Mudlow: Sawyer’s Hope
This past spring, I was honored to be asked to edit the liner notes Rick Saunders was writing for the new Mudlow album, Sawyer’s Hope, and there couldn’t be a more evocative description of not only the music, but also the feel of the album than Rick’s words.
The music of Mudlow has been referred to as “noir blues”, and like any good noir story, their songs are packed with colorful characters. And like any good blues, their songs are packed with emotions that can scrape out the bottom of your soul, an effect achieved sometimes with the most simple but telling phrase and sometimes with the sound that spreads between the moment the blade pierces your heart and the moment you begin to feel the sting.
This album is one of the most gorgeous I’ve heard in a long while, and I was pleased to get a few words with band members, and damn fine people, Matt (drums) and Tobias (vocals, guitar) about the band and their new album.
Let’s give the readers some background: where are you all from and how did you get together?
(Matt) Me and Tobias have known each other for years and have played in bands together for most of that time, when our previous band ‘Crawl Limbo’ folded Tobias moved to Brighton and decided to start a new band. We had always played on the gig circuit in Brighton so knew most of the other local band members and had become friends with quite a few of them so finding a new line-up actually wasn’t too difficult, Trimble was there from the start with another Sax player Jules, our first bassist could only play ska because of his unusually fat fingers so we had to let him go. We asked Paul to join and Mudlow was born. We’re definitely a ‘Brighton‘ band and we all live in the city or surrounding area.
Based on the 8-year span between full-length albums, I’d guess the band isn’t what keeps food on the table. What are your daytime alter egos (day jobs)?
(M) Me and Tobias work for a friend in the heating trade. Paul works as a sound recording engineer/producer at Church Road Studios in Brighton (which is where the Mudlow magic happens!). Not sure what Trimble does, I think he’s either a pirate or a spy, depending on what he’s wearing.
Where does the title Sawyer’s Hope come from?
(Tobias) It’s a partly-imagined place that crops up as a lyric in a couple of our songs. I use maps and place names for inspiration and this came from combining the name of a farm and a wood. To me ‘Sawyer’s Hope’ sounds like an old man’s lifelong aspirations, did he achieve or fail? or is it just a name on a map?
I know you were shopping around for a label to release this album for a while. What was that process like? How did the deal come together with Motor Sounds Records?
(M) It wasn’t really a ‘process’ as such. We had in mind quite a few labels that we liked so we sent them copies/press etc but didn’t hear much back. We’d pretty successfully self-released our first record but we really wanted to work with someone else on this one and kinda have a labels name on which to hang our hat. We know the guys at Motor Sounds so we approached them to see if they would assist with putting this one out. Thankfully they were really keen to be involved so that was that. I guess you could say it’s a self-release but via an independent label.
Your songs are so cinematic and contain so many interesting stories. How do you approach songwriting? Any thoughts about writing a novel?
(T) The songs approach me. You can’t write anything until it’s ready to be written. Sitting and trying to force ideas doesn’t work. A train of thought might be triggered by one line that pops in to your head and then once it gets going let it flow and write down everything, then scrub out the crap and join the dots. The lyrics are mine but we work on the music as a band, we don’t have a formula for creating the songs and we approach each song differently so each has it’s own individuality.
I think about writing a book a lot but who has the time to do that?!
What’s next for the band? Any chance of an American tour in the foreseeable future?
(M) We will be playing some shows in support of the new record and will most likely tour here and in Europe. We have already ear-marked band funds for a return trip to the States so we’ll have to see how well Sawyer’s Hope sells. We definitely want to come back.
And because I get some of my best music recommendations from musicians, what have you been listening to lately?
(T) I like that Bruce Peninsula band, they’re like a choir trying to upset God.
(M) I vote for The Bonnevilles.
(T) Wait… I want to choose the Bonnevilles
(M) Well, you can’t. I did.
(T) Right! I’m leaving the band. [stomps out]
In addition to Sawyer’s Hope, Mudlow is generously offering an EP of bits and bobs called The Last Rung Down to Hell, which you can listen to and download right here.