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Mudd: Into the Muddverse

Alternate Titles: Getting Muddy, Mudding Out, I’m Gonna Mudd, Stuck In The Mudd, etc.

Interview conducted by Julian McLaughlin

Mudd in the flesh. Left to right: Vince, Collin, Steve, Nick. 

Nick: …there’s a lot of times in practice where we’re just d***ing around, we’re jamming– y’know– and we all just get on that same page and we just– we have conversations with our instruments, in a way, like a really cheesy way. It’s like– f***in’ sweet whenever I set up something and everyone follows when Vince starts playing something and Collin starts soloing– and, y’know, it’s nice having a drummer that’s a bassist ‘cause he’s just always in the pocket.

JM: Yeah.

Nick: And we just got this, like, rare, like– y’know, we all speak the same language, musically.

JM: You’ve got synergy.

Nick: Yeah. And it’s really not hard to throw together a song. I mean, we threw together “Mr. Brightside” the day essentially before our show–

JM: Yeah.

Nick: And we just– we just f***in’ threw it together.

JM: No, that was a– that cover ruled, dude. Like, holy s***. The crowd was alive out there.

Vince: It’s a great song. 

Collin: Yeah, it really gets the white people going.

MUDD, collectively: [Loud laughter.]

I first saw Mudd several Fridays ago, at a house show just four addresses east of High. I was there mostly because it was free and because I wouldn’t need a Lyft home. My expectations were tempered accordingly. 

Mudd was the first act, and within minutes, I found myself fixated on the stage. Their performance was downright electric. The band cut a commanding presence, with the frontman (Vince) singing his honest heart out– and with the lead guitarist (Collin), bassist (Steve), and drummer (Nick) providing such energetic instrumentals that I felt the rare compulsion to actually engage in a vague dance. For someone like me, who’s ordinarily about as fluid as a two-by-four at shows, that’s a serious achievement. They closed out their show with the biggest crowd-pleaser I’ve ever seen– the aforementioned cover of “Mr. Brightside”– and left to tumultuous applause and constant cries for an encore.

The day after, I did some basic fact-finding. They formed about two months ago here in Columbus, and describe themselves as indie-rock, with psychedelic influences (which, as far as I can tell, is pretty darn accurate). What I saw was only their third show, which roundly surprised me, and sent me prowling through their Instagram for their upcoming dates.

Cut to about a week later and I’m sitting on a footstool in the duplex where half of Mudd lives, with the rest of the band split between an armchair and a couch. They’ve got a show tonight, and of course I’ve got to do an interview.

JM: So! First question, I guess: your first original is premiering live tonight, right?

Vince: Yes. First two!

JM: First two? S***! I heard the process of making those was kinda chaotic. I got that vibe from your instagram.

Vince: Yeah. We, uh– finished it last night.

Nick: Well, “finished”. It’s still in a temporary format.

JM: Temporary format. Yeah, f*** it dude– who cares?

Nick: Right.

Vince: We have some that are, like– kinda filler lyrics that we may end up keeping. May change.

JM: You’re doing it live. You’re winging it, basically.

Vince: All the music’s been done for, like, a while– it’s just the lyrics we’ve had to finish. And we just got to a point last night where we were like, yeah, this is good enough to play for people, so we’ll just go with it.

JM: I mean, it doesn’t need to be perfection. It’s your first show, a house show, all that. You’re not, y’know, in front of twenty thousand people.

Vince: It’s just for the vibes.

JM: It’s the vibes.

Vince: People will like it, I think.

Collin: It’s a good place to kinda test what we’re gonna do. So if something, like– if we lose the crowd during one of our originals, then we’re gonna be like okay: maybe we need to tweak some stuff. But if everyone is clearly vibing with it, then like, okay– this is good, this is ready to go on Spotify. 

Vince: Yeah.

JM: So it’s sort of a proving grounds. You’re testing out your style in this.

MUDD, in unison: Yeah.

Vince: So one of the singles is very much, like an indie rock jam at the start– a very, like, light, happy one– and it kinda turns into a panic attack, like bad trip, acid rock kinda vibe at the end.

Nick: Every lyric in that song you can take as either falling in love or, like, tripping.

JM: Literally tripping? Like, just falling?

Nick: Yeah.

JM: Very literal.

Vince: The other one’s very 70’s-disco-y.

JM: I love disco. You’d better lead with that one.

