INTERVIEW: MUSH | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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I first encountered Mush through their Mark Riley-championed debut single Alternative Facts. Clocking in just shy of ten minutes, the track’s delightfully deadpan vocals take vicious aim at the Trump administration while sounding something like the British answer to Parquet Courts. Accordingly, Mush appeared destined for a catalogue of driving, lengthy jams, so I was somewhat surprised to find their recently-released EP Induction Party had shifted to a more concise, yet also more jarringly-experimental sound.  

What really sets these six tracks apart are the culmination of singer/guitarist Dan Hyndman’s newly manic, yelping vocals and witty (if sometimes hard to discern) lyrics over weaving guitar lines, both jagged yet oddly groovy. As Hyndman explained, these shifts were something of a natural evolution: “[My vocals] evolved from being low and monotone, which was fine for recording, but actually impossible to get loud enough in that style for gigs; shrill and cutting vocals were far easier to get audible.” Regarding the instrumentation, he explains: “The interweaving guitar stuff, the onslaught of constant guitar licks, has always been the foundation of the band, though it has become more concise. The groovyness is something that we’ve always leaned towards.” Hyndman cites a steady diet of Can, Parliament and Pavement amongst others as subconscious inspirations. 

Certainly a politically-charged act, Mush tend to treat current issues with something of an ironic detachment. “I’ve always wanted to write about politics without necessarily being a political band, I’d like to reserve the right to write an abstract song, or if I ever got round to it a love song. If we’re tackling things like Trump and what’s happening in this country, I try to do it with a slightly comedic sense, so it doesn’t come across as too overtly preachy and virtuous.” An understandable approach to the absurdity of life in 2019 for sure; when asked his opinion on whether the volatile socio-political climate was more inspiring or depressing, he’s undecided: “I change my mind on that from day to day, at the minute it just seems exhausting really.” 

I’ve always wanted to write about politics without necessarily being a political band

Lead single Operation Vaken perhaps piqued my interest the most; skidding to a halt halfway through with an atonal onslaught of disjointed improvisations. It takes its name from a quiet 2013 Home Office campaign involving vehicular billboards patrolling around London to advise illegal immigrants to ‘go home’, that even Nigel Farage described as ‘nasty’. “I don’t actually think I had heard of it at the time it was happening, I stumbled across it whilst down some sort of YouTube rabbit hole and thought ‘oh Christ!’ – just the fact of how under-publicised it was, that was why I wanted to write about it.” 

As if a new EP and embarking on their first headlining tour (which will see them perform at Twisterella Festival in Middlesbrough on Saturday 12th October and The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle on Friday 1st November), weren’t enough, fans can also look forwards to Mush’s debut album dropping early next year. “It’s still relatively rough and ready, but by our standards it’s the longest we’ve ever spent in a studio, so it’s a bit more expansive, possibly more polished sound. The tracks are pretty much all new, apart from a few old favourites, but I won’t give the game away too much…”    

Mush play Twisterella Festival in Middlesbrough on Saturday 12th October and The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle on Friday 1st November


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