Confessional MUTEMATH Album Embraces Love and Anxiety
Mark C. Austin
Paul Meany, the lead singer of MUTEMATH, seemed almost over-prepared to talk about the video for the band’s latest single “Monument.”
The emotional, short documentary-style film, which has gone viral with the help of Ellen DeGeneres, features Charles “LaLa” Evans. He built a shrine to his widow, to whom he was married for more than 59 years, in his Starkville, Mississippi home. The song was written before Evans and the quartet had crossed paths. After meeting the retired mailman, the happily married Meany knew Evans embodied the theme of the song: a love determined to stand the test of time. When people see the moving clip, they’re compelled to share their own love story. “It’s why we made the video and wrote the song in the first place,” Meany states emphatically.
Meany seemed hesitant to tell the story behind “Composed,” another track from the indie rock band’s 2015 return-to-form album Vitals. It won’t win the hearts of daytime talk show hosts, but it is just as compelling. Years ago, Meany started having debilitating panic attacks.
“I get trapped in my head a lot,” he says. In the song, he describes the experience with soulful falsetto, crying “who’s that panicked stranger on his knees,” only to find someone who keeps his head afloat to give him hope.
The song is written in a relatable way. He’s been able to control his anxiety thanks to his family and simply getting older. Despite approaching 40, once in a while he’ll overthink a situation and “slip into the cage.” Worries enter his mind and he fears that his well of inspiration will run dry.
While Meany says he feels a euphoria when he can write himself out of his anxiety, it’s apparent in his voice that just talking about it causes him concern. “Creativity is a mind game,” he states, “[Panic] can cloud the whole process of why you are inspired in the first place.You have to learn how to turn that off. I can’t say it’s something I really know how to do. I drastically fall though it and hope I make good music.”
Once, he was so paralyzed with terror he couldn’t walk onstage, but music has helped free Meany from his anxiety, and it shows in MUTEMATH’s joyful live shows. “It was very easy in that moment refocus on the music I was playing at the time,” Meany describes, “Music has become the only thing I can run to in most instances. The band was founded on the particular concept to stop the overthinking and get out of the formulas and cycles we feel compelled to repeat. “[Music] is one of the purest forms of spirituality. It aligns everything: mind, body, and soul. I certainly depend on it for that.”
MUTEMATH is scheduled to perform Tuesday, March 1, at Crescent Ballroom.
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