Meek Is Murder Music For Troubled Weirdoes

Meek Is Murder Music For Troubled Weirdoes
Photo: Dean Landry
At 13 tracks in under 20 minutes, Meek Is Murder's Everything Is Awesome Nothing Matters flies by in dizzying fashion. It shouldn't be a surprise to those familiar with the New York band, who have released something each year since 2011. This is in addition to touring and continuing on their "normal" lives, which include co-owning Metal Injection, being a sound guy and developing iPhone apps. And for those who aren't familiar? Well, if their newest album is any indication, that won't be the case for long. Maybe they could make an iPhone app for the band to help them along…

Algorithms made some Best of 2011 lists. How do you anticipate Everything Is Awesome Nothing Matters will stack up? What separates this new album from Algorithms?
Guitarist Mike Keller: It's filthier sounding. Algorithms was pretty noisy, but EIANM is just gross.

Bassist Sam Brodsky: Yea, EIANM is a disgusting abomination compared to the sparkly rainbow sunshine unicorn that is Algorithms. Probably only troubled mutant weirdoes will like it.

Speaking of your last EP, Into the Sun Where it Falls Off the Sky featured sci-fi themed lyrics, whereas this one is based on "the most trying year of [Keller's] life." How does the writing process and emotional connection to the songs change with such different topics?
Keller: The lyrics I write are always personal, even if they pass through a seemingly light-hearted allegorical filter forged in science fiction or computers. As the subject matter of EIANM is based on personal events, it didn't seem as appropriate this time around to use such allegory. Instead, I tried to let the events and the emotions surrounding them speak for themselves.

For the new album, you recorded with Kurt Ballou at Godcity for the second time. How has that relationship helped shape your band?
Keller: More than you know. He's undoubtedly the best at capturing the rawness of noisy bands, but beyond that he often has constructive opinions about the songs. That's something that a lot of studio guys either lack the ears for, or they don't trust themselves enough to voice their opinions. He had some great input while we were recording Algorithms, and I think we internalized some of those things when writing Everything is Awesome. We've literally had conversations during songwriting in which someone would say, "Ooh, Kurt would hate that."

Drummer Frank Godla: Kurt is a great match for us. He just locks into who we are and what we do so quickly, and makes us even better at it. Now that we're all comfortable together, it's even easier to joke around and communicate ideas in the studio. It's great to have an outside perspective, even better when you can really trust that opinion as law.

Brodsky: Kurt's a rad dude with strong opinions, a very creative and talented engineer, and musically he's obviously a huge influence. He's of course the ideal engineer for Meek Is Murder. That relationship was strengthened this time around because there were more dogs in the control room, which helped to firm the bonds between us and created a supportive and adorable (but still totally brutal) atmosphere.

How did you team up with Threshold of Pain Records for the vinyl release of EIANM? Should we expect a vinyl release for your last EP too?
Keller: Matt Darcy runs the popular music blog Nefarious Realm so we knew him from that. Incidentally, NR did one of my favourite Meek is Murder interviews in which I was asked a bunch of questions about how I'd react in a zombie apocalypse, so we knew it'd be a good fit. Anyway, he told us about Threshold of Pain and asked if we needed a home for the new album's vinyl release right at the time we started looking. It's been a really easygoing relationship. He has big goals for the new label, and we're honoured to be a part of its emergence.

Mike, how did your experiences in the Red Chord help shape Meek Is Murder into the full band it is today, from the solo project it once was?
Keller: For one, Gunface made me a better guitarist. Playing with such good musicians pushed me to be a much better player than I was before TRC. I'm so good at pinch harmonics now.

The other important lesson I learned was that being a band should be fun. I always loved playing shows, but touring as much as TRC did and having to rely on music as a full-time job was not always fun. Transitioning from a solo project to full band was kind of weird; it's like letting other people into your secret world. It actually helped a lot that I knew Frank from doing the Red Chord interviews before and that he came to me about playing drums. I'm not sure it would've ever gotten off the ground if not for that.

