Vanadian Avenue gives Dream Phases a stamp of approval and we hope that you too enjoyed the music and discovering new acts with us. We can only hope that 2019 will prove to be a lucky year and Dream Phases will once again visit our side of the Pond.

Just imagine them tearing the roof off Sunflower Lounge in Birmingham or Night & Day in Manchester.  Yep, we knew you will all agree with us.

Happy party season,

Mal/Rita