Montreal’s MUTANK – all caps, all the time, I’ve been warned – is a crossover/thrash whose members not only love crossover thrash, but acronyms and plays on words using their moniker as the jumping off point. Their first album, 2014’s M.EC.H. Metal features what has become their signature song and the line “who do you MUTANK you are?!” And things go on like this, as you’ll discover. The band does have more to offer than self-referential puns and a brand of thrash that sounds like angry drunks sitting at a table arguing with ignorant politicians. There’s the little matter of them playing Wacken in 2014 after coming out victorious in the Wacken Metal battle; their new EP, W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T is a multi-song-in-one conceptual piece that’s set for release next month and they’ll be touring their home and native land with long-in-the-tooth hoser thrashers, Annihliator. As the band begins/continues to make farther and wider strides, we figured it was time for an introduction via a short Q&A and a song premier from the forthcoming EP. Vocalist/bassist Stephen Reynolds does the honours.
Seeing as this is your first time here, can you give a brief history of the band?
MUTANK formed in 2013 and within the first few months of forming we wrote and recorded our first album M.E.C.H. Metal. One year later, we found ourselves representing Canadian metal at Germany’s Wacken Festival having won the Wacken Metal Battle of the bands against 103 other acts. Since then, we’ve been laying low having suffered a few line-up changes and spent that time perfecting our material and writing a slew of new music, including our new EP W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. This summer we’ll be touring with our musical heroes, Annihilator!
What’s with the name MUTANK? Please tell us there’s an awesome story that goes along with it!
I was taking a crap and texting our former guitarist, Steve Breen a pile of potential band names and amongst them was “MUTANK,” which I instinctively typed in all-caps; it’s a portmanteau of the words “mutant” and “tank.” I totally forgot about it until he brought it up a week later and I honestly didn’t like it when I heard it back, but it grew on all of us like a symbiote and now we are MUTANK!
When putting MUTANK together, did you have a particular sound goal or direction in mind in terms of the type of metal you wanted to play or did the sound just happen naturally?
We knew we wanted to play thrash. We were listening to a lot of classic Megadeth, D.R.I. and Suicidal Tendencies at the time and we wanted to capture the fun and exciting aspects in those bands. I came into the band with a few songs and so did the other guys and our styles meshed very well and ended up as something I don’t think any of us could have predicted so it’s a bit of both.
How long did it take to write and record the new EP?
We were writing material for our next album and I had written this long compartmentalized song called “W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T.” and as it started to develop we realized it would work really well as its own thing. We set aside our other material and focused in on it with plans to record it as an EP. The entire process probably took about a year and happened parallel to us writing other material which we hope to get out soon.
How much live work have you done and would you say you’ve taken any lessons from the stage to the studio?
We live to play live. When we started the band one of the first things we did was book a show which forced us to write our first album in only a couple of months. In that way, the stage has completely shaped the original sound of the band. I think the best practice any musician can get is to play live and I see the skill-level of the band members growing with every show (one of the advantages of starting at such a low skill-level). Our biggest show has definitely been playing Wacken, which taught us the lesson that we wanna do a Europe tour a.s.a.p.
How do you feel the EP compares to the M.E.C.H. Metal album?
W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. definitely shows a different side of MUTANK. M.E.C.H. was pressure cooked having been written and recorded in such a short time. At that time we had no desire for anything beyond putting our music out into the ether. With this new EP, we definitely have begun to realize our potential and are out for blood!
We’re premiering a track called “P.O.P.U.L.O.U.S.” What can you tell us about his song in particular?
“P.O.P.U.L.O.U.S.” stands for “Price of Progress: Ugly Little Organisms Undermining Society.” This is a speedy crossover thrash track comprised of slimy riffs and greasy licks. Lyrically, it deals with an inability to integrate with society, even when it comes to one’s own peer group and on a deeper level not being able to relate to one’s self.
Today is the first day of the 2017 edition of the Maryland Deathfest. Why aren’t you there?
We’re preparing for our cross-Canada tour with Annihilator! Maryland Deathfest is definitely on our bucket list to play!
Being a relatively young and new band, what do you feel were some of the bigger lessons you learned in going through the writing/recording/dealing with a label process in the creation of the new EP?
Writing this EP was definitely a huge challenge for the band. The fact that it’s five short songs that combine to make something more gave us certain limitations, but we learned limitations breed creativity. When we were recording we only had two days to do the whole thing and it was done out of town so once our time was up that was it! That’s a high pressure situation, but we learned that we strive under pressure. Dealing with the labels taught us patience as we had to wait a long time to get a label to pick it up. Sitting on something you’ve worked so hard on can be testing and you just wanna give it to the fans but we knew we would be selling ourselves short if we put it out ourselves like we did with the first album.
Once the EP is fully out what’s the plan? And what are your hopes for MUTANK going forward?
This summer we are going on our first tour supporting Canadian thrash legends Annihilator. Once that wraps up we’ll be working on our next full length album, which is already in production as well as looking for more tours supporting our thrash godfathers. All this to further our agenda of thrash supremacy!