The Desire Remixes Released

The Desire Remixes Common CoverThe Desire Remixes Bandcamp CoverToday marks the release of The Desire Remixes, a companion album to last year’s album, Desire. For core member of mrmoth, Michael Bird, the record became a way to keep that album alive in a time when, out of necessity, he couldn’t promote it any other way. “In January, I had started putting together what I’d hoped would be a live set that I could start performing live in late spring. And then of course, by March those plans were scotched. Since I was already knee-deep in the tracks I decided to make a remix album.”

Bird’s interest in dance music really begins with the concept of the extended remix, which was somewhat common for pop music released from the 70s through the 90s. A little different than what listeners might think of as a contemporary remix, songs were either re-performed as a longer, jammier version, or as studio techniques evolved, cut from the original tracks and completely reorganized.

“I remember quite clearly the first time I heard an extended remix of a song. It was the Night Version of Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry Like Wolf.’ A radio station in Wichita was playing it late at night as we drove through the city. I was surprised when the song took a different turn than what I expected, giving extended focus to the arpeggiated keyboard with the bass and drums locked in. My mom was always a fan of dance music and one of her records I always loved so much was her copy of Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder’s ‘I Feel Love,’ which had some commonalities. But this felt like something decidedly new and something that belonged to me. It was an invitation into the layers of the music and I was fascinated.”

For Bird, his love of dance music was codified through that experience. “As a kid, if I had the choice, I would always buy the 12″ version of a single. The extended remix was a way to really delve into a song and admire its component parts in greater detail. You weren’t just left with the rush of a song, but rather you could live in it a little and vibe. For the songs that meant so much to me, that was a huge part of the experience.”

Given the opportunity to reconsider the tracks from Desire, Bird had a particular mission in mind in re-approaching the songs. “When you work on a track, you spend an inordinate amount of time on each layer, selecting the sound, reflecting on how it interplays with other layers, creating a sense of depth and architecture. Each element is poured over surgically. Then, with my music, it comes time to layer vocals in and the voice draws so much attention to itself. Obviously, my lyrics and my voice are important to me. But it breaks my heart sometimes to hear aspects of a track that I really appreciate jumped over quickly or buried in the mix. These remixes were a chance to rectify that. To really explore all that they are.”

“I had begun working on this album during and after my time in People’s Punk Band. Tim (Mohn) and I really tried to keep that material lean, mercilessly cutting anything unessential or unnecessary for the songs. I was still in that mindset when I made Desire, somewhat, but that’s really out of keeping with my back catalog. This was a chance to reimagine the songs in such a way that they’d fit more in line with what most people appreciate of mrmoth.”

The Desire Remixes features a surprising breadth of styles and variety, ranging from more aggressive takes on “And Now the Reckoning” and “Autonomy” to classic club versions of “Gone Down,” “Shark Eyes,” and “Metropolitan,” to lush reinterpretations of the afore-mentioned “And Now the Reckoning,” “Gone Down,” and even a sprawling, orchestral-inspired re-envisioning of “Call On Your Stars.”

“‘Call On Your Stars’ has become the most popular of the newer tracks and I knew I needed to include it on this project, but it doesn’t really need extended or monkeyed with very much. It was the last thing I completed for this album and once I figured out what to do with it, it fell together quite easily.”

The Desire Remixes also features two new songs, both worked on during the Desire sessions, but ultimately yet incomplete at the album’s completion. “I like making remixes but they’re not the same as making something new. So I really have to walk a balance with making remixes, in that I need to feel like something new is coming out of the experience and I’m not just rehashing the same song over and over again. I had a couple of songs that were in the offing, and I decided I would come back and finish those. Those tracks would go on to be the new songs that are added to the remix collection — ‘Desolation’ and ‘Sleep.’”

“Desolation” was released as a single earlier this month, paired with a cover of Duran Duran’s “Planet Earth” and a selection of supporting remixes of both tracks.

