Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Apr 20th 2011 11:00AM by Cameron Matthews
The band's newest album 'Simple Math,' out May 10 via Favorite Gentlemen/Columbia Records, examines the turbulent times of Hull's marriage and the right equation to get back to the love he and his wife started with. Spinner recently spoke to Hull about the meaning of his new record and the band's powerful new video for the title track.
You guys are from Atlanta. What is it about Atlanta that breeds amazing music?
I feel like there's this weird kind of like inbred [laughs] ... I guess it's this inbreed between grunge and country, this bizarre mix of all these different bands. I guess there's still a root within all of us that's still got this weird vibe that you're talking about. I think the blues has a lot to do with it.
You moved from Atlanta to Canada, right?
Yeah, I lived in Atlanta for the first seven years, and then my dad is a pastor and my grandfather is a pastor. We [and] my dad moved to Toronto to pastor a church and he did that for seven years. He moved back to Atlanta then after that. I'm originally from the South, I just spent a seven-year tenure up north.
Were you influenced at all by the move?
Absolutely. To grow up in Toronto, it's an amazing city, from 7 to 14. Yeah, definitely. It was my childhood.
What was the hardest part about that transition?
I don't think it was that hard because it was home. Canada was always not home. We were going back home. The hardest transition in going to Canada was the fact that I was 7 years old.
When did you know you were going to make music for a living? Did any band or show you saw inspire you?
I figured it out at about 15 or 16. When did I realize I was going to make a living? Jesus, I hoped I was going to make a living at 15. I assume I started making a living a few years ago [laughs].
Pedro the Lion was a really big thing for me, Built to Spill. Those bands all of a sudden [took] me to this other place where early '80s-emo-punk probably couldn't go. That was probably around when I was 15.
As far as like a show, I remember seeing the Blood Brothers play at the Masquerade and it scaring me to my core. I'd never heard of them. I just went with a friend, and then shortly after that I realized that I want that power. I wanted that power just to shock people with sound.
What is the concept behind the video for 'Simple Math'?
I didn't really know what it is. Even when we were filming it I would keep asking, "What are we doing this for?" They'd be like "OK, well, we're going to be putting a giant steering wheel that will whip around and blows out of you at this point." It was kind of incredible filming it having no idea what these dudes were doing with just having full trust in them.
Who directed the video?
They're called Daniels. Have you seen that dog boarding video? It's awesome. It went viral over the weekend. But yeah, they're just this brand-new directing team. It just so happened that one of them was a huge fan of even my side stuff, so it really was kind of a perfect storm for us to work together.
I met with them in New York a few months ago. We were getting close to choosing, and I just felt this energy off of them that was so young and ready to just conquer. We really try to work with anybody who's like that.
They looked at that song and they're like "a lot of times we have to find the arc and we have to find the story climax, and the hook isn't always there, and like, you know, 'Simple Math'? You've given us four climaxes over the song. We can really make something cinematic about this."
What's up with the deer head in the video?
Our first song on the record is called 'Deer' on 'Simple Math,' and I kind of encouraged Daniels to incorporate as much stuff from the album as they could into it, so there's little things all across the video that refer to the full-length. I think the deer head is terrifying, that's why I like it. They really wrote that treatment as like those movies like 'Being John Malkovich' where John Malkovich is John Malkovich but he's not. It was like they wrote what they would think would be my childhood. And in reality, it's even a joke between me and my dad -– we never went hunting, ever [laughs].
Both of the guys in the directing team are named Daniel, that's why they're called Daniels, and one of them grew up in Alabama where we shot it. We shot it in his parents' huge house in Guntersville in the middle of nowhere. It's actually called "Meth Mountain," the area that we were in. They had this treatment of what me as this little boy would be like in this story. At the beginning, I feel like you get this vibe that the dad's kind of an a------, and by the end you realize I'm the a------. My dad's been there the whole time. I was just too young to see it.
It looks like you got banged up a bit, like the scene where you roll down the road. How did you guys film that?
I f---in' rolled, man! [Laughs] That's how I did it. Yeah man, I [had] to be like Jackie Chan, try this s--- out myself.
Really, the worst was all the takes of me throwing myself around the cab of that truck. They were like "one more, man!"
How autobiographical is your work?
That's a heavy question. With this album in particular, I've never written as autobiographically as I have. The other albums I was writing about kind of larger and less specific concepts, where this album I'm writing about much larger concepts but in great specific detail. This is a record that is about my wife and I almost ending right after we got married. It was two years of us getting back and becoming what we are, which is happy and [in] a healthy relationship. It was something that was tough, man.
My wife would never tell me to not write a song because that's how I process everything. But I definitely had to ask her, "Are you ok with me sharing this story?" It's nothing angry with her. There's nothing mean. It's really just a lot of analyzation. There's some lyrics in there like "god damn I'm tired of lying/I wish I loved you like I used to." I feel like that's kind of tough to write and then release.
We'd be like, "I'm proud of our story. I'm proud that we got through this." It was really cool. So yeah, I'd say it was extremely autobiographical.
Do you try to emulate legendary frontmen? Do you do the "rooster" like Mick Jagger?
Hell Yeah. But that's not what I do because I'm big, you know. I'm a muscular type dude, so I'd end up prancing around. We try to do it with music -– you're into like Rock 101. The guys that we're going on tour with, Cage the Elephant, that's kind of their thing. They're crazy.
Yeah, those guys are crazy!
They're f---ing crazy dude. I feel personally, when I get older, like I earn more and more right to move less onstage. That's something I'm actually looking forward to, being like Jeff Tweedy and taking four steps in three hours.
And Matt [Shultz of Cage the Elephant] is like "no dude, I don't think I could even play a show if I wasn't jumping in the crowd. I just couldn't do it." So, different breeds.