Mouth of the Architect | Interview with Steve Brooks

[Mouth of the Architect]

US post-metal experimentalists Mouth of the Architect are about to hit Europe for the first time in their career bringing with them a new EP called “The Violence Beneath” to peace the hunger of their devoted fans anxiously awaiting for the successor of their brilliant third album “Quietly”. An unprepared David Alexandre tries to find out more information about this new work, which opens a new chapter on the band’s career from guitarist and vocalist Steve Brooks through e-mail, who is more than willing to make some corrections.

It's been almost two years since we've last heard from Ohio’s Mouth of the Architect in the form of new material. The band has been touring heavily in support of their critically acclaimed third full length work “Quietly” and even right now they’re getting ready to hit the road for a full European tour.
Surprisingly, despite all the time spent on a van the four-piece are about to issue a new EP called “The Violence Beneath” that serves as stop-gap release while we’re still waiting for a new full-length work.

“It does seem like it's been a while but we typically release an album every two years or so. This new EP is actually over thirty minutes long. It could've been considered a full length, but it only has 4 songs on it, and one is a cover. So it's an EP. We'll probably release a new full length sometime in the next couple of years. I hope that doesn't piss anyone off.”

Thank you for taking time to answer these questions as you gear up for a new tour. Are you looking forward to play before a European audience for what I believe it’s the first time?

“Thanks you for asking the questions. Oh yeah, we're definitely excited about going to Europe for the first time as a band. We keep hearing good things from other US bands about how touring in Europe is so much better than in the US and we're finally going to go find out for ourselves. Two of the members have been to Europe before touring with bands, but it's the first time for the rest of us and we are really ready to go. (Dave went with Dead Blue Sky and Kevin went with Twelve Tribes). I'm excited just to experience different cultures and people and go to countries with a real history... and play some fucking rock 'n roll in the process.”

You’ve been touring incessantly since “Quietly” came out in 2008, how do you keep the energy up when you spend life on the road for several months straight?

“Well, we actually haven't been touring as much as you might think these last couple of years. Since "Quietly" came out we have done a month with Today is the Day, a month and a half with Intronaut and Behold… the Arctopus, a few weeks with Zoroaster, and a few weeks just us headlining. (There might be something I'm forgetting about, but not much more than that). We needed to take some time off from being on the road as much as we used to. We were all kind of in bad shape after "Quietly" came out, just with life in general. We needed some time to work, hang out with our girlfriends and get things in order a bit. When we did used to go on the road for extended periods of time it wasn't really hard to keep up the energy because you just kind of get used to it. I don't know how to explain it really, but living in a van and not really having a home, being somewhere different every night just starts to feel normal. We would go back to the same cities/venues so much that we had friends everywhere we went. It was really just like one big, long party.”

Such touring ethics have made some casualties throughout the years with a number of members leaving the band, is it hard to cope with all the hardships of a touring band like Mouth of the Architect, do you ever break into fights more or less serious?

“We have definitely had our share of fights and drama with people leaving the band or getting too drunk and doing stupid shit or whatever. We're all just a bunch of crazy nerds. I'm not going to go into any details right now, but yeah it's hard to deal with. We have had some seriously terrible moments with drinking and drugs and people fighting, quitting the band, or ending up in jail. Good times!?”

Going back to “Quietly”, it garnered some incredible reactions all from around the globe. You must be pretty pleased with the critical response so far?

“Really!? I hope it went over as well as all that! I've seen great reviews, horrible reviews, and the same old stuff about that album. We "sound like Neurosis and Isis" one day and we're "taking post metal to a new level" the next. We just make music we love and put everything we have into it and see what comes out. We had a lot of time in the studio and a great engineer/producer for "Quietly". Chris Common you rule. Sorry we couldn’t afford to do the EP with you this time. Anyway, yeah I hope everyone likes the album and will continue to check out or music and come support us on the road.”

A lot of people were surprised at first to see you returning to a less accessible song writing that somehow remounts to your early days isn’t that so?

