Spag [Matt McDonough] - MudVayne
Chat at OzzFest 2001
Shoreline Amphitheater - Mt. View, CA - June 2001
Mudvayne is one of the new breed of shock/theatrical expressionistic rock - defying and disgusting, yet intriguing and inviting. The four members that comprise the band are certainly original - perhaps not in their idea of putting make-up together with industrial-based alt-rock heavy metal - but certainly in the manner which they present it all in. The total package is not easy to ignore. Their debut CD "LD-50" is a hard-crunching, gut-churning excursion into life, pain, and some of that which we choose to hide from as a society.
Mudvayne recently performed as part of the OzzFest touring entorage. While they stopped in at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mt. View, CA, we had the chance to chat with at least one member of the group - drummer SpAg [Matt McDonough]. Albeit, perhaps the most "spiritual" of the band, SpAg definitely knows what interests him most, and that is creating music. His demeanor is quite innocent in ways, with almost a child-like quality - certainly not over-bearing and in-your-face as many of similar genres tend to be. We had an enlightened chat which opened us up to the world of Mudvayne. To note though, right before the scheduled interview time, Mudvayne's equipment driver suffered a non-fatal heart attack and was rushed to the hospital as the band and crew tried to find the truck keys. So, throughout the meleé...
K2K: Alright then... we're talking to...
S: SpAg from Mudvayne.
K2K: ... and your real name?
S: (Silent for a moment) I don't have a real name.
K2K: It wouldn't be Matt, would it?
S: Uh... it might be.
K2K: Where is the band from?
S: Peoria, IL. Actually that's our cover, that's our front. Actually, we're from Zeta Reticuli. It's out just a little past Alpha Centuri.
K2K: You didn't happen to get that idea from GWAR, did you?
S: GWAR? Who are they?
K2K: How long has the band been together?
S: 5 1/2 years.
K2K: Who are the original members of the band?
S: The guitarist, drummer, and singer.
K2K: Musically are you all on the same page or do you have diverse interests?
S: You mean like what we listen to?
K2K: Listen to and influences.
S: Oh, OK. We all listen to so many different types of things that you can't really say any common ground. It's not like one guy's into one thing and another guy's into another thing. We all just listen to everything.
K2K: How did you decide on the musical direction that you took?
S: I don't think that we ever decided. I don't think that we've ever had much of a choice in our writing. Our songs pretty much write themselves. I just happen to get forced to sit back and watch them and pay attention.
K2K: Does everybody write?
S: Yeah, it's a band thing. Absolutely.
K2K: If you had to label yourselves musically - which I know people hate to do - what would you consider yourselves?
S: I think we're the latest evolvement in Christian metal.
K2K: (Noticing particular tattoo on SpAg's arm) Like the Stryper symbol on your arm?
S: Absolutely. No, no. Stryper probably misinterpretted this and tried to take it as something.
K2K: One of their old logos sported something similar.
S: Really? That's cool because they bogarted it from a Satanic cult originaztion.
K2K: Which one? The Illuminati?
S: No. I won't say the name.
K2K: When you guys first started playing, was it this same style of music?
S: Yeah. This incarnation of... a couple of us came from bands before... but when we came together, it's been pretty much a continuous realization of what we do - the four of us together. Our older music is... our music has become more refined. A lot of that direction has gone more into dynamics and emotional content.
K2K: How did the make-up start?
S: We were pretty much prompted through our involvement with this alien consciousness that we deal with. It's sort of like a war-paint sort of thing. It's a challenge.
K2K: So it wasn't like the usual "Oh, KISS did it cool. We can do it too." like a lot of bands?
S: Who's KISS?
K2K: Any KISS influences?
S: I love to kiss! I'm a romantic sort of soft and tender kind of guy. (Yelling off at a gathered crowd by the bus) HEY! Do I love to kiss or what?!
K2K: Is KISS old - as a band, not the members.
S: Uh... I have a hard time believing in linear time. It's an intellectual construct that I'm not very interested in.
K2K: Do you think it's time for new bands such as yourselves to now take the helm?
S: I see ourselves as an evolvement in musical style. A lot of what we do is a return to 80s style metal. I don't see us as a new thing that's happening. It's kind of a contradiction to me to try to see us in those terms.
K2K: What about the individual looks that the members have in Mudvayne? Anything behind it?
S: No. There's no identification. The original intent was the antithesis of indentification.
K2K: Kind of like Slipknot?
S: I guess. They're trying to maintain a sort of annonyminity. It isn't a concern of ours. We were looking to sort of create a hive consciousness between the four of us - something that brought us together and bonded us outside of our normal day-to-day personalities. There are no characters.
K2K: Here's a question that only those with the DVD would understand... Do you feel sexier now that you're hair's grown out?
S: Uh... yeah, sure. Yeah. Actually, it's kind of worked against me. I now have this sort of G.I.Q. thing going on.
K2K: Where did your names come from?
S: Intermingling between the four of us and friends of the band when we originally got together. Anybody who hangs out with us for half a day gets a nickname. Every single person who rides in this bus gets a nickname. The names have nothing to do with the make-up. That is a fact that needs to be reiterrated. Those names are not names for characters that are represented by the make-up. That's important. They're just nicknames. The thing is that the nicknames are just jokes with us.
K2K: How is your album doing?
S: Our second single just went to radio about three days ago. The video should be out next week.