“‘Desolation’ is about this ecological quicksand that we’ve found ourselves in. But it’s also sort of more than that I think. Greta Thunberg had gotten me thinking about speaking to the future for this moment we’re in presently. And that’s where the lyrics came from. It sort of a reflection of the discourse around what we see happening why we seem so paralyzed from doing anything at all about it. I had the lyrics written and finished, and then COVID happened, and in a weird way, it was apparent that the same mechanisms of greed and misinformation were being leveraged. As you started to see the number of dead growing, it became apparent that this is a pattern we’re stuck in. It’s so note-for-note similar it’s hard not to see it as intentional, and masochistic, and systemic.”

The other new song on the album, “Sleep,” is a quiet and tender ballad and closes The Desire Remixes. The song has its roots deep in the original run of mrmoth. “It was written just after I finished Unto the Waste Land in 2003. I was feeling so ambitious and empowered after that album, but that song was just beyond what I was capable of at the time. There’s a version of it from that era, but every pass I’d take at the vocal left me dissatisfied. I wasn’t developed enough yet as a singer. I had earmarked it as a song that would fit in naturally on Desire, but when the title track came together, I knew ‘Sleep’ wouldn’t be needed just yet.”

For Bird, more than a mere celebration and appreciation of the Desire songs, this album also marks an important ending. “This is really meant as closure for this era. The next work I make will be a return to the classic format of the band. But more on that another time…”

The Desire Remixes is available at all online merchants and digital streaming platforms. An exclusive cover image is available on the Bandcamp version.

Desolation | Planet Earth EP released

The Desolation | Planet Earth EP CoverToday mrmoth releases a new EP, featuring the double A-Side single, “Desolation” and “Planet Earth.” The EP is exclusive to Bandcamp starting today, October 2, 2020, with all other online streaming services and retailers offering it beginning October 6, 2020.

Main creative force behind mrmoth, Michael Bird explains its origins. “‘Desolation’ was an unfinished track from the Desire sessions. Most of my songs tend to get built up in sections that I move around modularly until the song becomes something cohesive. ‘Desolation’ was originally cut from the tracks that would go on to become a different song called ‘Shark Eyes’ from that album.”

“The melody was so strong and so different, it was soon apparent it was a completely different track. It had such a hook to it that I would get stuck in, looping it around and around until finally, I just had to put the thing down and move on with the album. I would get stuck in that chorus and I could never figure out where to go from there. The reason why was because I trying to make a different song at the time.”

The resultant song is one very different in tone from the one that had nudged it into existence. A bleak synopsis of the political and social discourse around our worsening environment, the song seems to predict this moment as the beginning of the end of the whole human race. It’s a strange direction for a song with a beautiful, soaring melody and dance beats propelling it forward.

“I did sort of promise myself that if I ever picked the song up again, I wouldn’t do anything with it until I could cut the hooky-ness of it with something really substantial lyrically. It’s kinda pretty and hooky and it was the catchiest thing I’ve ever come up, at least from my point of view. And I just didn’t want to pair that with something that was sentimental or light.”

“‘Desolation’ is about this ecological quicksand that we’ve found ourselves in. But it’s also sort of more than that I think. Greta Thunberg had gotten me thinking about speaking to the future for this moment we’re in presently. And that’s where the lyrics came from. It sort of a reflection of the discourse around what we see happening why we seem so paralyzed from doing anything at all about it. I had the lyrics written and finished, and then COVID happened, and in a weird way, it was apparent that the same mechanisms of greed and misinformation were being leveraged. As you started to see the number of dead growing, it became apparent that this is a pattern we’re stuck in. It’s so note-for-note similar it’s hard not to see it as intentional, and masochistic, and systemic.”

The decision to record new songs came out of a need to make something new while working on the band’s new remix album, The Desire Remixes, which will land October 23.

“In January, I had started putting together what I’d hoped would be a live set that I could start performing live in late spring. And then of course, by March those plans were scotched. Since I was already knee-deep in the tracks I decided to make a remix album. I like making remixes but they’re not the same as making something new. So I really have to walk a balance with making remixes, in that I need to feel like something new is coming out of the experience and I’m not just rehashing the same song over and over again.”

