Interview: Mutemath's Paul Meany talks "Hutch," losing drummer Darren King, hurricanes and more before St. Pete show at Jannus Live

Tour in support of 'Play Dead' is the band's first since drummer Darren King's departure.

click to enlarge Mutemath, which plays Jannus Live in St. Petersburg, Florida on September 30, 2017. - Nathan Reinds
Nathan Reinds
Mutemath, which plays Jannus Live in St. Petersburg, Florida on September 30, 2017.

New Orleans’ Mutemath has been no stranger to St. Petersburg, but Paul Meany’s ambitious post-rock outfit — whose music has always tipped its hat to the grandiose ideas of Radiohead, New Order and even Air or Sting — will have more than its aspirations on display when it arrives at Jannus Live on September 30. This tour in support of a new album (Play Dead, released earlier this month) is Mutemath’s first since the departure of Darren King.

The longtime drummer’s style — a mix of uncaged animal and mad professor — defined the aesthetic of a band led by Meany, whose onstage antics and soaring voice made him a force of his own. Meany has said that he wasn’t sure if the band would be able to go on without King, but an old friend — David Hutchinson — was able to salvage the tour. CL talked to Meany about “Hutch,” the new LP and life after death.

Read our Q&A below and get information on the show via

Sat. Sept. 30, 7:30 p.m.
Jannus Live, 200 1st. Ave. N., St. Petersburg. $25.75 and up.

There’s always been a lot of life in your music, and you’re 41 now, but I’m curious about the music you listened to in your developing years, more specifically the clubs you went to (snuck into) and how that shaped the role music played in your life.

It wasn't until I saw a show at the New Orleans House of Blues that I got hooked on what got me to here. I remember getting into a Yellowman show. They were just letting people in to fill the room and me and a couple friends were walking by. The room was smoked out, packed with people dancing and it was amazingly loud. I had never been in such an electric atmosphere. I remember thinking "this is all I care about" I just wanted to do something like this. My goal from that day forward was to figure out how to be a part of a band that could play a loud show at the House Of Blues one day.

Tampa Bay just dodged a bullet with Hurricane Irma, but we had to watch our neighbors to the north and south get wrecked by wind and floodwater.  You obviously know a lot about how a storm can wreck a community (Mutemath spouses lost jobs, you evacuated for Katrina). How will your shows in Miami, St. Pete and even Orlando/Lake Buena Vista be different from what you normally do on the tour?

Katrina was the toughest time our city has ever been through, but it turned into a rallying point to build the best version of New Orleans yet.

I know he’s pumped about the challenge, but how’s Hutch adjusting to the band logistically? I know he was the guy before Darren, and he was probably the only guy for the job, but how’s he handling the scrutiny, the music? I would imagine your fans are pretty welcoming. Does he wanna go back to being an EMT?

He's doing great. I know he's enjoying just playing music again and even though it's in a challenging shadow, I've been amazed at how he's been able to honor Darren's playing while still being able to bring who he is as a drummer to the table. The thing I love drum-wise about Hutch is the same thing I love about Darren. They are no doubt their own drummers. No one does it quite like they do. I can remember being in the studio with Darren a lot of times recording drums and we'd talk about just channeling Hutch for a particular section.  Hutch was a reference point for us as a definitive type of approach. And now it's amazing to talk to Hutch about "just need to Darren King this part" and it means a very specific thing.  And the way that they've interpreted each other's uniqueness has resulted in some pretty great drumming I think.

Even in the early Warner Bros. days, your music has always gracefully toed the line between radio-ready and brave/unraveled. Not that the two can’t be one in the same, but how much do you think about label/industry reception when making these songs? I mean “Everything’s New” and “Achilles Heel” both clock in at over six minutes long and I get everything from EBM to disco to straight ahead indie rock on this record.

The only thing we were concerned about while making this album was making sure we thought it sounded sick. Once we got it there, we were done with a song.

Play Dead is about life after death. How do you want to be remembered by your fans, friends and family?

I've come to realize people never like you for the reasons you want them to, and they probably won't remember you for the reasons you want them to either. You just hope to be one of the lucky ones that get to be remembered at all.


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Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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