Thanks to Absolute Punk’s Free Music Fridays feature (the most recent one can be found here) I came across a band based out of Massachusetts known as Settler. This 4-piece has recently put up all of their releases, including the 5-song EP War Wolves, online for free here. Settler’s exciting sound has been earning them some buzz and have lead to some highly energetic shows which should not be missed. The self described “funrock” group took some time out to do an interview with me and here’s what Jimmy Mullen, their drummer, had to say:
Mind Equals Blown: Ok to start it off, give a brief history of the band.
Jimmy Mullen of Settler: A couple years ago Curtis, Matt and I (Jimmy) were in a band together and when that band broke up, we really wanted to keep writing with each other. We all had the same desire and ideas for what we wanted so it just made sense. After a lot of time off, we started things off full force this past winter. Curtis’ brother Thomas joined us on guitar and we just instantly started writing and gelling well. It’s fun because we’re like a family band. Curtis and Thomas are brothers and Matt and I are cousins haha.
MEB: Why did you decide to be an instrumental group rather than having a singer?
JM: Moving away from the generic song structure allows us to have more fun and the lsitener to make the music what they want it plus its much more accessible. We actually talked about this the other day, but a vocalist and lyricists job is to paint a picture, and sometimes it’s very literal and to the point. I feel like with us and any other instrumental band, it leaves a lot open to interpretation and the listener can feel and think whatever they want about the song.
MEB: Your sound feels familiar yet still seems to defy genres, how would you best describe your music?
JM: We write music that narrates our personal lives. We thrive on being outdoors and just doing fun things in general and I really think that our music directly reflects our lifestyle. I don’t really know what type of genre to place us in, funrock would work if that exists. I think sometimes we tend to sound like a Mid-West emopunk band with no singer. So whatever you want to call it is fine.
MEB: All of your releases so far have been done DIY style. Have you been searching out any labels to try and expand with?
JM: Currently, no. We sent out a handful of presskits to labels initially, but we’re comfortable right now. We all absolutely love the DIY style and even though it’s financially draining some times, it’s a very proud moment when everything we’ve touched from start to finish is out there and it’s because we worked for it. All of the songs we’ve ever recorded were recorded by us and we’re protective of what we want to do, so staying DIY is a pretty natural feeling.
With that being said, we’d certainly be open to finding a home with a label that has the same mentality as us. If any of you labels are looking, we’re single and ready to mingle!
MEB: In a clear act of embracing the digital age, you’ve released your 3 EPs for free. Why did you decide to give them out rather than make them purchasable?
JM: As previously mentioned, we recorded every song ourselves. Earlier in the year we broke down and bought the best recording equipment we could afford on our budget (which wasn’t very much) and just decided that for the start of this, we were going to do it ourselves. Coupled with the fact that we essentially didn’t pay a lot to have these recorded, we also love having anyone and everyone hear our music. We pressed about 100 copies of War Wolves ourselves and have been giving those out at shows along with the digital downloads.
I genuinely think it’s helped us immensely because we’re making ourselves incredibly accessible to people, and that’s been our goal to start. Blurring the line between bands and fans is awesome because it’s so personal and fun. Plus, people can’t deny free stuff haha.
MEB: On the complete opposite side of the musical medium spectrum there are vinyl records which seem to be coming back into style. What’s your opinion on this?
JM: Our general consensus is nothing but love for vinyl. We all collect or own albums and are avid listeners. With that being said, I don’t think it’s for EVERY band even though a lot are jumping on the bandwagon. Almost all of the bands in the popular scenes today are recorded with digital enhancements, as in drum triggers, guitar sound editing, etc. When those bands put their albums out on vinyl for some bonus pre-order release thing, I don’t think it translates as well as a band who recorded their album naturally, with natural drum and guitar tones. There’s a certain tone and sound to records and that’s the appeal, to us at least. We’d love to put a release out on vinyl if it were done right. Hopefully in the future!
MEB: Any tour news?
JM: None yet. We’ve been trying to build buzz in our home state of Massachusetts, but our scene is geared more towards heavier bands so it’s been a battle. It’s definitely crossed our minds, and it’s on our radar for the very near future. We’ll be sure to let you know when it gets set up.
MEB: What are your musical (and non-musical) influences?
JM: Life is a big non-musical influence. That sounds sooooo lame but we really love just hanging out and doing what we think is fun. That absolutely reflects in our music and is a big influence. Musical influence is from every direction. Obviously, we’re big fans of other instrumental or experimental bands doing their thing like This Will Destroy you and Fang Island. Those two bands are big influences and inspirations.
MEB: Of course I have to ask, where does the name Settler come from?
JM: The honest and boring answer is that it’s the only name the 4 of us liked and felt fit our style.
The epic and not-entirely-truthful answer is that we, like settlers of this very country, are attempting to break ground and begin a new life in a territory foreign to us. The winters will be tough due to illness and lack of food or sustainable shelter, but we will persevere and be known throughout history as the SETTLERS that laid the groundwork for the genre known as funrock.
MEB: Ok, fun questions time. What’s your dream tour?
JM: Super Dreamland: Kiss, Blink 182, Lynyrd Skynyrd
Regular Dreamland: To tour with bands as laid back and fun as As Cities Burn and Fang Island to heavier bands like Every Time I Die
MEB: Any hobbies outside of music?
JM: Bridge jumping, bike riding, wiffle ball home run derby, ice hockey in shoes. Fun things haha.
MEB: If you could hang out with any person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
JM: Will Ferrell and Sean Connery. Two men that need to be in the same room together at the same time.
MEB: Thanks for talking with me and good luck in the future!
JM: Anytime! Thanks for asking us to do this!