“I've heard that a million times and I just don't agree with it. In a lot of ways the song writing and structure is more complex than on "The Ties that Blind" ...just in a different way. I think people just found out that Alex was back in the band for "Quietly" and their conclusions of the album were based by that. Alex did play a part in writing the album but it wasn't like we dropped everything we had and changed our whole sound and writing process to make the songs sound like "Time and Withering." Actually exactly the opposite, Alex and I sat down and said that we wanted to write something completely different. We used to sit around the house and play guitar and talk about writing the prettiest, heaviest album ever. I don't know if we hit that goal but it turned out the way it did because of a group effort to make a great album and where we were all at mentally and emotionally during that time in our lives. We weren't very happy if you couldn't tell.”

Meanwhile, there’s a new EP in the pipeline featuring Joe Lester from your touring buddies and kindred spirits Intronaut on bass. What can you tell us about “The Violence Beneath”? It’s a collection of new songs or it’s made up of songs that were lying around unfinished?

“Well, "The Violence Beneath" is not an album as a whole like "Quietly" was. It is comprised of two brand new songs, a live recording of a new song that was never released, and a cover song. We did this album more just to put something new out and to have some fun with it. We love the new songs but we didn't want to put the time and effort into writing a whole comprehensive album like we have in the past. We did this album in a short period of time with a small budget and just had fun with it. The new songs are a lot different than anything the band has released in the past. We did that on purpose... it was like a new beginning for us after all the disastrous member changes and everything. We wanted to do something that was still MOTA but didn't "sound like Neurosis and Isis" and was something that we could have fun experimenting with. A lot of tracks were recorded at different times in different places so it is kind of a collaboration album. It was great to have our friends do the whole thing with us. Our friend Chris Fullam did the cover art, John Lakes engineered it and played bass on the cover song, our good friend Joe Lester played bass on the new songs, and we got to release all the material that we had been working on so we can start from a clean slate with a new record.”

Have you already started thinking or writing for a new full-length album yet, if so how are the new songs shaping up and how do they stand against the previous works?

“We have actually started jamming on some new stuff and it's going really well. I think the newer stuff still sounds like old MOTA but has a bit of this new record sound in it as well. We have the slow drony heavy riffs but a lot of it is really melodic and has a lot more singing/ yelling rather than the harsh screaming. We also have been putting a lot more energetic faster riffs into the songs to change it up a bit. We just like to write music and we'll keep on doing it until we're too old to play our instruments... however it ends up sounding we'll be happy with it.”

Considering that guitarist Alex Vernon had a big input in the writing of “Quietly” and he is no longer with the band, to where do you see the band’s sound growing to in the upcoming future?

“There again, everyone just perceives that since Alex came back into the band "Quietly" was all him. Not true. He did have input into the songs, but we didn't change anything drastically because he came back. He had more input into the lyrics than anything actually. He really does have a way with words that can make you want to go cry and kill yourself or whatever but the album was written as a band, like we always write. Someone always has to have the riffs or melodies that will shape the song but in most cases that wasn't Alex. The new songs are written with exactly the same formula. We bring some riffs together and we jam on them to feel them out and form them into songs. Everyone in the band has a say and puts their own ideas, riffs and structures into the songs. We are going to take our time before releasing a new record and it will be the best record MOTA has ever done.”

Is there any guiding principle whenever you start approaching the writing of a new record like for example not repeating the same things over and over again?
Do you feel that music has to be challenging or let me rephrase the question do you feel that MOTA’s approach to writing music has to be a continuing challenge for all of you?

“I personally don't feel that the music HAS to be anything. As long as we are happy with what we're doing then that's all that matters. The song writing process has evolved from the beginning and it will continue to evolve to the circumstances that we are in at the time. Writing music is a challenge. Working with other people and somehow getting something real out of a group of people's ideas is definitely hard, but it is also really fun and rewarding. I just hope that no one dies or loses an appendage or gets arthritis or something stupid so we can keep on writing music until we're 60 years old and senile. We're gonna invent a new kind of rock... give it a few years.”

David Alexandre

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