Interview: Mindset Evolution
Thu, 25 Jul 2013 11:43:17
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"I'm spending my day in the sun on the Delmar Loop in St. Louis.," smiles Mindset Evolution singer Rob Ulrich. "It's in the heart of St. Louis, and it's beautiful out".
Ulrich's enthusiasm extends far beyond enjoying a summer day off in St. Louis. He and his band mates possess a potent and palpable passion for hard rock, and it's spark igniting the powder keg that is their Prospect Park debut, Brave, Bold, and Broken. Mindset Evolution siphon impressive and irresistible melodies through rapturous and raw riffage that hits as hard as a ten-ton hammer. In fact, they're one of the most exciting young contenders for the hard rock crown, and this debut is a must-have for all rock fans.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Rob Ulrich of Mindset Evolution talks Brave, Bold, and Broken and so much more.
What ties Brave, Bold, and Broken together for you?
For me, if we're speaking in terms of a thematic element, it'd be a story of discovering how far down the hole go, coming to terms with that, deciding what kind of person you want to be when you wake up the next day, and continuing that fight and battle. You're trying to find those little glimmers of hope and promise that exist when you pull your head off that pillow every morning. You're trying to escape the pitfalls of falling back into the same ruts. That's sort of what the whole album is about. That's why it's called Brave, Bold, and Broken. All of us are individually doing that. It's not blow-by-blow though. The songs aren't in a thematic order.
When did it become clear that was the element that tied it all together for you?
As a band, one of our mantras is that "happiness can only be found through strength, struggle, and perseverance". We talk about it all the time. When we write, it naturally comes from that place. It's definitely purposeful , composing in that fashion. Some of the songs on the album are very dark. There's desperation inside of them, talking about feeling broken. There's that. Then, there are finding ways to overcome that. You feel like you've overcome a certain battle, and there are triumphant songs on the album. When you look at our entire catalog of songs, we always write from that place. It's about falling down, brushing yourself off, picking yourself back up, and getting on the horse again.
What does "Burn it Down" mean to you?
It's written from more of an outside perspective, but it's sort of internal as well. Say you have a friend who's extremely ambitious, but they don't have much thought in their ambition. I call it blind ambition. They want everything, and they're intentions are fantastic. However, because they're not thinking things through, they're constantly setting landmines for themselves. Whenever they take a step backwards, they blow themselves out of the water. In the process, they harm or kill other potential opportunities. As much as you try to get through to those people, wake them up, and snap them out of it, a lot of them just don't listen. They want to simply take another step forward. Without looking, they just want to move. They don't listen because they're so excited to get burned. I think that comes from just watching the self-destructive nature of people around you when it comes to trying to get to that next step.
Where did "Hopeless" come from?
"Hopeless" comes from growing up in a smaller city. There's not a whole lot of opportunity. Most of your opportunity lies in factory labor and becoming a welder, a grease monkey, an assembler or something of that nature. It's very blue-collar. There's a lot of desperation in our city, but there's also a great spark in that city. I think "Hopeless" comes from the feeling of growing up in an environment where you feel like you don't have very many options. Everything looks like a dead end road. That's where that comes from. You have that feeling inside of you like there's more. There's something else out there. This is a microcosm of what they entire world is. How much more potential is there if you can get to the macro view? How can I get there?
"Ready" is like a goodbye song to somebody that no matter what you do you can't help them. They're beyond help. It's the eternally and perpetually depressed or the self-inflicted. They're the people who always set themselves up for failure. Nothing makes them happy. You do everything you can to help them find their happiness and be a light to them and at least be a support. However, you find everything you do has been pointless, and they're back out burning themselves down. That's where "Ready" comes from.
What else influences you outside of music?
I love to read. I love watching some movies. I think the last big inspiration was The Crow and after that it was The Matrix. Since then, I haven't had a movie that got inside of me. For me, I'm a people watcher. I like to meet new people. There was a line in a movie that everybody has a story and they want to tell it. I like learning others' stories and struggles. That can be inspirational to me. A lot of songs I've written are about people who have no idea the songs are written about them [Laughs]. For me, it's day-to-day interaction—discovering new people and the tool set that got them through what they got through. Do they have a tool set? How do they survive long without a tool set? Learning about people is my biggest inspiration when it comes to writing.
If you were to compare the album to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
That's tough! I'd say What Dreams May Come with Robin Williams maybe with a little of The Godfather sprinkled in there. There are a lot of great movies written about what this album's theme is. You get in trouble, you find your way out, and you end up making it better. It's hard to say though! It's a very delicate thing. There are so many elements involved. Music is based on other people to a large degree. Who much do you care about those other people and how much do they care about you? It's about finding great friends and growing and respecting those relationships. Nobody is going to kill each other like in The Godfather [Laughs]. They're not jockeying for position, but the respect in that movie is important. You learn what respect is, and how to earn it and give it. That's where The Godfather comes in. Plan ahead.
What artists shaped you?
The Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Garth Brooks, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Jay-Z, Eminem, everything Maynard James Keenan has ever done, Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine.
What have you been listening to lately?
I've been listening to a lot of alternative lately. I've been getting into AWOLNATION, Foster the People, and In This Moment a great deal. I really love them. I love Stone Sour right now. I've been listening to a lot of Stone Sour lately.
You ever think of breaking these songs down acoustic?
We have a secret acoustic version of "Burn it Down" that we're keeping in our back pocket. I think it's going to really surprise people. It's like the song, but it's not like the song. It's very purposeful and melodic. It's really cool. We love to break it down acoustically. I think it'd be great to do that with the whole record. A producer we worked with Eric Nelson told us, "You can do all the showing off you want. You can put all the effects in. However, if you can't sit down with an acoustic guitar and play a song, you don't have a hit song". That always resonated with us. It's a part of what we do.
You working on new tunes already?
We're actually writing the next album right now. We're nine songs into the next record.
Have you heard Mindset Evolution yet?