MUSH Brings Solid Sound to the Table

It was only a couple weeks ago when WhySoBlu covered the June 26th mixed martial arts event that featured special guest and MMA star, Anderson Silva.  The fighting spectacular featured four bands that day with the headliner being a hard rock band simply known as MUSH.  The band played relentlessly, donned in black under the blistering summer sun.  Belting out tunes like Frostbite and Remembrance, the five-member band unleashed a torrent of original works along with covers from bands like Korn. Consisting of band member “Red” Robert James (vocals), Matt Mencke (bass guitar), Drew Mencke (guitar), Jeff Griffore (guitar), and “Cowboy” Josh Messer (drums), MUSH delivers a gritty, almost industrial-style sound with penetrating guitar riffs and expressive lyrics that ultimately act like a fully juiced battery.  They carry an intense sound and have an obvious stage presence that is often lacking in bands performing on smaller, local stages.

Most in attendance on that June 26th event wandered around while Mush was about to take the stage.  As the band progressed from one song to the next, they began to amass a group of listeners that were previously more focused on looking at custom bikes and meeting with the MMA athletes.  Onlookers were no doubt attracted to the band’s sound as well as their energy while lead singer Red periodically trotted and two-stepped across the stage, projecting the band’s metal-like symphonic aura.  It was then that it became apparent these guys were no strangers to the world of performing.

After their recent gig, Why So Blu contacted Red and asked him about the band’s origin, his own musical background, and where the band would like to go from here.  Energized on stage, the singer took off his performance hat and traded up for one revealing his cool demeanor and artistic determination.  Along with bass guitarist Matt Mencke, the duo was able to answer a few of our questions while providing a little education on MUSH.

WSB: When did Mush form?

Red: The Mencke brothers, Matt and Drew grew up in music together and do what they do best; make noise!  The two gathered a vocalist and second guitarist in 2002 and began structured song writing and jamming.  The band finally formed in late 2004 when we finally stumbled across a drummer.  Various line-ups (each time keeping MUSH alive) and additions brought us Cowboy in 2005, and myself and Jake in 2009.  They had a few guitar players and vocalists in and out, but it wasn’t until 2009 that the band came across Jake, a prodigy child, as the talent of a legend on guitar.  With Drew’s excellent songwriting ability and Jake’s natural talent, MUSH is able to complete the sound that is the band.  The muscians click with Matt’s catchy, rythmic bass lines and Cowboy proves to be the backbone with his unique drum patterns and sense of style.  It is truly a gift to sing and express through the music this band can produce, as it is genuine, original, and catchy!

WSB: How did the band get its name?

Matt Mencke: We had just finished writing our first song at my aptartment at the time, this was in 2002.  I went over to the fridge to grab a beer and someone asked if we had a name yet.  I replied no.  In response to that, that person then asked, “Well what do you sound like?” to which I replied, “It sounds like a bunch of MUSH.”  Everybody in the room glanced around at each other smiling in realization that the name had been chosen.  Right then and there, MUSH was born.

WSB: Are you a founding member?  If not, when did you come aboard?

Red: As much as I would LOVE the credit, I am not a founder of the band.  I did a 3 month (yes 3 months) audition for the band spring of last year as they were trying to find a replacement vocalist.  What I learned is they are very serious about the future of the group, and take pride in the work.  The goal was to find the key member and get the product 100%.  Noboody enjoys starting all over again.  This was a chance to get it right if i may be so be so bold to say.

WSB: What recordings does MUSH have to its credit?

Red: Two demos and two E.P.’s.  MUSH had one recorded in 2004, one in 2006, one in 2007, and a current E.P. available now.

WSB: Who are/were your musical inspirations and why?

Red: Michael Jackson is a huge inspiration, someone who felt the music and put on the most entertaining shows to date.  Not only could he write and sing, but he could perform in flawless fashion.  Dancing and getting into the music set another level to the entertainment.  Eminem inspired creative writing, showed me no boundries and gave me a chance to believe i could write my own soundtrack to life.  I put alot of ‘hip-hop’ swing to my step from the love of lyrical word play.  I could go on about inspirations, but those two helped develop my character not only as a singer, but as an entertainer.

