Repairing Broken Molds
When success implodes a band, it’s a tough pill to swallow for everyone involved. Climbing the rungs of regional notoriety can be fun if accomplished over time; but if you’re Mozart Season, and the ladder was as slippery a slope as it was in the band’s formative year, you can almost hear the thud before the fall. After catapulting their traditional NorCal screamo into an arc of sold-out shows in the greater Sacramento area, opening for national headlining acts, and parading their verve for an increasingly rabid mass, the bottom fell out and left the group tattered somewhere in El Paso, Texas, on their first tour. Splintered and salvaged, Mozart Season has endured more lineup changes than they’d care to mention, and more false-starts than Liu Xiang at the Beijing Olympics. But there’s hope around every corner, and thus Mozart Season has chalked up their losses, and finally focused on making up for lost time. The band will release their first recording since 2006 with the Apotheosis EP, an invasive, though somewhat innovative, new disc that swelters under the pangs of drooling metal, with only hints of the melodic underwriting of their previous efforts.
The band will be back in shape, new lineup in tow, Saturday, Jan. 17 at the Boardwalk, playing alongside Dance Gavin Dance and Consider the Thief. Vocalist Nate and bassist Troy were kind enough to give Submerge an update on their new EP, their past and their future.
What was the impetus for the band to reunite after the breakup?
Nate: It all started with wanting to play a reunion show for fun. Once we all started jamming again, we really began to realize just how much we missed playing music. We wrote a new song after about two weeks or so of playing together again and decided that we wanted to get back together. A year later, we’ve got an EP done, the most solid lineup we’ve ever had, and are working at proving ourselves to anyone who has ever doubted us
How supportive has the scene in Sacramento been with regard to you making the decision to reform?
Nate: Well, the two shows that we’ve played have been awesome! But that’s only two shows. I think we still have a lot of work to do to gain back what we had going for us. We were all very humbled by the breakup, and we’ve been thrilled with the response to our new music. We just hope that we can keep playing music for a long time and constantly get better.
Troy: The reception of our new music has been incredible. New fans, old fans and even people who formerly disliked us have now embraced our new sound and it’s been amazing. This is only the beginning for us, though; we want to make our mark in Sacramento and then on an even bigger level.
Explain the consistent lineup changes in the band. What might you point out as the reasons for the constant shift in personnel over the years?
Nate: For some it’s been commitment issues, and for others it’s been because of wanting to better their lives in other ways than music like college, careers or other bands. The band now is stronger than ever. We’re seriously attached at the hip. We are friends before we are band mates, so it works out way better. We respect each other and work well together. When we all started to play together, the chemistry was there. It’s by far the strongest and most solid lineup we have had and none of us are going anywhere.
Do you feel like your almost immediate regional success has helped or hindered the band?
Nate: It’s definitely helped the band. We weren’t expecting such a quick response to everything we’ve been working on and we have so much momentum from it that we’re not going to let anything stop us. We plan on touring the West Coast as soon as possible and playing regionally so we can push this new album.
Troy: We haven’t let anything go to our heads. Although we do have a lot of regional success, we are pushing ourselves constantly to get better and better.
What would you say is the band’s new modus operandi? Or what would be your new philosophy for the continued evolution of the band?
Nate: “Party Hard, Work harder.” We realized that this takes a lot work, and we’re going to prove ourselves in ’09 and for the years after.
What sort of artistic resonance does the title of your new album, Apotheosis, have for the band? Is it a metaphor for the resurgence of the group?
Nate: It’s definitely a metaphor for the resurgence of the group. Mozart Season has been to hell and back, and we don’t have much to show for it anymore because we disappeared for a year. Some of us realized a year after we broke up that it was the biggest mistake of our lives. We felt discouraged, beat down, like no one would ever take us seriously again. We knew if we got back together, it was going to have to be different. We had to be doing it for the right reasons and we had to be writing music that we would want to listen to in our cars, or on our computers or wherever. We have just been taking every challenge and bump in the road head on and as fast as we can.
Troy: We took the name Apotheosis from a part of “the hero’s journey” [an excerpt from Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces] I remember learning all about it in high school and it seemed appropriate for our situation. As we had heard it defined, the Apotheosis is where the hero’s ego is disintegrated in a breakthrough expansion of consciousness. Quite frequently the hero’s idea of reality is changed; the hero may find an ability to do new things or to see a larger point of view. And that is exactly where we found ourselves while writing this new album. The band had broken up for a year and come back with a new idea of reality and what we wanted to be doing musically and that’s portrayed through our new sound.
In what direction did you attempt to push your musical spectrum on your new album?
Nate: We didn’t go into it with any direction or idea of what the album was going to sound like. That was our problem in the past. We were always trying to fit the screamo mold because that’s what people seemed to love. We had all sorts of issues trying to get this album done and those feelings of frustration I think definitely shaped the outcome of this EP. Losing Joel [vocalist], we lost our old sound completely, so this EP is just a mixture of what everyone new to the band and the veterans brought to the table during the writing process.
Troy: When we started to write this album, we had no set plan as to what our sound was going to be. While it’s nearly impossible to be “original,” we wanted to stray away from fitting into any specific “sounds like” category. We wanted to break away from the old sound and produce a more mature album, and I think we did just that. The old music was written nearly three years ago; our skill as musicians and songwriters has gotten far better since then and I think that shows.