Every Monday we will be bringing you interviews with unsigned UK or Ireland artists for Independent Music Monday. Recently we caught up with James from unsigned Birmingham band Mutes to find out more…

Who is in the band, how did you meet, where are you from and how did you come up with the band name?
Hi! So my name is James- I play guitar, sing and do electronics on record. Craig plays drums, and Tom plays bass! We’re from Birmingham, UK. The current incarnation is probably the 37th thus far- Mutes started as a solo project for me (and still operates that way sometimes). I’ve been subjected to jokes about revolving doors and The Fall. But this is the strongest form we’ve taken yet I think- we haven’t started hating each other just quite yet. The band name came about because Muse were big at the time and so I wanted us to be found next to them in Virgin Megastore. Solid plan.

Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
When I was younger my favourite albums were Dido’s ‘No Angel’, Jamiroquai’s ‘Traveling Without Moving’ and Linkin Park’s ‘Meteora’. I was also the only kid on the block with the uncensored version of Limp Bizkit’s ‘Hot Dog Flavoured Water’, which I now credit to by excessive use of expletives in everyday life. Nowadays I am a lot tamer and less partial to music made by misogynistic bumholes- recently I’ve been on a Scott Walker kick, loving the latest White Fence and Drahla albums, and particularly digging Creedence. ‘Bad Moon Rising’ is in my top 5 songs of all time.

How would you describe your sound?
I think we run the gamut- live we’re a power trio and pretty noisy- garage, krautrock, lashings of drone. On record it all entirely depends on what the artistic and social impetus behind the release is, who’s in number 10… who am I kidding? We’re part of the lo-fi indie rock revival scene that worships at the alter of Guided By Voices and Sonic Youth. Desperately trying to get that Sebadoh tour. But we do it well, I tell thee.


What is your latest release called and what was the influence behind it?
Okay I’ll be sincere for a sec. Our upcoming LP is called ‘Pareidolia’ and I’m very happy with it. I recorded and mixed it entirely in my old rehearsal space and played everything but drums (handled by Junior Laidley). It’s a collection of songs written between 2016 and 2018, in which my landscape shifted dramatically- job losses, breakups, cutting my hair, being on the dole, all the good stuff. As a result, I do feel it’s as multi-faceted as any sentient-being should be, and I’m truly proud of it.

What’s your local music scene like?
There’s good bits and bad bits. Some great bands and some utter shite. Way too much ‘garage rock’. We get it- you like Thee Oh Sees and The Velvet Underground, slow clap. So like anywhere else really. It’s not as DIY spirited as I’d like, and there’s a lot of nepotism and sycophantic behaviour. I wish it was based more on music and not who you get on the sesh with but what do I know- I’m getting old.

What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
We release the album through our bass player’s lovely label FOMA on June 21st and are doing a tour of the UK over the following months! We also plan to record again before the rest of the year. We’d love to play festivals but we can’t afford to pay anyone to put us at the top of the pile, sadly.

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Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
I don’t think I’m worthy of working with anyone I admire, but I would love to watch the following people work and take notes- Laurel Halo, Grouper, Dan Boeckner, Bradford Cox, the Cohen Brothers, Cormac McCarthy. I also am thankful for the Joe Rogan Experience as I love hearing intelligent and sometimes radical people talk (not condoning radicalism of any sort). There’s too much going on in the world to even comprehend but you may as well get as many angles of it as possible. It’s the only way to lead an informed life, as long as you don’t believe everything you come across.

Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
I am constantly embarrassing myself- ‘going for it’ too hard and screwing something up in the process. When we supported my favs No Age I stood on a monitor, came crashing off it and still have the scars on my knee. In a small venue to around 40 people. There’s video evidence. Have also done power slides on my knees and ripped cables out at vital points as a result. And spilt beer onto plug strips causing a cut to power for the main stage at a festival- and we were the first band on. So yeah, I’m a liability. If you can’t handle me at my worst etc.

What is the one thing that you want readers to know about you?
That if you check out our music as a result of reading this then I am so incredibly grateful and truly do thank you with all my heart!

You can find out more about Mutes via Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Twitter or YouTube. You can pre-order Mutes' upcoming LP ‘Pareidolia’ here.