K2K: How's the label treating you guys?
S: Awesome. You know how you hear all these horror stories... we've had a great relationship with our label and they've been very supportive.
K2K: What prompted you to release a DVD with only one song and a few extras on it when you could put so much more info on it?
S: That was unprecendented with the label. We're the first Sony band ever to do that. It was our product manager's idea. The one thing that I liked about it is that there was so much stuff on it that utilized the DVD technology and it was so cost-effective. Anybody could pay nine or ten bucks for it, which made it readily available to fans. I thought that was a great marketing thing.
K2K: Are you going to do a live video at all?
S: We just recorded one.
K2K: How much input did you have for the "Dig" video?
S: Everything. We worked with the director, but it was our collaboration with the director.
K2K: Where do you pick up your different musical styles from?
S: There's the obvious: Tool, early Pantera, from when we first started writing.
K2K: What about progressive rock? "-1" is a perfect example of that.
S: I arranged that when I was sick. I had a fever for three days.
K2K: The vocal style and everything is so Peter Gabriel.
S: Cool. I love Peter Gabriel. I grew up with old Genesis and 70s classic rock. We all did. ELP and King Crimson and all that.
K2K: I just saw some tinges of things and early progressive seemed to stand out.
S: Things like that in our music that might be misconstrued as being part of other genres... I would never be so ridiculous as to say that we're not influenced by other bands. That's a ludicrous thing to say. Those directions in our music came out of an interest in creating a music that was more dynamic and emotionally dimensional. Like Tool, with movement and feeling and dimentionality. It was the intention of trying to be "progressive" or anything.
K2K: What about the next album? Will you continue to be more diverse as you go on or stick to a particular style?
S: It could be different. I don't think we have a choice but to keep moving. For us to try to formulize what we do would be an absolute contradiction to what the band is about. It would be our ultimate downfall.
K2K: What other bands do you currently like?
S: Me, personally? I'm really into Aphex Twin, Frontline Assembly, How Job. As far as heavy music, I really like Samio, Emporer, and stuff like that.
K2K: What might be surprising to know that you listen to?
S: Harry Connick, Jr., Prince, Fiona Apple.
K2K: How old are all of you?
S: We were all born in 2001.
K2K: What other bands of notoriety did you come from?
S: I was in a couple of bands, but none with any label interest. They drew attention from booking agents and managers.
K2K: The CD title - LD-50 - are you animal activists?
S: I like animals better than humans. It's a pharmacological term used by the medical industry. It has nothing to do with animals. They say that it's used in animal testing, but...
K2K: Rikki Rocket from Poison is an animal activist and talks a lot of stuff like LD-50.
S: Really? I would never endorse killing anything, as I would never endorse doing drugs... as I would never endorse harming anything. But, death is an eventuality and it's inevitable.
K2K: In regards to lyrical content... what inspriations do you have?
S: We try to draw from every aspect from our normal day-to-day life experiences. Anything that we come in contact with, just as being people and with each other, is relevant.
K2K: Are you pissed off or do you just make subtle statements?
S: I'm like any other person. I'm mad, I'm happy, I'm sad, I'm bored...
K2K: In regards to singing, how does Kud keep his voice sounding so good when he growls so much?
S: He takes good care of himself. He's gone through training from highly qualified vocal therapists and teachers. You've got to take care of yourself.
K2K: Your website is awesome! Who put that together?
S: Like with every creative aspect of our band, we are all involved in what we do. I would mainly give original thought ideas to the label. We've got a couple of really good people from the label who work just with our internet marketing.
K2K: Do you own your website or does Sony? Usually, if the label makes it, the label keeps it.
S: I don't really care. Mudvayne was never really mine. This isn't mine. Once you put something out, it's not really yours anymore. Attachment is the greatest single downfall of humanity. I'll put it like this, I don't feel like I'm being taken advantage of by the label. Some people live with that sort of paranoid headspace and I don't think that's a very healthy mode.
K2K: How much outside creative influences do you have, as a band, other than music?
S: I would site most of our creative influences as being not about music. Predominantly, everything that we're influenced by is not music.
K2K: How did you get onto OzzFest 2001?
S: Like pretty much everyone else. The people who produced the show took an interest in us.
K2K: How was this working out?
S: Great! You can't play to a crowd like this unless you play a festival.
K2K: What is your favorite place that you've played to date?
S: This place is pretty cool. Actually, Texas is a great market for us so we love playing Texas. And obviously anywhere in the mid-west since that's where we started. Our fan base is really loyal.
K2K: Any wild stories?
S: Probably any story that I would want to tell that would have that kind of credence is not something that I should talk about. As a general rule, our band is pretty tame. We are a little older and we've already done the partying thing. We pretty much stick to ourselves and the band. The business aspect and doing the work.
K2K: How do you relate to this crowd at OzzFest? You've got young stoners and drunken construction workers.
S: I think our music is relevant to anybody who identifies with it. I don't think you could take a cross-section and say that "this is a Mudvayne fan." I don't think it's that simple.
K2K: Future plans?
S: Lots of touring - probably until Christmas and then do another album.
And with that we let SpAg, who had been diligently attempting to remove his make-up with bottled water in the parking lot during the interview, get back to his business and onto the bus to get on the road. Check out the release of Mudvayne's "LD-50".
Written by Philip Anderson

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