The Metal Minute Awarded 2009 Best Personal Blog By Metal Hammer Magazine

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Take 5 With Dave Mann of Mouth of the Architect

Photo 2007/08 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute

From Hell, Ohio (so they claim), Mouth of the Architect has come up slowly through the underground in the dubbed "post-metal" leagues, combining sonic boom with escapist psychedelia and frequently translucent undercurrents, all set upon the course of recurring ostinato patterns. Having worked their way into the same esteem as their contemporaries Isis, Pelican, Neurosis, Balboa, Rosetta and others, these trippy road dogs have finessed their sound so much their third album Quietly can be considered their most artistic achievement to-date. Pensive and hostile in a shower of echoing vibrato on songs like "Hate and Heartache" and the title track, Quietly's baldfaced duality creates both a crushing and quixotic listening experience, which will undoubtedly translate passionately live.

I had the opportunity to catch Mouth of the Architect last year on the road as openers for Unsane and 400 Blows on the same night I was later offered to cover Heaven and Hell with Megadeth and Machine Head. Sticking to my convictions with the original invitation, I can honestly say I made the right choice. What I saw from Mouth of the Architect that night was enough to hook me beyond my existing impression with their first two albums Time and Withering and The Ties That Bind. Quietly only confirms what I've suspected about Mouth of the Architect, the fact they've astutely mastered this expressive form of metal to such measures they cannot be ignored any longer. Drummer Dave Mann took five with The Metal Minute to discuss the near-misnomer album that is Quietly.

The Metal Minute: I last saw you guys opening for Unsane in Baltimore last summer, not long after Isis had been through with their one-off at The Ottobar, and of course you guys were just as amazing. The thing you both have in common in a live setting is the propensity to submerge yourselves so much into your performances it’s easy for your audience to fall in with you. Describe your perspectives of playing this style of atmospheric metal in a live capacity.

Dave Mann: We really just kind of run on instinct. We all love playing this kind of music because, like you said, it sort of draws you into it. It’s a great feeling to look out and see a room full of people just as mesmerized as you are.

MM: Through your three albums, there’s a dedication to ostinato repeat cycles that allows your band to sculpt meticulously like your peers Isis, Neurosis, Pelican, Red Sparowes and Rosetta. I would say that your newest album Quietly is more subtle with the ostinato loops versus The Ties That Blind, which were more overt in nature. What do you feel using ostinato patterns allow for Mouth of the Architect’s music writing?

DM: Well, repeating patterns and long drones and such have a profound effect on the psyche. Tribal music, religious ceremony, meditation, prayer--all these have an ability to send you somewhere else mentally. Musically, this method allows us to create a space for us to work in that brings out emotion that you can’t elicit with a verse/chorus kind of format.

MM: Agreed, and this is personally one of my favorite styles of metal going right now, though many critics use the blech term “post rock” or “post metal.” If anything, there’s forward-moving though here-and-now progression in this specific form, which allows for more detail and layering than some other styles. How do you feel about this?

DM: I love the fact that there’s a lot of bands like this popping up. We’re all big fans of prog rock, and music that sits just outside of the norm, so no matter what direction this band takes we’ll always play music that we would like to hear. Next year that could be entirely different...

MM: You guys recorded Quietly in Seattle, and judging by the band’s MySpace blog, it was anything but quiet! Put us there in Seattle with the band and how the experience might or might not have contributed to the overall vibe of the album.

DM: Five best friends drive cross country to record the culmination of our winter’s efforts. A big city full of good friends made the experience unforgettable. Although the mood of the album is very dark, we couldn’t have been livelier while recording it. Morale was high--so were we--and I think the album sounds just as it should; like it was recorded by a bunch of crazy bastards!

MM: (laughs) In the four years since Time and Withering was released, Mouth of the Architect has streamlined its sound from the blunt force and aggression underlying that molding effect of the four long tracks on Time, while Quietly is a mixed bag of soothing tranquility and changed-up boisterousness, using the title track for example. Of course, Quietly has scaled back the running time of the songs as well, so give us an idea of how you feel Mouth of the Architect has matured musically between the three albums.

DM: A lot of our earlier writing style was very linear. There were no hooks, I guess you could say. This, for the most part, worked out for us, but we wanted this album to be a bit more memorable. We had all matured as musicians, and felt like it was time to write a good album rather that a bunch of riffs strung together. Every album has had a different lineup somewhat, so that also contributed to the evolution of the band, and the writing process.

Copyright 2008 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute

No comments: