Mutts — Coming to your town

Mutts (Photo by B-Hires)

It must be something in the water in Chicago. When it comes to great voices, the Windy City hasn’t just produced JC Brooks over the last few years, but a gentleman who has only recently discovered that yeah, that voice is pretty special.

“I never considered it that until maybe just recently,” laughs Mike Maimone, lead singer of Mutts. “I was only a singer by default. My bands kept breaking up on me and I was writing songs but I wasn’t singing them, so every time a band broke up, I was back to Square One. So in my mid-20s, I said I better start singing, and this is what came out. I guess like a puppy growing into his paws, I’ve just been getting used to it and I feel a little more comfortable with it now, but it’s been a process.”

Don’t listen to Maimone. That process is already finished and you can hear it on the band’s latest EP, Stick Together, an upbeat collection that is already getting a positive reaction since its September release. But the singer isn’t getting too ahead of things yet.

“I think if you read too much into the positive reviews, then you have to read into the negative reviews too,” he said. “I kind of write it all off as everybody has an opinion, and I really appreciate the positive opinions, but I just want to keep working and getting better in a vacuum as much as I can.”

If that sounds like someone who has been through the music business wars for a long time, that would be accurate, and with an average of over 100 gigs a year for the last decade as a solo artist, a member of Mutts and as a touring keyboardist for various acts, he’s probably seen it all. But he’s still here, and there’s something to be said for that.

“It’s the feeling when it goes right,” he said of his reason for staying in the business. “Whether it’s on stage in front of 20 people or 200 people, it’s that feeling when everybody’s in it and feeling the energy. Or if you’re in the studio and things are going right and things sound good and you’re creating, it’s just this high. And no matter how bad it gets, you’re always chasing that because you know you’re gonna get it again at some point. So you just keep going.”

And despite all his other projects, Mutts will always be home for Maimone.

“It’s definitely the energy,” he said. “When you bring an idea into a room with people who are your equals in the band room, you get a lot more energy going back and forth. And when it’s my solo thing, it’s more like I wrote this song and this is how I want it to be. I’ll take the feedback, but at the end of the day it’s going to be my call. (Laughs) In Mutts, I have Bob Buckstaff, who is the guy that founded the band with me, and he’s always been the guy who feeds me new music and shows me things that I hadn’t heard before.

“So Mutts is a creative combine,” Maimone continues. “It happens in the practice room when we’re writing and it happens on stage where we feed off of each other. It’s a huge rush. I love performing live and I love breaking it down, but it’s a totally different thing. Solo is more precision, and the band, it’s more like a shotgun. Let it go and see what happens.”

There may not be a better way to describe Mutts’ sound and approach than that, and in a world where The Killers’ lead singer Brandon Flowers caught flack for saying that rock bands today haven’t been good enough to replicate the buzz his group and groups like the Strokes and Interpol got, Maimone takes offense to such statements.

“It’s such a load of bulls**t because there’s great rock music happening everywhere,” he said. “It’s just that the mainstream and the general music consumer is not there right now. But as you’ve seen in history, it all swings back and forth and I think we’re due for another punk rock coming after disco or grunge coming after hair metal. I think we’re due, and rather than jump on any kind of trend, I think we’ve just continued to stick to what we do naturally, and hopefully at some point it will come back and be popular again.”

And until then, expect Mutts to keep delivering the goods as they get ready to come to a venue near you.

“It’s been a slow growth since 2009, slow and steady,” he said. “Maybe we just give off the vibe as a band that’s just living it, so we’re just gonna be around. It’s easy to take Mutts for granted because we’re gonna be in your town at some point.”

For more information on Mutts, click here