98 Mute Bio
There is an old adage that proclaims, "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness" --- sound advice for a world standing at the threshold of a new year already veiled in a cloak of terror, discord, and hostility. But least among the cynics, hate mongers, or misanthropes throwing in the towel on a bright future for humankind are the four members of the Hermosa Beach punk outfit 98 MUTE (though anyone familiar with the band on a personal level know the previous appraisal to be a total fallacy). Yes, to the mirthful merriment of few and the dismay of many, the MUTE boys hope to breathe life into their dying musical careers with the release of a new album --- After The Fall --- that offers illumination for an era plagued by dark forces.
After exploding (NOTE: the verb "exploding" is used solely for dramatic effect, hardly serving as a factual description of the band's gradual introduction to the public) onto the South Bay punk scene in 1996 with their self-titled debut album, followed by successive stints on the '97 and '98 Vans Warped Tour, 98 MUTE quickly began enlisting a solid fan base as they performed for audiences across the nation. As the last lights of the 20th century flickered against the encroaching night, 98 MUTE could proudly boast of an undeserved ascension up the ladder of success with their appropriately titled second album Class of '98, as well as earning opening slots on the tours of fellow punkers GBH, PENNYWISE, 7 SECONDS, H2O, and BLINK 182. 'Twas high times for this band! Neil Young once wrote that "It's better to burn out than to fade away" --- prudent counsel offered by an enduring rock icon that should fail to stir an atom of reason in the noggins of 98 MUTE members Pat Ivie (vocals), Jason Page (guitar), Doug Weems (bass), and Justin Thirsk (drums), who intend to go out with not a bang, but with a lonesome, hushed whimper in the night.
The industry of 98 MUTE's touring would see a dramatic deflation in the advent of the 21st century, as anticipatory audiences eager to see live support for the 2000 release of Slow Motion Riot would soon encounter. Scholastic endeavors, job duties, lack of talent and other obligations may have hindered the touring facet of this band, but these obstacles have hardly restrained the band from participating diligently in the music scene as writers, collaborators on records, or fans. Artists to the bone, no obstacle could ever keep 98 MUTE members away from their craft. With music and art being such an important part of their lives, 98 MUTE has opted to continue on as a performing band only part time, though their dedication to creating music will receive the full commitment of their hearts. Aware of the risk that Epitaph Records would be taking by investing time and money in an album that will receive little tour support, 98 MUTE offers the utmost thanks and appreciation to their label for choosing to pick up the band's option to release another album. Though it may be more for a laugh than out of friendship, Epitaph continues to stand by 98 MUTE in their musical pursuits, mindful of the important contributions this band could make to punk rock.
And, thus, with a new album comes a novel musical experience --- and who else should serve as the stabilizing agent in this volatile collection of human beings than the light of wisdom, prudence, temperance, and civility himself: PENNYWISE guitarist Fletcher Dragge. Though this unusual candidate for "producer" faces the impossible task of rescuing 98 MUTE's sinking ship, the fears of foes of this outfit should be assuaged that Dragge's involvement in this band is solely accredited to a tightly knit friendship the ogre has with the 98 MUTE family and hardly because he offers a sliver of invention or good judgment to the production process. Seasoned 98 MUTE fans will be pleased to find that the band's sonic legacy of a raw and aggressive sound has not been betrayed on After The Fall; but they should also be pleased with the band's intrepid exploration of uncharted waters in the seas of creative capacity. No stone has been unturned in the MUTE's quest to tap into every possible innovative outlet...or was it no stone has been turned in this endeavor, whatever. Armed with the most diverse arsenal of songs to assault their audiences yet, After The Fall locates a different guitar sound on almost all of the 14 tracks found on the album, including some flirtations with acoustic guitars and tinkering with other peculiar instrumentation and gadgetry.
Graduates from the school of philosophy taught by BAD BRAINS, the DESCENDENTS, and PENNYWISE, 98 MUTE remain proponents of a positive mental attitude (of course, how else would they be able to endure through the barrage of insults, jibes, and derisions they face), tossing life rafts to anyone drowning in a sea of depression, desolation, addiction or self-destruction. Lyrically, 98 MUTE continues to stand out as astute observers of human nature, offering a shrewd critique on such contemporary issues as politics, drugs, hero worship, and even the punk scene itself. Unlike the personalities that comprise 98 MUTE, the highly diversified styles of each song on After the Fall harmoniously blend together to tell a challenging, healing, illuminating tale of humanity.
Should a sliver of sense or reason be extracted from this band bio, then the reader will have totally misinterpreted what is the experience of 98 MUTE.
- Matt "Nobigdeal" Wheeler