Interview with Mutiny Within: Sparks To Flame

My fellow Jerseyite AJ Jacobs from Mutiny Within called me the day after they played the House Of Blues, opening for Arch Enemy in Michigan. It was even colder there than it was in Jersey. AJ gave me a few minutes as the band was loading into their van from the hotel on the way to the next show. We caught up on what’s been going on with Mutiny Within, the history of the band, and MTV’s Jersey Shore. Yep, I kid you not—check it out.

What’s up AJ, how are you?

Freezing my ass off. We’re in Michigan, and I know Jersey is cold but it’s worse here.

How’s the tour going so far with Arch Enemy?

It’s going awesome, they’re such great people. We’re meeting a lot of people. We just had the New York show at Nokia Theater. It was so cool to play at a venue that I have seen so many shows at over the years. We had all our friends there, our family, lots of WSOU people and the whole Roadrunner Records crew.

Speaking of Roadrunner, I remember when they announced signing you back in 2008. It’s been so long since then and now you’re finally touring and getting your album out. What’s the last two years been like and how did your relationship with Roadrunner start?

We owe everything to Mike Gitter [A&R]. He’s the fuckin’ man. He signed us when we were playing the Hamilton Street Café in Bound Brook [NJ]. I was singing for the band at the time when he saw us. We all stayed in touch with him and sent him downloads and eventually we got signed, he helped us with the songs, he showed us the business and got us a manager. When we finished the record, the fuckin’ guy gets canned. We couldn’t enjoy the work together. Now we’re working with Monte Conner. Monte is a genius so I know we’re in good hands.

Mutiny Within started as a Children Of Bodom cover band. Of all the metal bands to dedicate your music career to at the time, why Children Of Bodom?

It was technical, it had keyboards, double bass; it sparked everything off and really made us take things to a technical level. Then, after the years, we started writing our own music, but Children Of Bodom really influenced that music.

Would you say that Children Of Bodom are your biggest influence?

Not anymore, it was just a spark. That was my first metal record, which is why I was inspired as they were European sounding. That was eight years ago. I started backwards, then I started learning about Metallica and Iron Maiden. Usually when kids start with metal they start with Metallica and Iron Maiden. But in my case, Children Of Bodom was my first.

Have you met Children Of Bodom yet?

Not yet, but I’m sure we will.

So you found your singer Chris through YouTube. I guess you have social networking to thank for your band?

Yeah, we were looking for singers on YouTube and we came across a performance Chris did. We reached out to him and we started talking. We sent him some music with no vocals and he added vocals and sent it back to us. We were so blown away. He was the first audition we did. After that we wanted to make sure he was the best one, so we did 40 other auditions. When Roadrunner signed us the line-up was pretty much there. We were still writing and they gave us a deal.

So now you have this English metal lad living in your house in Jersey, what’s he like?

He grew up in Blackpool.

Blackpool? Is that a real place because it sounds metal as hell!

I know, right? I saw his ID, it says Blackpool, and it’s a real place! I wish I grew up in a place with a name as cool as that. Anyhow, Chris was in a metal band and he was the singer there. Once we all agreed that he would join our band, then all the headaches came after that, how is this going to work. He’s now living in my mom’s basement in Edison.

How did you get to choose to work with Jason Bieler? I used to love his band Saigon Kick from the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Mike Gitter did it, I think they knew each other. The guy is genius. He doesn’t like to talk about his Saigon Kick [laughs]. Sometimes we’d pull up a video on YouTube of something from Saigon Kick and he would get pissed. He’s got a good life down there [in Florida]. The guy loves music and he just wanted to make the record as best as it can be, especially being a new band, we were trying to find our sound. He wasn’t telling us what to do, he wanted us to find our sound on our own. It was a really magical experience.

You toured with Soulfly and Prong, and that was one of your first major tours, right? What was it like playing with Max Cavalera and Tommy Victor? Are you a big fan of Soulfly and Sepultura?

I used to go to the mall a lot and would see kids wearing Soulfly and Sepultura t-shirts, so I decided to check them out. We actually got hooked with that tour through Mark Rizzo. We were fans of his solo project, but once we got on the tour they were all nice guys. We learned a lot and they were really nice guys. For a first tour it was great we got to play some big places. Prong and Cattle Decapitation were also on the tour and everyone was really cool.

After this tour with Arch Enemy what are your plans?

We have the Sonata Arctica tour scheduled for April which is confirmed. We’re going to hop on some other stuff. Roadrunner is working to get us on a lot of stuff. And we’re hoping to do a few local dates in-between that time.

What’s your dream line-up to tour with?

Killswitch, Bullet, Trivium. These are all bands we want to follow in their footsteps. And all these bands we want to follow their footsteps, especially Trivium because they started as young as we did and they’ve come so far in such a short time, and they’re all still in their 20s!

How old are you guys?

We’re all in our early 20s. My brother is 19, Drew just turned 21, and I’m 22.

When you’re not touring, what are you doing in Jersey?

I’m a waiter at a restaurant, Bertucci’s Brick Oven Pizza, across from Vintage Vinyl. I’ve been there for three-and-a-half years. Drew works at Game Stop, Brandon works at Rite Aid. [There’s] the English guys, but when they’re here none of them are really working. There’s not much income but we do what we can and hopefully we’re trying to pick up tours. The two guys from England can’t really work.

Oh dude, I’m coming to get some free pizza and booze when you’re home!

That’s cool, I’ll hook you up!

What are some of your guilty pleasures?

I love all kinds of stuff, from death metal to Rihanna and Beyonce.

What about Jersey Shore?

Don’t tell me what happened on the season finale of Jersey Shore—I haven’t seen it yet and I want to see it. I think they’re all pretty great; I like the Ronnie and Sammi relationship.

It was great catching up on Jersey dirt with you, good luck with the band and thanks for your time. Stay warm!

The heat finally kicked in just as you said that in the van! Thanks Jen.

Mutiny Within is out now. Catch Mutiny Within at Vintage Vinyl Feb. 23 and at Looney Tunes in West Babylon, NY, on Feb. 24 and at the Gramercy Theatre in NYC on April 5.