ELECTRIC MUD WILL NEVER MAKE DANGEROUS PROMISES THEY CAN’T KEEP By Sandra Castillo
It was on a June afternoon, at the 2019 Art Around Adams Street Festival in San Diego, when the crowd had grown considerably in size, as the band launched torpedoes on a tricked-out, stone-cold version of the Rolling Stones classic “Under My Thumb.” Unbridled, raucous, with a propensity-for-danger, the spitfire performance from the wild-eyed, tattooed mavericks on stage inspired those in the audience to raise their fists in the air, unleashing the kind of raw, manic energy reserved for only those deserving of such warranted attention.
Renowned for its straight-up, balls-to-the-wall approach to Rock and Roll infused with just the right amount of testosterone-fueled, heavy on the swagger, Electric Mud is one of San Diego’s most revered acts and the recipient of the San Diego Music Award in 2019 for “Best Rock Album of the Year” for Highway Refugees. The band has its musical roots firmly entrenched in the same, fertile soil that legendary acts such as Otis Redding, Tom Petty, Waylon Jennings and the (aforementioned) Stones have cultivated. Their sound, an amalgamation of early American Blues and Country, with a generous dose of Motown thrown in for good measure, harkens back to when radio was King and absent of the commercially slick piffle plaguing the airwaves in the 21st century.
Well-seasoned veterans of the open road, who have logged thousands of miles to deliver their own brand of high-octane Rock and Soul, Electric Mud have performed extensively throughout the United States, including stops at the famed Whiskey A Go Go and Molly Malone’s in L.A., the Cutting Room and Café Wha? in NY, House of Blues in Anaheim and Music Box in San Diego. Did we fail to mention they also made the 2500-mile trek to flex some musical muscle at the iconic “My Father’s Place” in Roslyn, NY, the same venue that Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Aerosmith and countless others have performed.
RG Magazine recently caught up with brothers Marc and Matt Hansen (vocals/guitar and drums, respectively), guitarist Colton Cori and bassist Phil Narmada to wax electric on how the band came to fruition and what it’s like to travel long distances on the open road to play music to the masses. Here is what they shared with the publication.
For the record, it was Marc and Matt Hansen who were both living in Staten Island, NY, when they founded Electric Mud in 2008. Who else was an integral part of the band?
Founding members other than Matty and Marc were A.J. Parascandola and Dave Stagno.
In 2010, Marc and Matt both left NY to join the military. What, exactly, prompted their decision to do this?
We all really felt a call-of-duty at some point in our lives, which led us to the military. Part of this was based on patriotism, as well as having family members who had served. This also ended up bringing the current members together.
How and where did you team up with Colton and Phil?
Colton and Phil met Matty and Marc in the Navy. Colton joined the band shortly after his end of enlistment in 2014. Phil joined the band in 2018. This was due to a crazy turn of events of which Matthew Sorena (prior bassist) moved on to pursue a career in musical therapy. Phil gets stationed on the West Coast in perfect time to step in and go on tour with the band. Learned all the songs within a couple weeks, and we went on the road in October and November of 2018.
Did this coalition of talent and ambition to create music as a band work well from the very beginning? Was there enough chemistry already present between each member, when you guys united as Electric Mud?
Matty and Marc, being brothers, always had a chemistry in of itself, but each version of the band seemed to and continues to have its own spin on that chemistry. If you listen to the original band, it still sounds like Electric Mud, but now it has taken on a whole, new personality. Each member has been a great fit in his own way, but Phil really glues the band together in personal and musical chemistry possibly more than anyone else.
Where did Electric Mud play its first show?
Electric Mud’s first show was at a place called the Cup in Staten Island, NY. This is where Marc first met his future wife, Roxana, although they wouldn’t get together until years afterwards. It went well, because they are happily married now with two kids.
Who composes the band’s songs?
The songs are written in a combination of steps, beginning with raw jams during rehearsals and culminating in different ways. Sometimes they are works-in-progress over time, other times they seem to flow very quickly. The music always comes very naturally, whether it be all at once or over time, but the lyrics are all Marcus. Much of the creative process on albums are done throughout the editing and overdubbing process, as well. Songs like “Time Apart” and “Oregon,” off the Dangerous Promises album, were written the night before the sessions, so you never know.
Let’s pretend this writer is a fly on the wall and lands on it while Electric Mud is grinding away at a rehearsal session. What am I going to see and hear?
A fly on the wall during rehearsals would see a combination of us just jamming and exploring sounds, riffs sort of free form or we could be going over songs trying to get a certain feel or emotion that we would like to convey out of an existing song.
Who are some of the musical influences for the band?
Musical influences are a wide range between the origins of Rock and Roll which would be the Blues, going all the way back to Robert Johnson and beyond. Fast forward to Elvis and Chuck Berry in the ‘50s, all the way through the Stones and Dylan to the present day. Many ‘70s influences, including the Eagles, Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac, just to name a few. Marc and Matty have really introduced Phil and Colton to a lot of Soul and R & B from the sixties (Stax, Motown, etc.), as well, which comes into play. We also listen to a lot of older country music, like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Jr., Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash. Later influences might include stuff like Wilco and Weezer, where Matty got the roots of his drumming influence. The list goes on, but we appreciate any good sounds and true, musical visionaries.
Describe what it’s like to travel to other cities to bring the band’s music to the masses.
Traveling to other cities and bringing our music is what we live for. We’ve always been fond of the road and of playing music, so to bring the two together really completes us as people, because we’re living out our passion in that way. Connecting with different folks all over the place is really what it’s all about.
The band’s journeys have taken it through some pretty diverse terrain, including stops in Monument Valley and Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. Is this kind of taking to the open road approach an enjoyable one or does the thousands of miles covered in a moving vehicle become a drudgery at some point?
The miles of road logged have really been some of the best times of our lives. Anything worthwhile requires some sort of grind, but the experience is so fulfilling that this has never been looked at as any sort of inconvenience. We work hard all year long to get to go out on the road and do our thing, so when it finally happens, it’s an enormous release. It’s really a spiritual experience to be living out your dream that not many people get to do.
What does it mean to be able to make music that has impacted you and the lives of those who love Electric Mud?
Really, it means everything to us to be putting our music out there for others to enjoy. Win, lose or draw, the important thing is that we’re playing from our hearts that makes people feel what we feel inside. I think that’s the most important part of the ride. A good example is Big Star or Gram Parsons, bands that never had great, commercial success, but certain people, including us, still love their music so much and are heavily influenced by it. There’s so much to be said for those who put every ounce of themselves into what they do. I think that’s how you stand the test of time. I don’t think any band that ever started out doing it for the money ever did.
Is there a motto the band lives by?
“Anything That’s Rock N’ Roll’s Fine.”
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