Mouth of the Architect brings teeth, tongue and catharsis to Blind Bob’s
By Gary Spencer
Often some of the best music being made in Dayton is lurking in the shadows, rarely showing its face around town yet is known in underground music circles both nationally and internationally. This description would certainly be apropos for Dayton post-metal quintet Mouth of the Architect (MOTA). The band has been around for nearly a decade yet it seems that a surprising number of folks in the Dayton music community don’t recognize the name, let alone have actually heard MOTA’s music. However, there are throngs of music listeners all over the world who have been following MOTA’s music for years and continue to do so. In addition, the group has recorded five albums released through nationally-known metal label Translation Loss Records and have toured alongside hard rock heavyweights such as These Arms are Snakes, Unsane and Mastodon.
The rare live performances and general anonymity of MOTA within the Gem City turn out to be part of the group’s modus operandi.
“We made a rule from the beginning to play Dayton once a season,” said keyboardist/vocalist Jason Watkins. “You have to give yourself time to reflect on what you’re doing. Playing all the time starts to turn into a routine and makes what you are doing start to feel like a job, and that never felt right to us.”
Reflection on the artistic content is definitely part and parcel for Mouth of the Architect. Instead of being a mere source of entertainment for local bar patrons, this musical entity exists for the purpose of personal expression and release of inner demons through epic sonic journeys that, despite a harsh, doomy metal exterior with choirs of deep, roaring vocals, have a melodic, heartfelt and often melancholy quality at their core that might escape a listener on the first listen.
“The songs are musical expressions of very real things, and if we would hope to achieve one thing it would be to express those emotions as directly and as honestly as possible,” drummer Dave Mann said.
“The emotions that bleed out of our bodies into these songs are not from a happy place or deal with a positive state of being,” added Watkins. “So I would say I’m sorry that you can relate to it and I hope [the music] helps you deal with the state of living [in] the way it has helped us. We do it for ourselves and for our sanity.”
The emotion poured into MOTA’s lyrics in particular is often hard for even the band members themselves to contend with. “We’ve always tried to write in a way that was more visual than direct so the listener can create their own metaphor for what we are saying,” Watkins said. “Reliving some of those songs lyrically is very hard to do. It’s like when you have moved on in your life with a certain situation but then you have to talk about it again and again. It can take its toll in a touring atmosphere, reopening the same wound every night over and over. It can push you further down the black hole. Sometimes, I wish we only wrote songs about dragons or wizards.”
Indeed, the band isn’t afraid of utilizing acoustic guitars and other seemingly unexpected lighter sounds in order to purvey a particular mood or emotion, nor will they pull punches when aggression is of the essence.
“What matters is conveying the emotion, whatever that may be, from an honest place,” Watkins said. “Sometimes to release certain feelings you may need a soft beautiful melody that drifts off into a feeling of safety or even enlightenment, other times you just want to kick someone in the face until your foot breaks and keep kicking.”
The band took a year or so off to work on other locally known musical projects including Kuan, Bringers of Disease and Neon Warship, but the five current members of MOTA consisting of Dave Mann on drums, Steve Brooks and Kevin Schindel doing guitars/vocals, Jason Watkins on keyboards/vocals, plus Evan Danielson performing on bass are back together and working on new material that should send them into sonic territories both familiar and unexpected. The band also has more tours both nationally and internationally planned for 2012. While MOTAhas survived a number of personnel changes and nuanced shifts in musical direction over the years, the group continues to breathe and stand by the philosophical mantras generated from the band’s inception.
“The initial history of the band is more of an idea – to create music that was honest and destructive at the same time without allowing the music to be cornered into a certain label or approach,” explained Watkins. “MOTA has become over the years, for lack of better words, our therapist. It will always be there when we need to pour our lives into it, whenever we feel the need to resurrect it, as long as the music comes from a place that is pure and is a true expression of how [we] feel. This ideal from the beginning of the band remains the same to this day.”
Mouth of the Architect will perform at Blind Bob’s on November 4. Show starts at 9:30 p.m. Also on the bill are By Way of Sunstorm, Astro Fang, Electric Banana and Back Stabbath. For more information, please visit www.blindbobs.com.