First in the chamber for the April installment of our recurring BTR Artists On Tour feature is Mumpsy; a five-piece pop haymaker out of Orlando, Florida, known for their knack to get the crowd dancing and crack-a-lacking.
The future BTR Artist of the Week is currently gearing up for the release of their latest effort, Cat & Canary, and playing a bevy of shows in the meantime. We caught up with lead singer/guitarist Jeff Ilgenfritz to see how the live circuit has been treating the band.
BTR: What was the highlight of the last tour?
SXSW. Definitely. You get to be inspired by a really cool city and check out a bunch of bands and be nervous that you didn’t get enough school work done in the hotel the entire time, but it was neat. However, I did see snow for the first time in Pittsburgh. That would also play a close second, I guess.
One of the funniest moments, by far, happened during our last night in Austin. Chris (Rae, multi-instrumentalist), Waylon (drums), and I wanted to jam on something… I think it was a new song I had written, or something to that effect. So, we all go down to the trailer to get our gear. And it’s really dark, but Chris Rae dives in head-first and starts grunting, trying to maneuver all the way into the back-bottom of this thing to get our guitars. And his little feet are pokin’ through from the blackness of the inside… and then I said, “You gotta want it!” just like a coach, and he starts panting louder and shouts back: “I WANT IT!”
It was funny as piss.
Washington D.C. reminded me a lot of Gainesville, too. It was by far the best night as a band, playing live in front of people, and everyone seemed to have a good time. We played with a really good set of musicians, too, and people stayed around to see us play last. Because of the NCAA tournament, the Metro was opened a little later. So that was why, but still…
BTR: What does Mumpsy like to listen to in the van?
Whoever is driving is who controls the music. So, really, that’s a biased question. When I drove, I listened to the Misfits, the Kinks, Neutral Milk Hotel, Flowers Forever, the Beatles, Southern Culture on the Skids, the Decemberists, and Of Montreal the most. When (Phil) Longo (bassist) drove, it was usually mid-tempo numbers from a lot of obscure bands… and then, when you least expect it, “Roam” by the B-52’s. And suddenly, everyone is feeling great and energetic and wants to fucking party. And then it’s right back into a lot of cool shit you don’t hear very often. Waylon listens to things that are generally right up my alley, though he forgot his iPod on this trip and relied on mine. And Raeban fucking plays shit that you’ve never heard before, and it never is beyond the year 2001. It’s mostly music that I complain about, but which he thinks is very funny or else nostalgic.
But everyone has their own way of getting the job done, which is, try to kill the time in a van with your buddies.
BTR: How do you all feel about hitchhikers?
For ‘em. We love ‘em. We’ve never picked any up, but why shouldn’t we? We’re in a band that not a lot of people have heard of, and they’re usually people that not a lot of people have heard of.
I see no harm in giving them a ride.
BTR: How are the new songs (from Cat & Canary) playing in a live setting?
We’ve run into some “issues,” I’ll say with performing some songs live, but that’s not a bad thing. In fact, for the most part, they usually arise over discussions that each individual has with a certain premise of how the songs need to be executed live. We aren’t blessed with Sean Moore (horns, strings) any longer, so to fill in that sound, we have to get Raeban to experiment with another musical instrument. Or if Kristen (Andre, keys) can’t make a tour, how are we going fill in the sound when we perform them live?
Luckily, we keep ‘em guessing. And that means, if Rae has to make a monetary sacrifice and buy an extra keyboard, he does it. He really is one of the main pivoting points in Mumpsy. I may pride myself on arrangement or penmanship, but I certainly hope Chris Rae prides himself on his inventiveness. The man is always coming up with ways of making something work.
Longo is the same way; Longo has been an active member of Mumpsy for the longest time now (second to me). He’s graced with the good fortune of being able to say he’s written the most parts on bass, so naturally, he can nail the bass lines live and it sounds like the album.
Waylon. We were lucky enough to get Waylon. He plays almost exactly like I do. And I have to remind him all the time not to worry about how it’s done on the album. “Make it your own at all costs,” I tell him. Leave no stone unturned; just because I did it a certain way on record means that you definitely don’t need to immediately try and make it sound that way. He kills, too. He’s a really innovative drummer, and he does a lot of the percussion live that is overdubbed on the albums.
I try to keep the live sound different from the album sound. That way, you can get the best of both worlds. I, personally, hate when bands play to metronomes live, or sound really frail and un-beefy – you know, the kind of sound that comes from musicians who want to sound professional by practicing how to be more innocuous and anesthetized than emotional and fuckin’ awesome and raw. I like the album-sound to explore a lot of different textures and scopes within a 3 minute-long timeframe. And live, I like the music to be driving, loud, dancey-dancing, loud, and memorable, “at all costs.”
BTR: What’s next for Mumpsy?
This blitzkrieg is going to keep on going until the monster says when. But we surgically removed the vocal chords not too long ago…
On to San Diego. We’ve just won the CMJ Collegiate Nationals Music Championship, and we’re off to sunny California. We’re going to try and hook up a show in Los Angeles, too, but I doubt it. We’ll see. And if I don’t personally meet John Frusciante (Red Hot Chilli Peppers) this time, I’ll be convinced he’s a cyborg.
Cat & Canary will be coming out nationally this fall, so that’ll be cool. And we’re touring for the rest of the year, too. We’ve got a lot on our plate, and we’re hungry. Is that a good summary?
BTR: Hell yes! One last question though… what are your thoughts on the grassy knoll at Dealey Plaza?
All I got to say is, no one in Dallas thinks Lee Harvey Oswald did it… and they’ve also got a conspiracy museum there… And the fuckin’ Grassy Knoll has a storm drain RIGHT beside it that you can STILL pick up with your bare hands and SQUAT inside of it and CROUCH and walk to the nearby TRAIN DEPOT. Does that sound sketch to you? No? Oh yeah… the last X on the road (painted on the locations where Kennedy was fucking SHOT, no less) is right in front of the corner of the Grassy Knoll… within easy gun shot range.
But Lee Harvey was a communist asshole, right? I bet he did it, still…