(Photo Credit - Alexandra Thomas)
We got an opportunity to catch up with alternative superstars Matthew Brue and David Butler of MISSIO in anticipation of their new LP 'Can You Feel the Sun'. Check out this excerpt from our conversation:
Michael: First off, I got a chance to listen to 'Can You Feel the Sun' over the past couple of days and have absolutely been loving it. Lyrically and musically, it represents continued evolution for you as artists. I'd love to hear about the background of how this album came to be.
Matthew: "Last year was one of the best but most difficult years in a sense. Best because we were able to travel the world and meet amazing people, see all these amazing places. You're seeing buildings that are thousands of years old. We came back so inspired to write, and started writing demos."
"It's been difficult too because we've both been looking into what it is we believe. When you dissect some of the things you've carried your whole life it's tough. Between the two it created a duality of sorts. In 21 days we ended up writing this full record. We'd come in with a lyric or a melody that would be almost identical to something someone else like our producer was thinking."
David: ""Can You Feel the Sun" and "Don't Forget to Open Your Eyes" have highlighted how we've spent the last year. Like taking in a sunset, or a hike, things that are more human than things that are normal in our culture. We're excited to get this message and these songs out. It's a good thing to talk about depression and anxiety, but we also don't want to leave it there, we take it further and connect it to something."
Michael: You all have a very unique and positive relationship with your fans. Can you speak a little bit about your relationship with the MISSIO Mafia and how it's helped propel your music?
Matthew: "We can't take credit for that. We lucked into having such an amazing loyal fan base. When we dropped Loner and started being vulnerable about addiction, we reached a crowd we didn't know existed, people like ourselves that are kind of loners and who may be struggling and feeling unseen sometimes. We would notice that the fans would develop these help groups where they'd chat and support one another from around 6:00am to 2:00am. They've been impacted by the songs so much that they've been compelled to take action. We see them take in the music and want to take action. We're so humbled. Even in regards to Alt Nation to see how every time we drop a song on Alt Nation they're out they're out their voting all fucking day. It's insane, we're so lucky to have them."
David: "It's so shocking because especially early on, there's this sensitive and encouraging feeling that goes on between one another. A community is the best way you can describe it. An example of something that makes me super proud of what MISSIO is that there are times when we go into a club and the people who work there who see acts and different crowds every day. It happens so often that people will come up to us and say "there was something just different in the room tonight". There's such a wide range of people there, somehow it's a gang of misfits that just works."
Michael: You're fresh off your 2019 release of the acclaimed 'The Darker the Weather//The Better The Man', can you talk a little bit about what fans can expect from 'Can You Feel the Sun' in comparison to your previous releases?
David: "To speak about releasing music, something that is super important to us is remembering who we are and why we do what we do. We genuinely love getting in the studio and creating something that new that moves us. What fans can expect is for Matthew and I to continue to write and create a soundtrack for life. In terms of what's new on this record, it will be described as matured a little bit. There's some things in the lyrics and undertones that go a lot more philosophical. We're encouraging people to take whatever it is that you believe and question it. We've done this with our own spiritual background and religious background. We want to bring people to these things in so they can question it."
Matthew: "It's a dangerous spot for artists to lock themselves into one genre and say "this is who we are". There are so many different emotions people can feel. We are multi-genre in that we look at our feelings in each specific instance when we write. On each record you get a touch of all kinds of feelings that can help get people through their day. It's almost like a diary of sorts. That's the beauty of art to be able to have a blank canvas and write something different every time."
Michael: You've had some all-star collaborations in the past on your music and you continue that tradition on 'Can You Feel the Sun' with collaborations with Esoteric of Czarface and are rejoined by Paul Wall. How have those collaborations come to be and what do you feel it adds to your sound?
David: "Basically, to approach it from the angle of hip-hop, that's something Matthew and I grew up on. It's something that is core to the band. We're constantly on the lookout for different MC's to work with. With Paul, we met him through our producer and we actually we grew up as fans. When he did "Temple Priest" what was cool was his ability to connect lyrically with what we do. It's really about finding the right person that can add to that vibe. We loved what he did on "Temple Priest" so much that we brought him back for this record and then he brought it to another level. I have so much respect for him as an artist but also for what he does in his community of Houston."
Matthew: "To be frank most hip-hop today fucking sucks, I think it's a bunch of bullshit. So that's why we love bringing in these old school dudes who can rap. I'm talking even from a tempo perspective, like they know how to rap to a click track which most people don't know how to do anymore. Esoteric (Czarface) who is featured on the album kinda sounds like Jay-Z on the album, but he's still talking about really cool, awesome, relevant shit. I just think our fans are really going to dig what both of them do because their just pros."
Michael: How has being a professional musician changed since the time of the COVID-19 pandemic? How are you engaging your fans in this new environment?
David: "I'll start with a really insane story. We were on tour in Europe when this all went down, we were crossing into Czech Republic and we were stopped at the border by guys with HAZMAT suits on, pointing temperature guns at our heads. That was the last show we played before we had to cancel the rest of the tour. It was a huge bummer and after that it's been very different."
"Also, we still had this record and we had to decide if we wanted to still release our record. There's a lot of people that don't think right now is a good time to release music business-wise. But Matthew and I decided to say "fuck it" and go with our gut and let the music go where it's supposed to go. There's also a little bit of a relevancy deadline to stuff you have. It's about the flow of consciousness out of the artist and I believe that's what the fans are listening to now."
Matthew: "Before everything we posted I wanted to be super perfect and polished. But it's been interesting to see that artists have been able to release really open content. The new environment has pushed us outside our normal boundaries, and I feel a lot more comfortable doing more open content like playing an acoustic set on a video, etc."
Michael: What's next on the horizon for MISSIO?
David: "We just announced we are dropping the record October 23rd. We'll have a few surprises in between there. We've made it part of our release plan to try to create more of a conversation and hoping that people will tune in and follow along."
Matthew: "I wish we could say we had a bad ass tour planned. We talked to our agent and they said we have to get through the elections. I'm about 90% sure we'll be able to get back out on the road. I'm hoping so."