Nick: It’s got, like, a slow ballad part– a 6/8 ballad– Collin plays a screaming guitar solo… 

Nick: It’s a sudden change of pace, but it somehow works. It just hits. We’re not sure why, but it’s one of those things we’re just like, damn, alright, we’re doing that.

JM: But that’s the direction the song takes you in, y’know? Where the art leads you, per se.

Vince: Yeah, that’s kinda how we wrote the lyrics for it– like, the entire first part up to the ballad is a very jumpy, disco-y vibe. The theme of it, like, is seeing a person at a party– that one person you just get obsessed with, like instantly, love at first sight kind of thing.

JM: Yeah, you latch onto them.

Vince: Yeah. And you just kinda, like, wanna talk to them– but you don’t know who they are, and like–

JM: It’s a huge gamble. A huge risk.

Vince: And then the ballad just kinda breaks out of nowhere and it’s just kinda like the [snaps fingers] snap of, like, heartbreak. Like, you just got rejected.

JM: Aww. Brutal. F***ing brutal.

Vince: It goes poorly.

JM: It goes poorly. You fumble it. You f*** up.

Vince: Exactly. Missed his shot.

JM: So, I heard from Vince that only you and Collin knew each other beforehand.

Vince: Me and Nick.

JM: Right! You and Nick, sorry. 

Steve: We live here. So it was pretty convenient.

JM: You guys met over GroupMe, right?

Collin: Yeah!

JM: So how did that work out? Just responding to an offer on GroupMe?

Steve: It’s a crazy story.

Vince: So, yeah– me and Nick have always, like… We lived together three years ago in the dorms. My freshman year, his sophomore year. Like, lived across the hall, met, obviously shared a passion for music– talked about it and stuff. We were always like, yo: we might do some music, have a band together some day. “If you ever have a band, I call being a drummer.” [he said.] I was like, okay: you get dibs.

Vince: At the beginning of summer, I had, like, solo music that I did by myself. But I wanted to start doing live music, and like, have a group to do it with. It just seemed more, like, fulfilling. So I was like: I need to start a band. So I talked to Nick and I was like: I’ll try to find some guys. And I just sent a message in the Musician’s Collective GroupMe, and I was like: hey. Trying to start a band. Looking for a guitarist and a bass player. If you’ve got that, let me know. And Collin responded: yeah, I got a guitar, and my roommate plays a little bit of bass. And they came and jammed with us– and it just kinda clicked.

JM [to Steve]: And you were the roommate.

Steve: I’m the roommate. Yeah. I play the bass in the band, but I’m a drummer– so…

JM: I mean, if it works, it works, right?

Steve: Before we, like, went to our first jam, though, Collin– he was like hey, Steve, don’t make fun of the drummer if he sucks.

MUDD, as a whole: [Laughter.]

Steve: I was like: okay! And then I heard him play the drums, and I was like okay. I was willing to take a backseat here. I’m just happy playing drums in my band.

Collin: Steve and I’s path to this was pretty hilarious. We were in this band since freshman year, together– I was guitar, and singer, and he was on drums. And see, with this band for the very first show, there was a s*** ton of people there.

JM: I mean, I heard, right? Vince told me you had packed houses all the way through.

Collin: Yeah. When we played– the last show we played with that band… 

I get momentarily confused about what “this band” refers to. (He means Mudd.) Back on track, a few seconds later:

Collin: It was called Air Friars.

JM: Air Friars! Should’ve kept the name, honestly. Mudd is not bad– but Air Friars?

Collin: Oh yeah, and the friars– F.R.I.A.R. Like, the monks.

JM: That’s actually really funny, honestly.

Collin: Yeah, we were just playing, like, some not-cool music. Like, some Ween…

JM: F***in’ Ween.

Steve: It was a weird combination.

JM: The coward’s Weezer.

Collin: Oh, y’know, we did play some Weezer too. Okay, the last– the last show, maybe ten people there– it was a Sunday, it was pouring rain.

Steve: It was terrible.

Collin: And we were covering Stone Temple Pilots’s “Sex-Type-Thing”. Y’know, it’s a song.

JM: Yeah.

Steve: It’s a very heavy grunge song.

Collin: Yeah. And so I was just, going, like, [bestial grunge growling], like that, and there were people just way the f*** over there, ‘cause they were not close.

JM: God! That’s so depressing.

Collin: They were like– unhappy. People were on their phones.

JM: I mean, I know for a fact that there is nothing that nukes vibes faster than an unreceptive audience. 

Collin: Oh, yeah.

