October 3, 2012

A Serious Band

Muuy Biien Will Not Be Stopped

Muuy Biien. We think.

"I've never been thrown out of a place before last night," says Josh Evans. "It was satisfying. It was great."

The Nirvana-shirted Muuy Biien frontman sits, smoking, marveling at the hazy memory of being tossed from a certain infamous Athens college bar the evening before. The reason isn't wholly important, though it did involve, he explains, a somewhat graphic male-on-male PDA performance.

Evans only recently turned 21—a few months ago, he wouldn't have even been able to gain access to said bar—and he is fueled by a sort of restless energy that at once reveals his age and defies it. He is sharp, confident, aware of his physical and cultural surroundings.

He's also, it turns out, a pretty friendly guy.

"People think I'm this dark, angry person," he says, "but I'm not."

Muuy Biien rose to local prominence earlier this year via the Birdhouse Collection, a group of bands—including Pretty Bird, k i d s and OOO—that shared members and studio time and forwent typical public relations in favor of more aggressive methods (like chalk-bombing the sidewalk outside the Flagpole office). Their bond was a tongue-in-cheek brand of self-realization, a punk affectation that was convincing in spite of itself.

After OOO (pronounced "Three Circles") broke up, Evans found himself unfulfilled.

"I was getting really frustrated, and sort of just like, not satisfied with the way things were going. And so I started recording these songs in my bedroom."

The result, Knife Fights (which sees vinyl release at Muuy Biien's show this Friday), was a damn Tascam miracle, a terse collection of ferocious lo-fi hardcore and one unexpected song—the decaying instrumental "Rotter"—that, at 3:41, was as long as the others combined. It was a curious thing: a scrappy punk rock EP that closed with a hypnotic, experimental guitar tune.

The dichotomy was deepened with the arrival of the full-length This Is What Your Mind Imagines, wherein Evans interlaced spurts of aggressive and uncompromising hardcore courtesy of his newly assembled band—bassist Xander Witt, guitarists Robbie Rapp and Tobiah Black and drummer Jacob Lake—with the "Emesis" series, a shockingly cogent three-part ambient movement. The effect was two-pronged: Not only did it work to offset the chaos, but also to allow said chaos to seep into the listener's mind.

"I look at it as, you hear these songs, and then the ambient songs are sort of something to give you time to think about what you just took in. It's like a checkpoint," Evans says.

Whatever the hell Muuy Biien is doing, it seems to be working. That Evans, with his angular physique and cloudy countenance, reveals himself in conversation as a thoughtful, lighthearted guy is perhaps less surprising than how his music has been received of late. Crowds grow exponentially each show; Evans expresses surprise that, not only do guys dig the band's aggressive tunes, but girls do, too.

It's funny to think of a hardcore band having universal appeal. But there is something in the way Muuy Biien balances the aggro with the introspective that seems to speak to a wide swath. Evans compares the way the band operates to Bad Brains, which used the blunt impact of its music to further a deeper message.

"It is a pretty radical time right now, with politics, and religious shit, and women's rights," Evans says. "All that stuff is just kind of present now. So, people are just pissed off, naturally, which is really cool."

But if it's volume and speed that draws the audience in, it's honesty that compels them to stay. Many of Evans' songs are bona fide confessionals, tales of a troubled childhood, lamentations of opportunities missed.

"The only thing I'm good at writing about is, I guess, me," he says.

Evans admits that he dreams of his band achieving a certain level of musical stardom—one, he suggests, perhaps unavailable here in Athens. ("That's not a bad thing, as an artist, if you want to be heard, [if] you want people to like your stuff.") Likewise, he rejects the notion that his band only exists in the moment, insisting that Muuy Biien is a "serious band."

Given its work ethic, it's hard to argue otherwise. Not yet half a year old in its current incarnation, the group is working on its second album, D.Y.I. (or "Do Yourself In," a nihilistic play on a barren mantra), which will reportedly showcase a dramatic shift in tone: Evans cites goth-rock purveyors Bauhaus and Christian Death as inspirations, and says the record will even incorporate dance rhythms.

As strange as that may sound, let's remember that Muuy Biien has already made its mark by combining disparate styles and ideas into one powerful sound. Perhaps the group's ultimate appeal lies here, in its unapologetic belief in whatever it happens to be doing at the time.

This punk rock attitude, Evans assures, will always be a part of Muuy Biien, even if it's eventually only that—an attitude. As he yelps on the Mind's penultimate track: "Forward motion/ Will not be stopped."

That is, every band has to grow up sometime. "After a while, the baby is no longer cute," Evans says. "You have to do something else."