“I had a couple of songs that were in the offing, and I decided I would come back and finish those. Those tracks would go on to be the new songs that are added to the remix collection — ‘Desolation’ and ‘Sleep.’”

For the new EP, “Desolation” is paired with a cover of Duran Duran’s “Planet Earth.” Anticipating the song’s 40th anniversary next year, this cover embraces the future-retro vision of the original and, like “Desolation,” reiterates its themes. As the human race stands on the cataclysmic brink of ecological collapse, we are forced to confront what we have made of our “Planet Earth.”

Bird elaborates, explaining that the cover’s genesis started with the suggestion of longtime mrmoth bassist, Bryan Leighty. “Bryan suggested the track around the time we finished our Cure cover, “Fight.” I’d once toyed with doing “Sound of Thunder” back when I was working on Unto the Waste Land, going so far as to complete some sequencer programming on it. That take got lost in the shuffle of finishing that album, but Duran Duran have always been a huge influence on me, so I was certain I’d eventually get around to them. When Bryan suggested it, I knew it was a natural fit. It took a little bit of time for me to work out how I wanted to approach it, but eventually everything fell together.”

“I have very vivid memories of teaching myself to sing, adolescently warbling over their live album Arena while cleaning out the family garage as a pre-teen. I was terrible, but my will was such that I was determined to figure out how to do it. It’s very full-circle now to revisit one of those songs and finally be able to put my own stamp on it.”

In line with the forthcoming The Desire Remixes, rounding out the EP will be four remixes, including one by Bird’s friends in Ashland, Ohio’s Crysmile. “Rachel is one of the first friends I made when I moved here and she remains one of my dearest. I’m so pleased she and Logan contributed such an outstanding remix.”

The “Desolation”/”Planet Earth” EP is out now, via Bandcamp. It includes the two singles and four remixes (including one by Crysmile).

The Desire Remixes album will release October 23, with 11 tracks, consisting of 9 extended remixes of songs from that album, as well as new songs, “Desolation” and “Sleep.” The concept of this album was to re-explore some of the hidden layers of the songs on 2019’s Desire in the classic, 80s-style extended remix format. Some songs are expansions of the original structures, while others are radically re-imagined. More details on this album to follow.

“Protected” Official Music Video Released

Today marks the release of the music video for “Protected,” the opening track from the new mrmoth album, Desire. Directed, photographed and edited by core member of mrmoth, Michael Bird, the video was inspired by the classic music videos of Anton Corbijn, and the films of Ingmar Bergman, Jean Cocteau and Luis Buñuel. The video was shot over September and October in and around Mohican National Park and is produced by and stars Sage Haines. Make up for the video was realized by Rachel Falb. It is the first mrmoth music video released since 2004’s “Forever.”

New album Desire is released

Click here to listen to Desire now.

Musician Michael Bird, the core member of the band mrmoth, announces the band’s first album since 2003’s Unto the Waste Land. The new album, Desire, features nine songs, written and produced exclusively by Bird. It is Bird’s most autobiographical music to date and also marks a departure musically from the band’s past work.

“While I was away from mrmoth as a concern, I had spent a couple years playing in a punk band as a rhythm guitarist. I’d found myself gravitating back toward more purely electronic music in response, out of a need for balance I think. I was only playing guitar in that band so it followed that escape meant more often than not that I’d be programming beats and writing lyrics for fun. When my relationship with that band concluded, the next logical step was to turn those experiments into proper music. The first couple of things I worked on after the conclusion of that band were largely unfinished ideas from that period, which is where the ‘White Fragility’ single came from.”

“I was also being hugely influenced by what were then a new generation of really unique and experimental electronic acts, like HEALTH, Gazelle Twin, I Speak Machine, Fuck Buttons, Blanck Mass and Gesaffelstein. I was so jealous of the way in which those acts were redefining the assumptions about what beat driven electronic music was obligated to do. I wanted to use that same license in the context of mrmoth. While I am still decidedly a traditional song writer, I wanted to see what I could do in pushing the electronic arrangements.”

