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STREAM: “(I’m Tired of) Western Shouting” –
 / Ghetto Blaster

The debut album from MIEN (pronounced “Mean”) will be released on Friday April 6th, 2018. MIEN is comprised of The Black Angel’s Alex Maas, The Horror’s Tom Furse, Elephant Stone’s Rishi Dhir and The Earlies’ John-Mark Lapham. Today the band shares the third single from the album, “(I’m Tired of) Western Shouting.”  Also check out a new interview with CLASH where the band discusses their influences.

Sometimes the best projects come into existence without anyone involved being
quite sure why or how, and so it is with MIEN. John Mark Lapham of Anglo-Texan
acid folk legends the Earlies, Montreal-based sitar virtuoso Rishi Dhir of Elephant
Stone, singer Alex Maas of Austin, Texas’s lords of reverberation the Black Angels
and keyboard player Tom Furse of London’s consistently inventive The Horrors
might seem like a psychedelic dream team, but they never mapped out this trawl
through the inner wardrobes of their collective mind. In fact MIEN, whose debut
album finds the uncharted hinterland between industrial dread, new age
ambience and cosmic expansion, was almost entirely accidental.

“It was very random and unpredictable,” says John Mark Lapham, of MIEN’s
beginnings. “Rishi had contributed sitar to the Earlies’ second album, and I was
living in Rochester, New York in 2012 when I saw that he was playing with the Black
Angels in Buffalo, which is down the road. I went to go see them, and the whole
idea of us working together with Alex started floating around. The Black Angels had
crossed paths with the Horrors, so Tom was the last piece of the puzzle. It was
initially just a case of exchanging ideas. We loved the music, but we never wanted
to form a supergroup. We just wanted a fun experience. We didn’t even know we
were a band until we got the record deal with Rocket.”

“I seem to remember DJing at an Elephant Stone show in London,” says Tom Furse
on his own involvement. “Rishi and I hadn’t seen each other in a while. He started
talking about this idea for a band with Alex and I jumped at the chance. I love
collaboration, I knew Rishi and Alex were really good at what they do, and that’s
exactly what you want out of your collaborators. I had no idea what it might sound
like, but JM took the lead there. He’d developed this aesthetic that was psychedelic
without falling on any old tropes and that resonated with me massively… His shit
just sounded cool.”

Beyond Rishi using the darkness and drama of Scott Walker’s later albums was a
reference point, nobody actually knew what kind of a band this would be — or
indeed if it would be a band at all. Tom describes responding to what he was
hearing by “sometimes just adding a little sound, at other times putting on
something completely bonkers.” With the four members spread across the globe
there was no agenda and none of the baggage that inevitably comes with playing
music with people over time, meaning the ideas could flow freely without fear of
suppression. It helps explain the unique quality of sound and vision, with Alex
Maas’s lyrics combining mystery and realism as they veer from playfulness — the
nonsense poetry of Odyssey’s “tchi-tchi boy” — to reflections on political upheaval,
such as “(I’m Tired Of) Western Shouting.”

It was only when the ominous “Black Habit” emerged that everyone realized they
were on a shared journey.

“That was the weird part,” says Rishi. “Nothing was talked about. We have our own
projects and our own egos but with this, if someone felt that a song wasn’t working,
we were generally all fine with it. Everything was unspoken.”

“We would each add something singular before it went through the filter that is
MIEN,” says John Mark. “It passes through all of us and ends up sounding like a
cohesive album. The litmus test was: Are we in that MIEN world?”

“Apart from the sitar, it was difficult to know who played what because the tracks
would go back and forth and it ended up being the product of the same mind,” adds
Alex. “If it met the criteria of whatever MIEN is, we all knew it.”

What, then, is MIEN? Unsurprisingly those involved find it hard to describe, so let
me help: MIEN sounds like it has emerged from the primordial swamp. Psychedelic
music typically has associations with the late 60s and early 70s, but this is timeless.
An industrial slant gives modernist heaviness, but the sitars and sweet melodies
bring an ancient quality. This is searching music, made by people who aren’t quite
sure what they are looking for but will keep on searching until they have found it.

“Earth Moon” and “Ropes” have a dreamy quality,” says Rishi, citing the two songs
from the album on which his gliding, bending, stretching sitar notes feature most
heavily. “They have darkness, but also a lost-in- the-clouds vibe. Throughout the
album the mood is constantly shifting between those two poles.”

Alex recorded his part for “Black Habit” while on a losing spree in Las Vegas, where
he and a friend were busy turning themselves into paupers at the Poker World
Series. “On the second day there I had lost all the money I was prepared to lose so
I went to my hotel room, lay on the bed, and recorded the vocal melody on the
microphone on my laptop. It was about doing whatever it took for the song.”

Alex intended “Earth Moon” as a warning against people who think they are right no
matter what. “A lot of the world’s problems are caused by people who are 100%
sure they are correct. It leads to fundamentalism. One person believes one thing,
another believes the opposite and when it comes down to it, it doesn’t fucking

“(I’m Tired Of) Western Shouting” is self-explanatory. “But I’m really talking about
American shouting. American politicians have been so loud for so long, but things
are changing so the song could be seen as optimistic.” As for “Odyssey,” you might
end up wondering who the “tchi tchi boy” of the chorus is.

“Odyssey started out as an instrumental by Tom,” says John Mark. “I had heard a
song [“Tchi Tchi Vox”] by an 80s band called Vox Populi and I tried sampling the
chorus, which is in Dutch. It didn’t work, but Vox Populi ended up re-recording the
vocals for us. The tchi-tchi boy can be whatever you wanted it to be, especially
since it is in another language. It is like a musical Rorschach test. Could be she-she
boy, chi-chi boy…”

Now MIEN is a band, with the first concert at Austin’s Levitation festival in April and
more potential gigs in the pipeline. “I’m enjoying not second-guessing the course of
this ship,” says John Mark. “Up to this point we have gotten on and seen where it
took us. I’m excited to see what happens next.”

“We’re all in different bands,” says Alex. “I’ve got a baby on the way, and we have
our own lives. But we’re good at getting shit done, and I’ve been digging how this
record has been transforming live.”

“Until we spent a weekend in Austin together, we had never all been in the same
room,” concludes Rishi, on the project that John Mark inadvertently set in motion by
going along to that Black Angels gig in Buffalo, New York back in 2012. “Now we
are taking this thing that was created in our bedrooms and turning into a real thing.
The pressure is on, but it’s cool. This could go anywhere.”

MIEN is out on Rocket Recordings on April 6


04/28 Austin, TX – Levitation Festival / Stubb’s *

* = w/ Slowdive & S U R V I V E

(Rocket Recordings)
Street Date: April 6, 2018

Pre-Order here

Track List:

1. Earth Moon
2. Black Habit
3. (I’m Tired of) Western Shouting
4. You Dreamt
5. Other
6. Hocus Pocus
7. Ropes
8. Echolalia
9. Odessey
10. Earth Moon (Reprise)

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