Frank, how has your co-founding and involvement in Metal Injection helped shape the band, especially from a media/business side? How do you balance the two interests?
Godla: I'm fortunate enough to have been part of this industry for almost ten years now and co-own three companies exclusive to metal. It's a huge part of my life and naturally, in that time, I've learned how things work and change behind the scenes. Meek has always been a proud DIY band who enjoy getting our hands dirty and paying our dues though. So my experience and knowledge really just allows us to be a more efficient, hard-working band. If anything, being an active musician has actually had more of a direct effect on what I do with Metal Injection. Many of the themes, people, ideas, questions, etc. you see on there are based on experiences I've had with the band. I wear lots of hats, but I firmly believe each one makes me better at the other.

As far as balancing all of them ... no sleep, lots of coffee, multi-tasking the fuck out of life, and the desire to set and accomplish goals has always been my technique.

I've heard your live show, including a crazy light show, is quite intense. Why did you decide to include the light show, and what can audiences expect from a Meek Is Murder show?
Keller: We've had some form of external lighting since one of our first shows (if not our first, I can't remember). One time I found a bunch of Christmas lights for 50 cents a box because it was summer. We put them all on stage while we played and broke just about all of them by the end. I guess it just escalated from there. I think we just wanted our show to be different and intense, especially since we're a three piece.

Godla: I've always loved the idea of putting on a show and not just playing your songs. I think a lot of bands forget they should try and entertain someone, if no one else but themselves. Our light show and merch booth are little enhancements I started while in a band called Empyreon, a few years before Meek began. Back then I felt it was absolutely necessary because that band was so straightforward. When Meek played our first few shows we only had some Christmas lights, but we all just went nuts, and it was awesome. So when I brought the light rig over to the Meek live show, it was basically a way to make an already crazy show even crazier. We still try and escalate things over the years to keep it interesting. Recently we talked about adding a live donkey in there somewhere.

Brodsky: In addition to the lights, I think we all enjoy making our performance a bit ridiculous. I think Keller kicked a wall once, like a badass. I tend to go a little crazy and occasionally bludgeon the audience with the bass. For some reason, some people tell me it's rad, so I just keep doing it. I've got to get attention somehow (come on, who's actually listening to the bass!?)

I noticed your NYC record release doesn't include any New York bands. What's the current New York scene like? Are there any notable bands you'd like to highlight?
Keller: It sucks, every band sucks. Just kidding, the release show is a CMJ fest show, so they wanted to bring in some cool bands from out of town.

Keller: The scene is great right now. The venues St. Vitus and the Acheron in Brooklyn have really done a lot for it. I don't want to single any bands out because there are too many to mention but literally you could go to either of the aforementioned spots almost any night of the week and hear some cool music.

Godla: The scene in NY is awesome. If you go out to drink and don't run into an awesome band then you're doing it wrong. Metal Injection along with our sister site Metal Sucks does a CMJ fest showcase every year, so while I was booking the showcase it just seemed logical to combine the Meek record release I was working on separately too. CMJ week in NY is just super intense and every venue is packed with shows, so combining the two just made it easier. Nothing against NY bands at all.

Brodsky: Yeah, the record release is a CMJ show so it's all crazy. But there are many rad bands in and around New York, and we're playing with two of them the following week: East of the Wall and So Hideous. Of course our girlfriends in Tiger Flowers are awesome. I'm a huge Krallice nerd, and other Colin Marston projects such as Dysrhythmia and Behold the Arcotpus are also amazing. Tidal Arms rules. Bangladeafy is face melting. Torrential Downpour. Fucking Kiss Fucking WuTang!

In an interview for Blow The Scene, you said you'll be writing for a split Christmas EP. Who's that split going to be with, and what will the content include (Christmas covers or originals)?
Keller: Covers and originals. Thanks for reminding me; I should start writing this.

Brodsky: Christmas is also my mom's birthday, so we may shred out some holiday-flavoured birthday grind.