|Photo credit - Will Hutchinson|
Mutation are an extreme metal act from the UK formed in 2013 by well-known vocalist/guitarist Ginger Wildheart, the man behind the rock group The Wildhearts and the frontman of Exit International, Scott Lee Andrews. The trio is completed by drummer known as Denzel (Dean Pearson) who has been involved in many projects with Ginger and plays in Young Legionnaire. I caught up with Ginger and Scott to discuss the beginnings of Mutation, the new album '‘Mutation III: Dark Black’, touring, the future, mental health and much more in this interesting and honest interview.
As a musician who has played in many bands, most notably The Wildhearts and formed many projects, how did you come to form Mutation and why when you did?
Ginger: I did it mainly because I wanted to make the music that was in my head, and it didn’t look like anyone else wanted to do it.
At the time I was playing and writing with Michael Monroe, and while I loved working with him and his awesome band, they weren’t going to enter into grindcore anytime soon. Michael even thought my punk influences were ‘metal’, so Napalm Death probably wouldn’t have registered as music with him. It was safe to say that if I wanted to play blast beats I’d have to do it on my own.
How did you decide on the name Mutation and what were your expectations of this new band?
Ginger: Mutation was literally the only name I had in my head. I searched on Google expecting it to have already been taken, and it hadn’t. I figured it was a sign and ran with it.
Scott: It also speaks of the project on a literal level – Over the course of the 3 Mutation records the band has shape-shifted and I believe that ethos will continue from record to record. I was lucky to handle a lead vocal on ‘The Frankenstein Effect’ and it turned out to be one of the most unhinged on there – That might have given the nod to work with me on a future record.
Is it true that a new Wildhearts album could be on the way?
Ginger: I said I didn’t want to concentrate on anything but the new solo album and Mutation, and I still mean that, but then you write a song, and another one, and another…and all of a sudden an album is taking shape in your mind.
If it happens it won’t be until later next year, so I still have a year of promo for Mutation, which I’m taking very seriously indeed.
|Ginger (Photo credit - Will Hutchinson)|
How do you find time to juggle all your different projects and do you approach them differently?
Ginger: It’s more of a case of if I didn’t have so much to juggle the devil would use my hands for bad stuff. Having plenty to do keeps me focused. Same as Devin Townsend, same as Shane Embury, both guests of Mutation, I always have time for a new idea.
You recently released your new album ‘Mutation III: Dark Black’ on June 30th, can you tell us about the lyrical themes and meanings explored in the album?
Ginger: It was written and recorded at a very dark time, and fully intended to carve the chaos of mental illness into sonic form. Scott has a delightful saying “going method”, and that’s what Mutation is all about in a nutshell.
Scott: ‘Dark Black’ for me was very direct channeling of a headspace, but something that is not an easy idea to make sense of. There’s a mixture of bluntness and the cryptic. I found we did not try to articulate mental illness via music, we just ‘let go’ and recorded the natural output during a period where our heads were fucked. Some of the lyrics come across quite abstract which was less of a choice, more of a reflection of our thought processes.
What was the recording and writing process like and what was most challenging about creating it?
Ginger: The main challenge in the writing process was getting started. We had initially decided that we weren’t in the right mental state to write an album, then we got the idea of writing an album about how we were feeling and it was lighting a rocket after that.
For me, albums only need a legitimate reason to live and I’m up for giving birth to them.
Scott: As Ginger mentioned, just getting the first note down. The session was actually pulled when we met up, but after deciding to hang out for the evening, we talked ourselves around and started making noise. The most difficult thing for myself was tracking vocals, which take up a lot of my energy but was completely drained. There’s a desperation in my voice which was VERY real.
How do you think it compares to 2014’s ‘Error 500’ release?
Ginger: With ‘Error 500’ I wanted to push the limits of what extreme music represents. Extreme speed, extreme grandiosity, extreme weirdness, extreme unpredictability. We had a member of Cardiacs and a member of Napalm Death, so it was never going to sit anywhere comfortably on the shelf.
With this album, the subject matter and approach came from a very dark place. The actual music had less to do with it than the intention behind it, if we’re going to write about this shit then it can’t have any barriers. Given that brief it was an extremely easy album to record and mix.
Scott: I don’t come from a ‘metal’ background per se, and the line-up on ‘Error 500’ was a who’s who noisy esoteric talent. I did feel a weight present going into the record knowing what had come before, but tunnel vision, anger, frustration and the need to make something that punches the listeners head clean off took over.
How happy have you been with how the album turned out and the response from the fans?
