“Life’s too short to play it safe,” declare The Mutineers in unison on the song “Ace.” Frontman and songwriter Brian Mathusek is not waiting around for things to get better. “Let’s hit the road before it gets too late.” Over the years, the singer and guitarist has roamed from East to West and many places in-between. Along the way, he has gathered stories of hope and fear, love and loss. Songs like “California” recall his experience struggling to make ends meet in a new town. In other early tunes, like “End of the World,” he questions faith: “I want to know whose religion wins, and what counts as sin.” Throughout Mathusek’s writing there has always been an openness and honesty that comes straight from the heart.
Along with lifelong friend Michael Astudillo on acoustic guitar and not-yet wife Merry Young on drums, Mathusek and his fellow Mutineers created their own blend of twangy rock. The trio’s first EP, Tidal Wave (2008), was well received in their home base of Santa Barbara with radio play on a few stations in California and Oregon. It wasn’t long before they began to share stages with such artists as Langhorne Slim, The Devil Makes Three, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band and The Tallest Man on Earth. Their second EP, Nihilisteria (2009), soon followed, revealing a more dynamic, slightly heavier sound, reminiscent of bands like X, The B-52s, The Pogues, and The Velvet Underground. In 2011, Terry Luna joined the band on stand-up bass and they headed back to the recording studio. From the Dirge to the Dance, their most recent work, includes 8 songs ranging from anthemic sing-alongs to crooning ballads. While some songs have a healthy dose of cynicism, some are also passionate outcries of hope and determination. There is a sense of nostalgia and a longing for permanence amidst the uncertainty of life’s peaks and pitfalls. And of course, it couldn’t be The Mutineers without a strong spirit of rebellion against the powers-that-be.
In the years that followed, the band built a loyal following locally and expanded their tour route to include stops in Las Vegas, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and a short string of shows in New York and New Jersey. They played to bigger crowds and most memorably shared stages with The White Buffalo, Murder By Death and Larry and His Flask. In 2013, the band returned to its roots again with the original three-piece lineup and continued playing in Southern California, touring up the West Coast to Portland, Oregon and working on new songs. Brian and Merry got married after a 15-year courtship and Michael became a bar owner, opening Seven Bar & Kitchen in Santa Barbara. In October of 2014, however, The Mutineers suffered a serious blow with the tragic loss of founding member, best friend and guitarist Michael. “It’s been difficult to pick up the pieces. It is very hard to hear some of our songs without Michael’s presence, not to mention the enormous vacancy left by his larger-than-life personality and boundless optimism,” said Mathusek.
Now performing as a duo, Brian and Merry returned to Merry’s home state of Oregon and currently reside in Southeast Portland where they will continue to play shows and run their graphic design and screen printing business, Mutiny Studios. The songs will sound different, to be sure–but they haven’t lost their soul.
“Their country/folk/Americana/punk sound — a mix of scrappy, stein-swinging anthems peppered with a few ambient, slow tracks — is grounded by the band’s constant energy, string talent, melodic harmonies, and strong rhythm section. By way of visceral folky lyrics, the Mutes offer happy music about hard times and the people living through them; these characters, like those in Springsteen’s and countless other folk songs, represent those groups oft overlooked in today’s media landscape and viral marketplace.” —Santa Barbara Independent
“The Mutineers blend a variety of music styles into their own brand of rock and roll which transcends pretty much every label you can hurl at it.” —SWAP ZINE
“Their live show delivers a potent and buoyant mix of Americana, folk, and good ole-fashioned bar rock…the soundtrack to the best bar crawl of your life.” —Santa Barbara Independent