Story by Allie Volpe
Nick Morrison thinks back on his band’s recent album like a young adult reminisces on their high school years: it’s a little cringeworthy. Where some would question their hair and fashion choices of their teenage selves, Morrison reflects on his emotions. What was I feeling then? Why was I feeling that?
The collection in question, Mumblr's The Never Ending Get Down, released this June, is the manifestation not of adolescence and puberty, but a recent stretch of months in Morrison’s life where things could have been better, his thoughts brighter. To revisit album’s ten tracks is to open up the metaphorical yearbook.
“It was a very specific point in my life and it wasn’t a high point in my life,” Morrison says. “Now I’m out of that depression and I’m looking at it and I’m like, ‘Wow, I was taking myself very seriously!’ But I don’t regret it.”
“I’m old and I know the power of God / Like a rat in the water,” he sings on opener “Mudmouth,” a unsuspectingly potent track that builds from hushed tones and sludgy drumming to frantic vocals and impassioned guitarwork. A whisper on “I pick up my father when he drinks the brown water” during “Microwave,” a lumbering punk song inspired by the microwaved pizza Morrison would feed himself before kindergarten, the time he’d spend alone in between his parents’ alternating day and night shifts.
The Never Ending Get Down is the churning feeling in your gut on a bad day, the rain cloud that trails behind the forlorn. Steadily moving and dynamically textured, the LP explores the band’s strengths in math rock and the space in between the lyrics.
“Stoner rock songs have to be at least six minutes long,” Morrison jokes, “so I think we were trying to not be afraid to that anymore.”
What about “Mudmouth” and “Domingo” make for compelling performances?
When we released our album, we put those as the top and the tail -- the first song and the last song. Those two are the epitome of the sounds that we’re trying to go for. They're a little moody, a little heavy, anti-catchy. Those two mesh really well together.
Is it fun playing such a long song like “Domingo”?
With this album, we were trying to not be afraid to take our time and let the songs breathe a little bit, even if it teetered on being boring.
How do you combat losing people’s attention and keeping it interesting?
That’s definitely something that we struggle with, making a song that is too short or making a song that’s really long and kind of boring. If you’re going to have a long song, it has to be really interesting vocally and have a lot to say or else people are going to be totally lost. If you’re not saying anything, it ends up being really boring.
Some of your earlier stuff is pretty short and this album has 4- and 5-minute songs. There's a lot more going on.
We tried to push ourselves as players instead of just doing power chords and listening to Green Day and Weezer. We were trying to branch out a little bit in terms of listening to Cursive and MewithoutYou and not [specifically] emo bands, but bands that tend to be a little bit more emotional, especially vocally emotional.
There’s a lot to be said about those influences.
Definitely. I think the music that you listen to, it can really epitomize the thing you’re going through or a certain mood that you’re feeling over a couple of months. I got stuck in this four months of “Oh, I just want to listen to this sad, epic stuff.” Once you start writing stuff like that, that reflects the things you’re listening to, especially when it's very emotive and very personal. Tou tend to look back on it and cringe a little bit. But I think it’s a good thing.
Right, because if people didn’t have emotions, there probably wouldn’t be music.
Absolutely! It’s the same way that you go through high school and five years later you’re like “I cannot believe I used to act like that!” Or whatever it is that you did, how you acted, how you treated other people or allowed other people to treat you. All those certain emotions during those times, whether you’re making music or art or just existing, it definitely is another grain of sand in your bucket of sand. [Laughs]
So The Never Ending Get Down may make you cringe, but now it lives out there on the internet forever.
I think that’s important. Not only the audience, but you yourself are going to take different things away from it, good or bad. If I had never written these songs, I never would have realized the positive things I would’ve learned.
I like the point of influence on “Microwave”: your childhood and your parents’ work schedules. How much do you think a person’s upbringing and surroundings affect them as adults?
I think there are some things that you’re absolutely born with, but I think that the way that your environment plays a role in that slate you’re given can make or break you in thousands of ways. But it’s all about your perspective. If you come from a really bad childhood and use that as motivation to better yourself, or you [could] come from a really good childhood and can totally flounder. It really is that natural -- what you’re born with -- thing that helps you traverse the environment and come out of it in whichever way you decide.
That being said, do you think you’ve always been a naturally observant person able to turn experiences into narratives in a song?
I think anybody who’s trying to get something out with art, a lot of people, including myself, tend to be wrapped up in their own head. I get stuck in my own head a lot and you overthink things a lot. That’s why music has really helped me to get that thing out.
And it’s a universal feeling, too. It can help you and somebody else who’s never experienced the same things as you.
That’s where intention and interpretation are two totally different things. You can extract any information or any sort of emotions from someone who didn’t even think about creating this thing that you relate to. There’s millions of different ways to interpret anything, with music especially. As far as human beings go, music is something we got right.
It’s interesting that you mentioned being so inspired by Cursive. That band tends to evoke those sort of emotions.
I love Cursive so, so much. Tim [Kasher] is one of the ten people I hope to meet. His music is incredibly emotive in playing, in technique, in the way that they mesh, their sound and their playing.
We could turn this into a Cursive interview. You could write a thinkpiece about it and put it on Tumblr.
Mumblr’s Tumblr! Totally. We may have a Tumblr, I have no idea.
You do. I went to Google “Mumblr” earlier and typed in “Tumblr” by accident. Have you ever done that?
Never. When we first started playing, I would type our name in, but I stopped doing that. Maybe if we have a tipping point where we get more popular, I’ll start doing it again. I know we have a Twitter, I do tweet from time to time. I got rid of all social media for personal stuff about two years ago. Once I started seeing the ads that are personalized, I needed to get off of Facebook and Twitter.