Ginger: We are simply stunned. We had no idea if anyone was even going to like what we were doing, but to receive such a positive reaction was bizarre and extremely gratifying. With our intentions to get onto record the mess in our heads at the time, the subsequent reaction could well have been “Nope, just don’t get it”, and we’d have been more prepared for that than the amount of positivity we’ve seen towards ‘Dark Black’.
Scott: There was a moment just prior to Dave Draper (Mixing/Production) becoming involved where the album sounded more like a ‘big rock record’. As soon we approached the mixing with Dave on board, we took the sonics into a similar ballpark as Ginger previously visited on The Wildhearts’ ‘Endless Nameless’ which is such a divisive record, but one of my favourite of all time. We pressed the red button and were aware of the cutting off nose to spite face aspect of it. However, the response has been incredible. Some have said it’s more instant yet the most abrasive of the Mutation records – A huge compliment.
|Scott (Photo credit - Will Hutchinson)|
I’m sorry to hear of your recent hospitalisation and I hope you are on the mend, but you have said that the UK tour in October and November will go ahead, so how excited are you for this and what can attending fans expect from your shows?
Ginger: I’ve always managed to pull myself into reasonably good shape, but for this I’m taking endurance into another realm. I want to be in the best shape I’ve ever been in order to fully translate the music into a live setting.
Scott: We’ve been talking of making the shows ‘an experience’– With sights to meet the sonics, even SUBsonics. I don’t want to ruin the plans, but it looks like it is going to be full on.
Following on from that how important do you think it is that people speak out about mental health issues and personally for you, how does music help you channel these issues?
Ginger: I think that without constantly speaking up about it, or speaking out about it, then mental health awareness always runs the danger of crawling back into the shadows. For some unfathomable reason, this is an area that people find very uncomfortable to talk about, and while extra attention is given whenever someone famous commits suicide, this illness is taking lives every hour of every day. It is beyond important that people keep talking about their experiences, it is essential.
Magazines like Kerrang! have tried to highlight the cause recently, but where were the interviews with Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell? Or even me, for that matter? Talking not only helps the readers but the musicians themselves. More musicians need to speak out or we’re gonna keep losing them. Surely that’s worth inclusion in all music magazines?
Scott: It’s a step forward in the fact it becoming a point of discussion and people are willing to go there. Personally I never really opened up about these sorts of things as explicitly as I have during this experience, and I have found it definitely helps to talk, the hardest part was breaking the seal of silence. I feel there is still a lot that needs to be communicated to break the stigmas, and especially the statics around male suicide and let’s be far, the rock music business has a larger percentage of males, which is unfortunate in itself.
Can you tell us about your best or most memorable UK touring experiences in the UK?
Ginger: Most of the more memorable stories are impossible to tell without a lawyer present, as you can imagine, but I’ve seen a lot of stuff, very good and very bad, and I’m still here to talk about it. So are all the Wildhearts, for that matter. We’ve lost a few bits n pieces here & there, but we’re still going strong. The only thing I can deduce from this is that some people just cannot be killed.
What have been some of your personal highlights throughout your entire career?
Ginger: Whenever your music affects people, to whatever degree, is a highlight that cannot be surpassed. From that tiny idea that appears in your guitar one day, to actually having a positive, sometimes life changing effect on the listener, that’s something any self-respecting Doctor would consider important, let alone a punk rocker from South Shields.
What else do you and Mutation have planned for the future?
Ginger: Oh man, you just wait and see. We want this to be an unforgettable experience That’s not to say it’ll be an entirely enjoyable one, but you won’t forget it for the rest of your life. That’s something I can guarantee.
I’d love to work on another Mutation record if that pans out. We are a ‘live’ band now, and I have some suitably absurd ideas of where to take the next record so it would stand out from the rest – Can we become more extreme, Yes and I think I know how.
|Denzel (Photo credit - Will Hutchinson)|
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Ginger: Talk about your problems, ask if your friends are okay, take chances, be prepared to look a fool, don’t drink cheap wine, turn the TV off once in a while, demand the right to watch only good movies, keep receipts and take bad music back to the shop to exchange for something great, kiss your kids too much, love your dog four times as much as a human and don’t vote Tory.
Scott: Don’t fear the Mutation experience, it is not going to be pleasant but it will serve as a diversion from the stuff in your life that weakens people. Come along and bathe in the noise.
Watch Mutation's video for 'Hate':
Mutation's New Album ‘Mutation III: Dark Black’ is out now.
The band will tour the UK in October/November:
For more on Mutation: