Musician, Mike Maimone, talks about Mutts’ new EP “Stick Together” which drops today as well as his influences, coming out and more. “Stick Together” really covers the gamut of musical genres and is an adventure for your ears. It is available wherever you buy music. Check out our interview with Mike Maimone below:
Earle Dutton (ED): Could you tell me about the new album?
Mike Maimone (MM): Well, we put out our last record around the end of 2014. We just kind of hit the road after that one. Over 2015 and 2016 we played about a hundred and fifty shows a year. We noticed that a lot of the bands we were traveling with were calling it quits. Several of our best friends just decided to move on and not to do music as seriously any more. We sort of needed a little motivational thing like “stick together.” It started out as a kind of joke almost. Then we decided to call the next record, “Stick Together.” We started working on it in 2016. We got to record with a really talented engineer, Rick Fritz, at Audio Tree Studios. He is an awesome dude and really likes our band. We just wanted to make a record that was kind of unveiled and direct. We wanted to talk about things like getting together, empathy and a lot of things that have gone by the wayside in the last few years.
ED: How would you describe your music to a new person?
MM: Man, that is a tough one. I guess I would say that we are mutts because we always wanted to have and use a lot of different influences in our music. We don’t really abide by any one particular genre. This EP has five songs that pretty much hit all of the different sides of our group. We go from happy/fun/sing along to dark and intense.
ED: Have you always been so forward in your music?
MM: No, not at all. I think a lot of the songwriters that I love aren’t very direct. One I really love, Randy Neuman, is very cynical and writes in satire. That is something that I have always appreciated. I feel like a lot of the songs I have written especially addressing LGBT subjects have been pretty veiled. I wrote, “Pray Like A Vigilante” in 2012 when the republicans weren’t playing nice with Obama. I wrote that which was kind of the idea that if you can’t win them all, you can’t win at all. It was about how they wouldn’t compromise with anything. It seemed a lot like people were thumping the bible but they weren’t really reading it at all. It was written from the perspective of the republican. The idea was to embody the person you hate to tell the story and expose the hypocrisy there. I think in some places, they just don’t get that type of song. I often wondered if people understood what I meant by the whole thing. I felt after the last election, I had to really come out and say things that I hadn’t before.
ED: How does it feel when people compare you to Tom Waits?
MM: I am definitely honored but I think that I will never really live up to that comparison. It is a little bit like, thank you but I just want to play some rock’n’roll music. I don’t think I will ever be as avant-garde or experimental as he has been. I definitely enjoy Tom Waits. He is one of my favorite artists. I feel that comparing me to him is sort of setting me up for failure. I want to be a different thing.
ED: I realize that the new album is all about sticking together and working with the people you have but is there anyone you would really like to collaborate with?
MM: Yes, I am glad you mentioned it. One of the vibes we had for this record was to have a featured guest on every track. We did get some good friends here in Chicago to join us. We have Archie Powell and Jennifer Hall to help on two tracks. Then we just kind of got lazy even though I shouldn’t say that. We just wanted to get it finished. We have really enjoyed that spirit of collaboration and often have local artist work with us. We have all played with other bands as well. In broader terms, I would love to do something with Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age. I think that guy is carrying the torch for rock’n’roll right now. Everything he does is really good. I can’t wait to hear the new record. My guys would probably cringe at this but I would really love to do something with Beyoncé (laughter). I could just see this amazing soulful ballad there. I think it would be a really fun thing to do.
ED: Do you think that coming out as openly gay has affected your music and songwriting?
MM: I think it has been easier to write the “he” pronouns for me. Whereas, I think everyone has their own coming out story, and for me it was all about being Catholic and from a very conservative area. I think I really compartmentalized everything as a sort of self-defense mechanism. In my mid-twenties I realized that I am attracted to men and that is okay. I was writing songs from the “he-she” perspective. I was writing songs from the “he-she” perspective because that is all I heard and all I knew. Now, I think it has been a lot easier since I have had really great relationships and really horrible breakups including everything in between with men. It feels more natural to write a “he-he” song. I think there needs to be a lot more of that especially in rock’n’roll.
Connect with Mike Maimone and Mutts:
Bandcamp purchase: download.muttsmusic.com
iTunes purchase: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/stick-together-ep/id1260070582
Mutts on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/4SUXa9GOCamAe5fMSxTTao
Mutts on Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/mutts/id334704719
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_SlXzUgr-ngvxbMNsTyeHg
The Mutts’ “Stick Together” really covers the gamut of musical genres and is an adventure for your ears. It is available wherever you buy music.