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Band Crush: Muy Cansado

September 10, 2010
(l-r: Chris Mulvey, Lisa Libera, and Jon Ulman)

For a three-piece guitar, bass and drum outfit, Muy Cansado pretty much have the biggest sound one could ask for. Singer/guitarist Chris Mulvey belts his often heavy-hearted lyrics, teetering on the edge of a scream, while chugging along with a ’90s rock ‘n’ roll guitar style. Bassist Lisa Libera complements the music with her in-the-pocket performance and spot-on vocal harmonies. Jon Ulman on the drums adds the tight backbone, completing the sound all while making the straight-ahead rock vibe easily danceable. Their imminent release Love and Fear is, simply put, a solid effort.   

BBC: Muy Cansado is Spanish for ‘very tired’. What made you decide to name your band as such?
Chris:  We came up with the name from some really weird art on the wall of our first rehearsal space.  Lisa and Dave – our original drummer – purposely didn’t paint over it when they painted the room, because they thought it was cool. When we started tossing around names, it was all we agreed on and the more we mentioned it the more we liked it. There is an allusion to the picture on our website, but it’s not the actual picture.
Lisa: I think we all originally liked the juxtaposition of playing high-energy up-tempo rock music and calling ourselves something that means ‘very tired’. People usually chuckle when I tell them what the name means. The minimalist art that we took it from really captured a complex emotion and story with only two words and two stick figures. Perhaps one could say we do the same musically.

BBC: Your new E.P. Love and Fear drops Saturday with some touring to follow. What do you think the rest of this year has in store for you?
Chris:  It’s been a fun year. We are excited to release Love and Fear, to be working with the guys from Goodnight Records who have been great, to hit the road again and to be playing CMJ. Beyond all that, we have already recorded and mixed another new song, which didn’t make it onto the EP. It is called “Acquaintances” and is a major departure from our usual sound. “Acquaintances” will be debuted on Boston Emissions this Sunday night when we are in studio. We have not decided how we are going to release it, possibly as a single or on another EP. We will also probably start recording a full-length album sometime in the next six months. We have a lot of new material. We will be playing one or two new songs Saturday. We have been breaking out new material every show this year, which has been fun. We have also been talking to some pretty great musicians about collaborating. 

BBC: How do you feel you have evolved as a band since your debut release Stars and Garters?
Chris:  Well the first way we have evolved is obvious – we have a new drummer, Jon Ulman. Dave and Jon [the band’s previous drummers] are such distinct personalities that the sound was bound to change when Jon joined the band. Jon has been a great addition. He has definitely made the band a lot dancier and we have been focused a lot more on melody. We feel that even on this EP, which is like a bridge to a lot of the newer material, there is a shift in the sound.
Lisa: I would agree with what Chris said about a shift in our sound with regards to more of a melodic focus. I also think that each of the new songs we’re working on have more distinct personalities (while still sounding like Muy Cansado), whereas the songs on Stars & Garters seemed to have more commonalities. I would counter and say that Jon has not made us dancier, but that he plays different dancy beats than Dave did. We’re a band that is very collaborative, so naturally, having a new member has changed our sound with the newer songs.   

BBC: The male/female vocal work has categorized your sound as reminiscent of The Pixies, which admittedly was one of my first points of comparison upon first listen. When crafting your songs, melodies, and harmonies, who do you in fact consider an influence?
Chris:  The songs on this EP were written a long time ago and I have been famously under The Pixies’ spell. I think these songs still carry some of that weight, but when we shaped them as a band the focus was making it sound the best we could, not on an influence. I am not so sure our newer songs carry as much of a Pixies influence, but that is not for me to decide. In terms of other influences – artists I love are Talking Heads, Radiohead, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Animal Collective, The Arcade Fire, The Press and The Teeth.
Lisa: To echo Chris, we don’t write songs thinking about influences, but I’m sure they come out in the songwriting process. I listen to all of the artists on Chris’s list regularly plus David Bowie (Low), Eryka Badu (New Amerykah, Part 1), Goldfrapp (Felt Mountain), DJ Shadow (Endtroducing), and Unwound (Leaves Turn Inside You) most recently.

BBC: For a three-piece band, you convey a big, musically complete sound with some pretty heavy lyrical content. What do you feel you are trying to convey through your music?
Chris:  We always want our music to sound good before anything else. If music doesn’t make your ears happy, what’s the point? So the three of us have to be happy with how the songs sound first and foremost. I think since we are a three-piece, we try to compensate for our lack of size, whether consciously or subconsciously, by creating big sounds. With lyrics I try to make them interesting. “Love and Fear” is a broken hearted love song, but it is right in the middle of a moment of pure desperation, which is what I wanted to catch. I try to capture feelings with a lot of songs. Usually it’s personal, but I hope people can relate.

BBC: What Boston bands are you currently crushing on?
Chris:  I just heard the new Diamond Mines album this weekend and am really excited for those guys to put that out. They have always been a personal favorite. I have serious crush on the new songs I have heard from Aloud and I am really excited for their new album. An unfortunate crush is on The Sun Lee Sunbeam, who will play their final show Friday, September 17 and release their final EP. It’s sad to lose them. I haven’t heard the it yet, but The Lights Out have a new EP coming out the night of our EP release. I am hoping to get a chance to crush on that, but have not gotten a copy yet. This is my official request. I have a crush on the big voice of little Leesa Coyne in Naked On Rollerskates. I recently saw The Unfamiliars as well as Ad Frank and the Fast Easy Women, who were both great. And lastly I have a crush on the new Kingsley Flood album, but who doesn’t?
Lisa: I agree with everything Chris just said. Also I have a big crush on The Woodrow Wilsons, who will be playing their last show for a while on 9/12.


Listen to / Download “Love and Fear” by Muy Cansado:   Muy Cansado – Love and Fear /// DOWNLOAD HERE!

Then sing along at their EP Release tomorrow night (Saturday, 9/11) at the Middle East upstairs w/ The Lights Out (also releasing an EP), Sidewalk Driver, and The Press:

One Comment
  1. what a lead vocal track!

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