On Aug. 8, 2017 Paul Meany of New Orleans alternative group Mutemath released a statement bearing sad news. Darren King, drummer and a founding group member, has parted ways with the band and will no longer participate in Mutemath performances for the time being.
This news comes as a most unexpected shock. Mutemath is currently gearing up for their latest tour, “Play Dead Live,” which will take them across the United States and Europe. The studio album accompanying the tour is scheduled for release on Sept. 8. In his statement, Meany expresses heartfelt sadness over King’s departure and asks fans to “give [them] the benefit of the doubt.” According to Meany, thoughts of canceling the tour or bringing another drummer onboard were both “unimaginable.” However, though the decision was no doubt a difficult one to make, King’s role as the drummer will be filled by David “Hutch” Hutchinson.
Fans may remember Hutchinson as a member of the Christian rock group Earthsuit, which was formed in 1995 by Paul Meany and Adam LaClave. In the statement, Meany assures fans that Hutchinson is “currently rehearsing nonstop to properly honor the amazing work Darren has contributed to this band.”
King, a Missouri native, formed Mutemath with Paul Meany in 2002. In an interview with “The Huffington Post,” King recounts moving to New Orleans after high school and briefly touring as the percussionist for Earthsuit. He discusses how his personal journey through faith, music and his youth eventually lead to his deeply passionate love for drumming. The musical relationship formed with Meany grew from instrumental tracks traded via mail into a project that would eventually become Mutemath.
As a longtime listener, the news of Darren King’s decision to leave Mutemath was particularly difficult to swallow. I was introduced to Mutemath as a college freshman several years ago. I will not profess to be an expert on each band member or the group’s fascinating history. However, the discovery could not have come at a better time. “Armistice” was the first album I listened to, and I quickly sought out every other song I could get my hands on. I was surprised and delighted to discover the connection to Earthsuit, a band whose work was a fond influence on the musical tastes of my youth.
The music Mutemath creates is more than just something to listen to. It is something to absorb and experience. It seemed that there was a song to suit every situation during what was, for me, a time of considerable stress and discovery. I loved nothing more than driving around empty roads on cool nights with the windows down and Mutemath playing far too loud. The differences between each album and song and the varied meaning within were and will continue to be some of my most favored aspects of Mutemath’s music.
In a previous article, I discussed the fascinating nature of Mutemath’s sound. Though inspiration can be drawn from a myriad of sources, the ability to take those sources and shape them into something wholly unique is a true gift. The group has been featured on numerous soundtracks. Their tours and collaborations now include well-recognized names like Twenty One Pilots, who Mutemath opened for on tour last year. Currently, the group consists of Paul Meany, Todd Gummerman and Jonathan Allen, with Hutchinson joining for the year-long tour. Former members include Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas, Greg Hill and now Darren King. In my opinion, each member of Mutemath, former and present, shape the nature of every song.
I had the opportunity to see Mutemath live for the first time at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2016. It was hot, crowded, loud … and arguably one of the most incredible shows I had seen in twenty-five years. I have attended concerts in venues that seat thousands and sell out in seconds, but few things compare to seeing a favorite group live for the first time. I was not disappointed.
I positioned myself as close to the front as possible, wedged firmly in the crowd, right in front of the drums. The incredibly talented English group Nothing But Thieves served as a jaw-dropping opening act and set the tone for what would be an awe-inspiring show. I danced, sang and screamed myself hoarse. To this day, I can confidently say that I have never witnessed anything quite as cool as Paul Meany crowd surfing on top of a light-up air mattress. Not once did I think the show I saw that night would lead to the article I write today.
As I sit here typing, recalling the overwhelming love and gratitude that the group showed their fans leaves a fistful of emotions in my chest. Meany stated in his announcement, “We’re eternally grateful for all of you and look forward to seeing you soon.” Though Darren King’s departure may be a difficult new chapter, there is always room for beautiful growth within change. I sincerely hope that will be the case for Mutemath and King, whatever may be the reason for his decision.
I am still looking forward to their upcoming tour, which will play in Oklahoma at The Brady Theater in October before moving on to Arizona, California and a number of fantastic locations. Be sure to keep an eye out for “Play Dead Live” content here on “MACG Magazine.”
(Images courtesy of author and Mutemath’s Facebook; YouTube.)