“Paradoxically, the outcome was that I really reconnected with the piano, which if anything, seemed to step up and take the place the guitars used to occupy. There’s still quite a bit of guitar on this record, but it isn’t really the point the way it has been on the past records. Playing guitar in the punk band left me without the feeling that I had anything to prove as a guitarist. And the last thing I wanted to do afterward was play guitar, anyway.”

“The ideas on this record have their origins in a long range of years. Since Waste Land, I intentionally took time off from the band as a concern. I always knew I’d return to it, but I had other things that monopolized my attention. My fine art education had lead me to a career as a college professor, with all the professional and artistic demands that go with that. There just wasn’t that much time left on balance to work on music. A couple years becomes five becomes 10 and before you know it, you question whether or not anyone knows or cares that you once made music as your primary concern.”

A series of digital reissues of the band’s 2000s-era back catalog were well-received and Bird was confident that perhaps there would be a reason to re-approach the subject.

“People would email me from time to time, asking where they might find ‘Everybody Wants to Fuck’ and I was convinced that maybe it was time to let the streaming world use the catalog as it would. It was just sitting on my hard drives otherwise, so why not? Anyway, there was enough motion on all that, with next to no promotion, so I was conscious that I probably still had as much of an audience as I ever had so I decided to gradually test the waters with a few singles.”

Those singles make up a solid run of the album’s first half. “I was very much easing into this. I had to see if it was worthwhile for myself, to see if I had anything to say, or the means to say it. I used the covers we released as singles to work on technical concerns. But by the time I had released ‘Call On Your Stars’ as a single, I knew full well that there was an album in the offing and I began tooling away at an ever-evolving set of demos until the thing properly took form.”

With two years of labor built into them, this is the most polished and confident mrmoth album in the catalog, and strangely also the shortest.

“It’s funny because there’s more lyrics and more music in this record than the back catalog, but it’s about a third shorter. I was working hard toward a concise record that delivered the goods and bounced out. I was thinking very hard about techno pop records of the 80s, where atmosphere and experimentation were explored within the constraints of pop singles. With the previous work, any exploration was really pushed to the front, even ahead of the songs at times. But if I’m trying to reconnect with an audience, it occurred to me that I ought not put a bunch of obstacles in the way.”

Exploring a running theme of a life in the midst of redefinition, these songs speak candidly about that process. While not a concept album, it’s not difficult to see a common thread in the collection.

“When it came right down to it, if I was going to write lyrics again, I needed them to be closer to myself, without the old style of mythologizing I used to employ. So these songs are more decidedly in my own voice and less obfuscated.”

Does that mean that the ether album series is dead?

“I wouldn’t say that.”

Follow this link to listen to Desire on your preferred service.

Announcing Desire

mrmoth will release their first album in 16 years, Desire at all digital venues on October 25th, 2019.

The track listing is as follows:

Protected
The End of the Road
Gone Down
Call on Your Stars
Autonomy
Metropolitan
Shark Eyes
And Now the Reckoning
Desire

The album is a departure from the rest of the mrmoth catalog as it is meant to be a more focused collection of synth pop songs. While synth pop implies a relationship to the classic synth pop of the 80s currently enjoying another renaissance among many contemporary electronic acts, in this case it isn’t meant to imply that this album is to be nostalgia-driven nor will it feature a particularly retro sound.

Core member of mrmoth, Michael Bird explains, “I appreciate the more concise, song-driven nature of that era, and its proud focus on technology in music as aesthetic mission. I wanted this album to be nimble and lean, while still focusing on the assets of this particular band’s sound. The emphasis on this record is less on guitar though, and more on piano and keys.”

Additional details, including lyrics and a song-by-song break down will be available on mrmoth.com on October 25th.

Previously available singles from this album have been remastered for this release and new masters for the singles will be sent to distributors before the 25th. Updates per availability will be posted to mrmoth.com and associated social media once available.