WSB: Are there any plans for an album in the near future?

Red: We’re currently in the pre-production phase of a full length studio album with the aspirations of recording at the end of this year/early next year for a middle of 2011 release.

WSB: How much of a performance is covered material and how much is MUSH’s original material?

Red: We are most definitely an ‘all original’ band.  Sometimes 85% to 90% of what we play out is original, while about 10% to 15% percent are covers.  Doing covers gives us a chance to show how diverse we are in our abilities and gives the listeners a chance to hear favorites with our own twist.  I have a pretty good vocal range and doing covers from bands like Disturbed, Korn, Breaking Benjamin, Chevelle, or even Sir-Mix-Alot is not only an honor, but a chance to show how capable we are at hitting any fanbase and giving them something they can enjoy.

WSB: I’m assuming you write the songs or have a part in doing so.  Would that be correct?

Red: We all make a group effort in making songs come together.  As far as the lyrics, that’s all me.  Drew brings a lot to the table from his end, and everyone brainstorms to make each song complete.  We are very TEAM-oriented.

WSB: Where do the ideas for your songs come from?

Red: Some of the songs are real life experiences, some are just the creative mind wrapped in the emotion of the music.  My best attribute is to connect with every pattern and rhythm and produce lyrics that you would find “meant to be.”  We have all had our problems in life and the best thing about writing to music is that outlet, that release.  We also have our good times, when the energy of excitement can be felt, and what better then go full blast on the speakers?  Songs come from everywhere really.  When the band strikes up a tune, the emotion sets in, or when I’m alone, I can re-create an experience.

WSB: How long have you been singing?

Red: I have been singing as early as 5 years old, performing at 9 dancing, and started writing lyrics at 11.  When I was 15, I began rapping and freestyling as a hobby before I joined an alternative band, and at 20 I signed to an indie label doing hip-hop.  Around 2005 I joined another band and began playing the same shows with the band MUSH.  I always admired those guys for the unique sound and stage show, so I’ve always had a history with the band on the local scene.  It’s funny how things work out.

WSB: What do you think separates MUSH from other bands in your area?

Red: Without a doubt it would be experience.  I don’t want to take anything away from any other bands out there, mind you.  Second, I would say the live show.  No stage tricks, no vocal boosts, just all-out talent and skill.  We pride ourselves on our entertainment value.  We do not carry ourselves as rockstars, but we sure do have the charisma.  People come to see a show, lose themselves in the event, and we know how to breed the energy!  Every show is non-stop action, and the best part is people walk away with a CD and get a second treat…all original music to fall in love with.  Never boring, always wanting more, that’s our product of music.

WSB: During a MUSH performance, it’s obvious you get into the music and move around the stage, expressing that rhythm and energy you feel.  How important do you think it is for the audience for you to command a stage presence?

Red: Stage presence is everything.  When I feel the vibe standing in front of the band, I’m never nervous, I’m in my own world.  I get locked into the moment with every hi-hat hit, every bass melody, and I get lost in the music.  I feel exactly how I felt when I wrote lyrics.  In order for people to understand where you’re coming from and connect with you in that very same moment, you have to express.  Music is our life, and on the stage we make it very clear how serious we are.  It is very important for me because this is who we are, and we can’t get results unless people see that.

WSB: What is the ultimate goal for you guys?

Red: We want to be known for what we do and reach a wide audience.  I’d like to reach out and connect to people, inspire, motivate, heal, comfort, and entertain.  Music has always been known to do such things.  To me, the reward is finding the common bond in all of us and enjoying the gift together.  I’m sure I can speak for everyone when I say we want to be successful in the music industry.

WSB: Thanks, guys! We look forward to hearing more from the band in the future!

Photography courtesy of Scott T. Morrison / Discovery Photo

For more information on MUSH, check out their official site as well as their spots on Reverb Nation, Twitter, and MySpace:






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