Ahead of his upcoming tour Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with M.A.G.S. Together we discussed their creative process, being inspired by Dave Grohl, their EP “Cellophane”, upcoming album “Elephant”, and tour!
1. Mustard is thankful to have you join them at Music Shelf. How are you doing today?
Thank you for having me, I’m doing very well today
2. Mustard wonders what was your relationship with music growing up?
Music was and has always been my main focus in life. Before I was ever interested in playing music or performing my mom would use songs to teach things to me and my 3 siblings. We were homeschooled so I had a lot of space to explore my interests, I spent most of my time in the basement drumming along to my favorite records, teaching myself guitar and learning how to write songs and record myself.
3. Your music seamlessly glides between genres. What is your creative process? Who are some of your influences?
One thing to know about me is I hate doing what everyone else is doing…that goes for music and in my personal life. My influences range from the punk and hardcore music I found as a teenager, to the bands I used to play in when I was coming up in the Buffalo music scene. But I never wanted to wear any of those influences on my sleeve, I never wanted it to be obvious that I was trying to recreate something that already exists.
I just make what I like to listen to….lately I’ve been more into electronic and instrumental music so I’ve been making that in between working on the new M.A.G.S. album. I think most artists and songwriters have like, years of songs ideas stored in their voice notes app, I’m no different. If I need some quick inspiration I can just scroll through some ideas I’ve already started, I think the point is to always be making new stuff even if it’s not quite time to develop it.
4. Is there a song or album that had a significant impact on you?
I remember hearing “Its Too Late” by Carole King as a kid, that’s always been one of my favorite songs because it takes me somewhere deeper into myself, the lyrics are pretty sad but the song overall reminds me of good things. Having that juxtaposition is what makes a song stand out to me.
An album that really impacted me more recently was I Want You by Marvin Gaye….I relate to him on a spiritual level, when I hear his music I hear the voice of a man with effortless charisma and a gift that has will continue to transcend time itself, but ultimately he was tortured by his own mind. I watched a documentary about him on YouTube a few years ago and I saw a lot of myself in him, and that scared me….I listen to that album now as a way to get out of my own head, ironically. I can escape into the world he built and exist there until I’m ready to come back.
5. You call yourself the “black dave grohl.” How has Dave Grohl influenced you? What work of Dave Grohl do you recommend humans check out?
Hahaha, yeah I do say that. Listening to Dave talk about Nirvana ending and having that feeling of like, shit what do I do now? I release to that heavy. And then deciding to DIY his own new sound all by himself in the beginning, thats literally how M.A.G.S. came about. I’ve played in multiple bands that had potential but never really went anywhere….once I decided to start doing everything by myself I started to see the results I wanted.
Honestly I’m not the biggest Foo Fighters fan but I remember seeing the Wasting Light documentary when it came out back in 2011, them doing it all at Dave’s house and recording it all to tape was super inspiring to see. Seeing that definitely pushed me to record at home as much as possible….I do love being in the studio and I’ve been blessed with opportunities to make records in some beautiful spaces, but there’s nothing like setting up in a tiny room and just going for it.
6. Cellophane is a clear and transparent product. Was this your goal on your EP “Cellophane?” Could you share more about what it was like to put this EP together?
So, Cellophane started off as a demo originally, I had plans to re-record the songs in a studio after I got my ideas out. The goal was to play shows….that’s all I wanted. I just wanted to use some of the momentum I had gained from my previous band and make a name for myself in Buffalo.
I actually wrote most of those songs on my birthday while I was at work back in 2015, I had a job moving cars at a dealership so I had tons of time to work on music. I would just drive around all day writing all the drum parts in my head and when I got home I’d do a quick n dirty scratch take and then build the rest of the song around the drums. At the time I was using a Roland VS-1680 and an old PC with Cubase 5 to record. I made that whole record with one microphone cause it was all I had at the time. I did eventually go to my friends studio to recut the drums but everything else was done with an MXL 991.
7. On Real Talk you mention “Let’s get high until we’re dead.” Mustard wonders what we are doing again? Outside of music, what are some of your interests?
I used to be mad angsty in my younger years haha. I guess I still am in some ways….I made Real Talk when I was frustrated with my own lack of life direction at the time. I went through a time around 12-16when I was having a ton of panic attacks and experiencing anxiety that really fucked up my physical and mental health. One day I guess I decided to like, not feel like that anymore? I let myself get super numb and complacent so I could survive reality. But that shit doesn’t go away if you don’t confront it, and when I finally realized that I was unable to communicate it effectively. So, this song was my way of acknowledging it to myself even though I didn’t know how to talk about it yet.
8. What can fans expect from your upcoming release “elephant?”
I’m going back to my roots a bit with this whole record, I’m leaning more into the punk elements in my sound but also trying some new stuff. WEIRD stuff….I’m kind of on this tip where I don’t give a fuck about what people think of me anymore. I’m freeing myself from any exceptions people might have of me and just making what I wanna hear.
9. How does it feel to have “elephant” released with smart punk records?
It’s such a privilege to be working with Smartpunk, I immediately felt at home when I first met Matt and got to hear his mindset and approach to running the label. I got the sense early on that these guys really understand what bands and artists need in order to grow, and they provide a transparency that’s hard to come by in most corners of the industry. I’m excited to see what we can do together.
10. You will be going on tour soon. How would you describe your live performances? Do you have anything special lined up?
M.A.G.S. shows are like, brutal euphoria….you’re gonna want to bang your head and crowd surf mostly but you’ll also experience moments where you feel like you’re floating…..there’s a togetherness that pulls us all in and holds us close.
11. Where can fans listen to your music?
M.A.G.S. is on all streaming platforms and you can also purchase the albums on Bandcamp