Every now and then, while I do my monthly “search for new music” routine, I’ll find a band that sticks out to me for whatever reason. This band will catch my eye, or ear, if their name stands out amongst a list of others, or if a song comes on while I’m browsing the web. Then I continue to read about them as I listen to more and more of their music. Shortly before I discovered Kylesa, I was in the middle of a post-rock/post-metal binge, listening to everything from Red Sparowes and Explosions In The Sky to Cult Of Luna and Russian Circles. One band whose name came up frequently was the Dayton, Ohio post-metal outfit, Mouth Of The Architect.
The band has had quite the career, overcoming several lineup changes and forced hiatuses to celebrate their 10-year anniversary this year. Their new album, Dawning, is set to come out on June 25. I recently had a chance to chat with drummer Dave Mann, and we discussed the new album, their upcoming 10-year anniversary, and pre-show margaritas in the interview below:
I read that this new album was recorded at guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks’ studio. Is that right?
Yup. Pretty much all of our other records were recorded by the same guy, except for the last EP that we did. Steve was getting his studio up and running and we figured, “Why not give it a shot?” It was nice to have no time restrictions.
Was there more freedom to experiment since you had your own studio?
There were a couple last minute changes made when we were tracking and things like that. We spent a lot more time on the songwriting process this time, that’s where a lot of the experimentation came from. Although most of it was planned out before we went into the studio.
From what I gather, you guys took a DIY approach to this album compared to other albums like Quietly.
In terms of recording, yes. Technology has changed significantly, and it was just more realistic to do the recording and mixing ourselves. For a moment, we bounced around the idea of self-releasing it as well. Ultimately, we ended up getting the more tedious work done by somebody else (laughs).
Now that you’ve been a band for 10 years, was this album a special milestone for the group, or was it just good to get back to writing and recording like the others?
Kind of both. We took a long break, so we felt like we had to prove something this time around. The last significant tour we did was Europe, about three years ago, and the last full-length that we did was, Quietly, about five years ago. We felt like since it’s been so long, it was a good chance to do it. We were all in the position in our lives where we felt like we could dedicate the time necessary to do it too.
The thing that pushed this album forward was the idea that if everything was on schedule, it would pretty much be dead-on with the 10-year anniversary when it comes out. That was the motivator in getting this thing out.
What’s your favorite thing about being able to write, record, and perform music?
Personally, I think the writing and recording is rewarding in that you put a lot of work in writing, recording, and revising in order to get this idealized finished product. In that respect, I love it just for the creative process.
The writing is the work, the recording is the result, but performing is what I really like. That is where you spend 99 percent of your time as a band, playing the songs, not just trying to record them. My favorite part about that is just doing it, getting that catharsis and expressing something that’s bigger than going to work and making donuts, or whatever it is you do. It’s something intangible and awesome to communicate with people that may or may not feel where you’re at with that. It’s just sort of a great feeling. It’s nice to be in that position.
It must be great to step on stage and see fans cheering to hear songs that you have spent all that time creatively producing.
Yeah, it’s an amazing feeling. Especially when it is unexpectedly good. Like small shows that you are already prepared for the worst, and they usually end up being the best.
Piggybacking on that, do you enjoy playing a specific venue more so than others? Or are they all their own animal?
Probably the latter, they’re all their own different thing. We usually play whatever is thrown at us. We primarily play either at VFWs or like the cool bar in town kind of shows. We did a couple short tours with bands like Mastodon where we played in bigger venues than we were used to. They were great for different reasons. Obviously bigger shows deliver more people.
I enjoy all kinds of shows, really. It’s just about doing it. Expressing something important to you, to other people.
Tell us a bit about what goes on before a show. Are there any special rituals?
It’s been a while and we have had a number of lineup changes over the years, so some rituals have changed as we have. For a long time, our ritual was to basically find a Mexican restaurant in that town and have some margaritas and eat chips and salsa until the club opened up. That often got us into trouble because some places really pride themselves in how strong their margaritas are (laughs).
Our lifestyles have changed drastically over the years. I don’t know what the day-to-day would be like anymore. We definitely won’t be getting margarita drunk anymore.
What has been your favorite experience on the road so far in your career?
We had a lot of them in 2006 when we were touring for The Ties That Blind. That seemed to be the year that everything came together for us. We had a lot of support tours for bands that we were fans of, like Unsane, Mastodon and Intronaut. I think we did like 200 shows that year. I’m also always telling the story when I met the singer of the Dead Kennedys, but it was an awesome punk rock moment for me (laughs).
That’s quite an impressive list of bands. Are there any others that you would like to collaborate with or go on tour with that you haven’t yet?
In the last 10 years, we have played with a lot of bands that we were all fans of. We’ve definitely done some stuff that I was thankful to be a part of. We sort of take it as it comes, you know, we don’t have a wish list or bucket list or anything of that nature. We’re ready to do it with any and every reasonable offer that’s reading this article (laughs).
Just about all of your recordings have been on Translation Loss. What’s it like to have a label behind your back and help you out as much as they have?
It’s been pretty nice. Essentially, I met Drew [Juergens] from Translation Loss when he was working for Relapse. I was in a band that broke up shortly after Mouth Of The Architect got started. Basically when we made a demo, I sent it out to him. He wrote back saying he had a small label that was willing to put it out as a full-length, not a demo.
We’ve never been locked in with a multi-record deal or anything like that. We have been free to do whatever we want, but we usually would end up going back to them because we have been friends this whole time and they treat us right.
You’ll be on tour for most of the summer in the States and over in Europe. What’s next after the tour?
It depends. We may or may not be facing another forced hiatus. This may be the extent of the touring for this record, at least right off the bat. Our plan is to cover as much ground as possible this summer. There are a lot of internet rumors that we break up about every week and a half it seems like, but we are still here, still cranking it out, trying to play as many places as possible. Time will tell on that one, so we will just try to take it one day at a time.
Mouth Of The Architect will play at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn on June 15. Dawning will be available on June 25 via Translation Loss. For more information, go to mouthofthearchitect.com.