JM: Like, I’ve been to some bad shows in my time. It’s awful for everyone involved.

Steve: So yeah, that was sorta our hopeless rock bottom, musically.

JM: That was your last straw, basically.

Collin: Well, we had two other gigs.

Steve: Yeah. We played two other gigs, we separated from the other guys in the band. It was pretty low.

Collin: Yeah. It was like my solo songs I wrote, and Steve was like– drumming.

Steve: Yeah.

Collin: We did, like, two covers, I think. And then there was the other– the other one sucked too. I had one person that showed up for that. And everyone else there was there for the other band. They didn’t even acknowledge us when we were playing.

JM: That’s f***ed up.

Collin: And yeah, so: long story short, we’re very glad to be in this.

JM: So what’s the process been like, per se– coming together as a band? Going from GroupMe to here?

Nick: Well, when we first started the jams, we got dinner at Roosters.

Vince: Roosters.

Nick: And we were kinda like: alright, this is gonna be a thing.

Vince: It was, like, our role setting.

Nick: Yeah. We were like: what are we gonna do? And basically, y’know, this was over the summer, back in like June– and we were like: well, we’re all relatively free on Tuesdays and Thursdays by, like, six. At this time, I was living in a house that had an outdoor upstairs balcony that had juuuust enough room to fit us four. Like, it was cozy.

Nick: So we just started picking songs that we liked, and started throwing together a cover set of, like, stuff that we liked. And Collin got us a gig at Ruby Tuesday’s at the end of July, right. And so we had– the twenty-eighth of July, we were like… Well, maybe not that close. It was within a week where we were like: f***, we need to come up with a name for what we’re doing. And we had it down to like sixteen [names], fifteen of which were some sexual innuendo. 

Vince: Girth.

Nick: The sixteenth was Mudd. Girth was one of them. 

JM: Girth. Just Girth.

Nick: And we were like: f***, dude. We all kinda decided Mudd had the most marketability. You can do a lot with the name Mudd…

JM: Like, I’m saying: [you can see that in] the puns you guys deploy with stuff like Muddverse and s***.

Nick: Yeah.

JM: I’m thinking of naming the article I’m Gonna Mudd.

Vince: Nice. [Chuckles.]

Nick: So, we played the Ruby Tuesday show, not really knowing what to expect. I mean, our Instagram had, like, a hundred followers or so. We had a lot of people saying they were gonna come, and we were expecting fifty percent.

Nick: And we packed the house. And after we finished playing– there were two bands playing after us– like, most left. So it was like: holy s***, we already have an audience.

Nick: And then, y’know, a couple weeks later, we played this house show for this guy’s birthday– and it was absurd.

Vince: That show was really crazy.

Nick: That show was easily two-hundred, three-hundred people. So many people we couldn’t even fit them in the backyard.

Vince: We had people, like, out in the alleys, looking over the backyard fence.

Steve: It was, like, a six-foot tall fence. They were hanging on over the edge.

JM: Hanging over the privacy fence just to get a glimpse of Mudd.

Nick: Yeah, exactly. And basically, from those two gigs… The exposure we had from such a big crowd was what sparked the momentum [snaps fingers] and got our manager’s attention. That was what took us from, like, trying to throw this thing together– where we put a set together, we sound pretty polished, we’re gonna try to get shows– to like, okay, now we have shows pretty much every week into October, and we have a manager, and now we’re just pushing for growth. We’re trying to, y’know, eventually bridge that gap of being a campus band to being an established band.

JM: Go from the DIY scene to a proper band.

Nick: Yeah. We wanna move away from, like, that campus vibe. And that’s another thing too: a lot of bands, y’know, they do really well on the campus scene– with students, and even the local clubs. But eventually, it fizzles out. We wanna take this as far as we humanly can.

Vince: It also has to do with people having different goals. For some people, I’m sure, it’s just like a for-college thing– and then they graduate, get jobs.

Nick: So they’re all accountants now, or whatever the f***…

JM: You’re shooting for the moon.

Vince: We want to make this our job.

Nick: None of us wants to work a 9-5. We all just want to be delinquent and play songs.

Vince: Play silly Mudd moments for our fun little crowds. 

Collin: Silly Mudd moments.

Vince: Be silly little guys.

Collin: That’s our thing now– silly Mudd moments.

JM: Silly Mudd moments.

Collin: What if we kissed at the Mudd show? What if we held hands at the Mudd show?

JM: That’d be a very silly Mudd moment.

Vince: Common Mudd W.

