The Mutaytor performed several shows nightly during Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights 2006.
Formula: What do you get when you combine 100 tribal drums, live-mixed electronica,fire performers, hoop dancers, aerial artists, John Avila (Oingo Boingo) on bass, Steve Reid (Rippingtons/Supertramp) on percussion, a live horn section, Chinese parade lions, giant screen visuals and a bevy of interactive dancers and performers?
The Mutaytor is part hip-grinding techno-retro-funk, part audience-interactive post-modern circus. The act takes drastically advanced elements of the Grateful Dead, Parliament-Funkadelic, the Crystal Method, Louis Prima and Blue Man Group and throws them directly at the audience as riotous surreal entertainment notable for “turning Civilians into Rockstars.” The sound is tight, the show manic, the vibe all-inclusively friendly. They are on stage, above the audience, IN the crowd. There’s nothing like the Mutaytor in show business today and they’ll probably have to spin off parts of itself in order to have any competition in the future.
Versatility: For an unsigned act to consistently sell out venues like the Fillmore, the Henry Fonda/Music Box Theatre and the Avalon is impressive. Their website www.mutaytor.com receives an average of 50,000 hits a day, and the client list this self-run troupe has managed to rack up is enviable even for a major label artist. The band’s modular structure and effortless adaptability allows for shows ranging in size from roving hand percussionists and dancers at intimate events to full-sized stadium shows with giant propane cannons. They’ve put on performances of varying size for clients including the L.A. Lakers, Cirque Du Soleil (Varekai and Zumanity openings), Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount Studios, Universal Theme Parks, E3 Video Game Convention, the Billboard DECA Awards and the Special Olympics. They’ve entertained at casinos, street fairs, underground parties, schools, universities, music therapy drum circles with disabled kids, mainstream movie premieres, film festivals, radio-sponsored festivals and trade shows. Miraculous, even by Hollywood standards, but mundane stuff indeed compared to the Mutaytor’s origins.
Inception: Born on the playa at the Burning Man Festival in 1996, the nascent act began when the founder, “Matty The Mutaytor” brought every instrument he had, laying it out on a stage of bubblewrap for anyone to play. It was a non-stop drum jam that expanded in ‘97 when he brought out a full drum kit and played two-hour solo drum concerts (a difficult feat at best to keep people’s attention). Within 30 minutes, the crowd of five hundred soon turned into a thousand with an endless array of performers spontaneously joining in. Then in ‘99, the first DJ came up and put beats behind it.
Foundation: The band’s guiding aesthetic, business model and utopian spirit comes from a loose tribal sense of connectedness far from the workday world. “The goal when we do a performance,” Matty reveals, “is to convert the time and space and place into a whole different dimension of reality.” A former heavy metal drummer, Matty wanted “to get away from heavy lead guitars and big rock lyrics and wanted something very drum heavy. At the same time I became curious about electronica and the trance music that was starting in techno. By matching a big drum attack with these electronic grooves it created a synergy for dancing and a template for visual expression.”
Acceleration: Once the requisite sweat was poured into the dream, things began to happen. People knew people who knew other people and all carried drums, equipment, eye-popping costumes and their own dancing toes into the Mutaytor camp. Musicians who’d worked with Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, Dave Alvin, Supertramp and the Rippingtons were incorporated into the band’s sound, adding muscle and aggression to the attack. A significant addition to the act was bassist John Avila, formerly of Oingo Boingo. “The first time I saw Mutaytor and my jaw was to the ground. I was pretty much blown away by what they do and the feeling of unpretentiousness when they do it. It was a well-thought out piece of showbiz, all the urban angst and the feeling of freedom, especially with the people flying through the air.”
Recent musical collaborations have further blurred the lines between the electronica, jam-band and rock communities. In the last few months, they have performed with musicians ranging from the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart, to Angelique Kidjo and Baba Maal, to Stephen Perkins from Jane’s Addiction, to Nine Inch Nails’ Chris Vrenna. Musical legends that trailblazed the way of bending genres have become fans, including Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips, Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo and Angelo Moore from Fishbone.
Self-Sufficiency: The shared ethic of “plot, scheme, toil, smash, repeat,” allows the Mutaytor’s components to approach logistical and technical problems with a dauntingly efficient hive intellect. Their fire safety document is a model of its kind, drawing on experience gained in hundreds of performances in venues all over America. The business model is inclusive and simple. Within the collective talents of the crew, the band writes and performs the music, manufactures the artwork, CD’s and merchandise, own the copyrights and trademarks, records in member’s own studios, and licenses the music and publishing.
Bottom Line: The Mutaytor is like a birthday in Vegas, Halloween and New Year’s rolled into every show. Adaptable to any stage or circumstance they are poised to remake the formula and raise the bar for what you should expect from a concert experience. The vibe they put over an audience has a way of mellowing the sourest disposition and untying the straitest lace. And with that in mind, The Mutaytor brings the labor and love, the lights and sound and color of the greatest show to surround you, no matter if you’re in front of the stage, getting pulled onto a gogo box, petting the Chinese parade lion, or sitting in the balcony looking face to face with a flying aerialist whooshing past with a wink in her eye.
“Mutayshun…because evolution takes too long.”
Edited by SadManDuck on 19 Dec 2006, 03:46
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