Mouth of the Architect bring Dayton voice to metal
By Tim Anderl
With contributions to the international indie rock landscape that have been widely lauded in the music press, and celebrated at festivals across the globe, Dayton has long been the birthplace of audio innovators and musical game changers. While Dayton City Paper has a legacy of recognizing these kinds of contributions –especially those of the Deal sisters and Bob Pollard’s beer-fueled brotherhood, to the independent pop and rock genres– Gem City musicians are also creating music that is having a profound impact on a lesser known genre that is growing in international popularity… metal.
During the last decade, Mouth of the Architect has honed their unflinching brand of atmospheric, metal gaze stomp, earning them recognition from Decibel and Rolling Stone Magazine. They have also collaborated with undisputed genre heavies – including metal maven Julie Christmas, former Botch bassist Brian Cook, Grammy award nominees Mastodon and Tool collaborators Intronaut.
While some local head bangers, including this writer, wrongly assumed Mouth of the Architect had broken up when they dropped off the map a year ago, band members were actually in the midst of surgery and military duty. Renewed, healed and having settled their obligations, the Dayton, Ohio band resurfaced and are set to release a brand new record in 2013 following their Summer and Fall tours. We caught up with vocalist/keyboardist Jason Watkins to discuss the band’s brief hiatus, and what they have in their arsenal for the future.
Mouth of the Architect have been on a bit of a hiatus as of late. Were you guys just burnt out and needing to pursue other avenues?
Neither. We had to take some time off from everything after we got back from Europe because our guitar player, Steve Brooks, had to go to Kuwait for a year. And our drummer Dave Mann had to get shoulder surgery. (Jason Watkins)
Why is now the right time to regroup for an album and some touring?
Now is the right time only because Dave’s shoulder has healed and he can play drums again.
We’ve been a band for almost 10 years and the whole idea behind Mouth of the Architect was to have something that lasted. Something we could leave behind. It’s always been more of a passion in being creative and honest with conveying emotion by using everything from soft melodic passages to crushing everything with a hammer, or even using acoustic instruments to get that point across. We have no rules in our songwriting, and in that way we can always use Mouth of the Architect more as our therapist than just a band. So sometimes you may not hear from us for a while but that doesn’t mean we have buried it. (JW)
Have you written all the material for the album you’ll be recording this year? What were those writing sessions like?
Jason Watkins: I would say that 80 percent of the record is complete. And it has been an amazing process. Steve started his own recording studio in Detroit, where he lives, so we spend our time split between here and there, writing. Having a studio you can go to whenever you like to write/demo out parts for songs has opened a whole new way for use to really develop the structure of things. We all are very excited about the way everything is coming together. (JW)
How does that material differ from Quietly?
I would say it is definitely more progressive. The vocals are way more melodic and the guitar riffs are way more straightforward. Quietly, to me, was more like slowly walking up a flight of stairs just to jump off the top. And this album feels more like an automatic weapon.
We are doing everything ourselves this time around. But we did record two new songs back in October 2011 with Brian Whitten, one of which was for the Falling Down IIV compilation out of France. I think that just may have come out this month actually. There are a ton of awesome bands on it, Julie Christmas and Monarch to name a few. And all the music has to be unreleased material. (JW)
Didn’t MOTA collaborate with Julie Christmas not long ago? What was that like?
We became friends with Julie and Made out of Babies after touring with them a few years ago. Julie did a guest vocal track for the song “Generation of Ghost” on Quietly and I played keyboards for the song “Stranger” on their record The Ruiner. Hopefully we can do more stuff together in the future, there has been some talking. But the process was quick. It was all done by email. Sending songs back and forth. (JW)
Will you be working with Translation Loss for the forthcoming album? When do you expect that to hit the street?
We will indeed. As for now we are looking at a spring 2013. (JW)
Are the June dates a warm up for a larger tour?
Sort of. We just wanna do as much as we can this summer since Dave is all healed up and we can start playing again. But we are going back to Europe for a month in September. And hopefully we’ll be taking Enabler with us. And then a full U.S. tour after the album comes out. (JW)
Mouth Of The Architect perform at The Mayday in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 1. For more information about the band, visit them on Facebook at facebook.com/mouthofthearchitect.
Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@DaytonCityPaper.com.