Nick: We’ve been practicing, like, twice or three times a week– and outside of that, too, on our own.

Vince: It’s pretty much our only free time. [Chuckles.]

Nick: Yeah. Every free second we get, we’re together, or we’re texting, like: we need to be practicing this, we need to do lyrics for this. It’s a very, like…

Vince: Business-like approach.

Nick: It’s a very business-like approach. Now, that being said, we are very, like, f***in’ free spirit-type people. [Sips from Monster previously left untouched on table.]

JM: I mean, you’re chugging a Monster right now, right?

Nick: Yeah! But that being said, [we do operate with] some respect.

JM: You approach it with respect and energy. Like, a measure of professionalism, even if you’re not wearing suits.

Nick: Exactly. Couldn’t’ve said it better. That’s exactly it.

I hang outside the Mudd duplex for half an hour, before heading to the AROUSE Welcome Back show– where Mudd are scheduled to play tonight. This is, coincidentally, literally next door to the (screw it, full send) Muddplex. I amble in at 7, and the music kicks on at 8. The sky goes from blue, to amber, to black.

JM: Well, that’s most of the big questions I had– unless any of you wanna, like, scream into the void.

JM: I mean, I need something funny to lead the article, y’know? If you’ve got something crazy to say.

MUDD, in unison: [Sinister laughter.]

JM: Oh god. I made a mistake, didn’t I?

Mudd live at the Welcome Back Show. 

It’s just after 11, and I’m feeling four hours of mostly-standing (barring a folding chair I copped somewhere between the second and third acts). Throw that in with an oncoming case of frat flu, and the fact that my water bottle ran dry a half-hour ago (with a downright biblical line for the bathroom) and I’m barely functional. 

One of the organizers walks on stage, grabs the mic, and shouts:

“Give it up for the last act of the night– Mudd!”

The band filters onto stage. My throat is killing me. Any part of my body that is capable of being uncomfortable, tired, or sore generally is. 

It takes them roughly ten minutes or so to get set up.. The crowd thins a little, but there’s still a serious audience around.

At around 11:24, their first song starts. It’s a cover, but right after that is the Mudd original “Losing Time”. It’s everything I’ve grown to expect from the band, and more. The vibes are immaculate, and the audience responds, showing an enthusiasm I thought impossible three and a half hours deep in a backyard house show. A mosh pit that formed earlier for Cellar Dwellar starts moving again. 

It’s difficult to describe the energy of a Mudd show when you’re there, living it in the moment. What my mind reaches to is “clean”. They have an effortlessly polished and straightforward indie-rock sound that’s impossible not to enjoy. To a degree, the fact that they’re just having fun really reflects itself in their performance. When you’re at a Mudd show, you’re hearing the sound of a band who’s there, first and foremost, to tear it up– and f*** it, they figure. Why not have a great time in the process?

The third song of the set is Mudd’s “Mothership”: a song Vince “wrote before Mudd even existed.” They own it, regardless. Towards the end, the crowd is really, genuinely, engaged: they sway phone flashlights and lighters to the la-la-la of the song’s outro.

Nick: I think the thing that Mudd is kinda doing, without us… I mean, we’d love for this to happen, but I think what’s kinda just happening– I think a community’s gonna be built kinda around what we’re doing. And I think Mudd’s going to grow into something bigger than just a band. Y’know, it might turn into more than just, like–

Collin: A cult.

Nick: A cult! Exactly.

JM: A cult. Let’s go.

Nick: Like, y’know, we really–

Collin: [strums guitar]

Nick: – think there’s a lot of room, and a lot of money to be made. A lot of room, to really squeeze into [all] that– has to do with the music industry. That, like, isn’t necessarily just being a good band, but turning that into more than just being a dumb band. I think that’s something we haven’t really seen happen a lot.

JM: You think Mudd’s going to be a phenomenon.

Nick: I think– I think there’s gonna be a Muddverse.

Steve: I believe in Mudd.

JM: I believe in Mudd.

Vince: I strongly believe, like… I think there’s just a high level of marketability. Not even from like– we’re not like “oh, Mudd is such a great concept, we can make so much money with it”. I think it’s just the fact that people can come to our shows and tell that we’re just, like, genuinely enjoying ourselves.

Nick: Yeah. Like, the reason we do it is because, like– we’re not doing this because we wanna make it big, we’re doing it because we think it’s fun and we know we have a chance.

Collin: …it’s just a good f***in’ group, man. I think we got something good going.


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