The Playlist

Interview: Museum Mouth

Coastal N.C. Trio Displays the Silliness That Lightens Its Emotional Pop-Rock
By Corbie Hill
Tuesday, August 5, 2014 |
Museum Mouth | photo by Abby Oliver

In May, the Charlotte label Self Aware Records released Alex I Am Nothing, the third album from the coastal North Carolina trio Museum Mouth. A two-week tour brings the band to Columbia’s Foxfield Bar and Grille tonight, where the pop-punk trio plays on an unlikely bill featuring everything from hardcore bands to the jangly Astro Cowboy.

What: Museum Mouth
Where: Foxfield Bar and Grille, 406 Howard St.
When: Tuesday, Aug. 5, 8 p.m.
With: Bitchmouth, Gouge Away, No Peace, Astro Cowboy.
Price: Free
More Info:

True to this form, the band’s tour experience has been as gleefully absurd as its Twitter activity. “We watched the two episodes of The Magic School Bus that take place in space last night,” says singing drummer Karl Kuehn. “We were trying to find the one where Arnold, the redhead, takes his helmet off and his head freezes and he dies.”

“But he just gets a cold,” says guitarist Graham High, sounding a little disappointed.

Free Times caught up with Museum Mouth — Kuehn, High and bassist Kory Urban — to talk about the tour, the group’s relationship with its label and Kuehn’s latest Top-40 obsession: 311. And somewhere in there, Kuehn took a picture of my breakfast.

Free Times: How’s this release been different? For one, you have a proper vinyl record of it.

Karl Kuehn: That’s been a cool thing. We picked up a lot of press in bigger areas, which is exciting and cool. We’ve sold some copies, too, which is pretty exciting. Stereogum premiered this really stupid video we made, so that’s cool and exciting and new — a new landmark in terms of how dumb we can be and people still love us.

So are you still getting love from the mtvU guys? They were all over the last stuff.

KK: None so far. The programming guy who we befriended and who was so nice to us has since left the network, so I’m a little nervous to try and rekindle a relationship with that company through someone else because he was so welcoming and okay with how annoying and stupid we are. I felt like that was a fluke.

Graham High: We’d really have to try for them to like us.

KK: For me, it was mainly rooted in nostalgic purposes because MTV was the cool thing. So getting coverage on MTV is crazy. Now that it’s kind of gone, it’s like, “Well, it happens.”

Which brings us to 311.

KK: I’m wearing a 311 shirt.

What about 311 does it for you?

KK: I think it’s mostly how beautiful Nick Hexum is, the frontman. But, also, the songs are pretty good.

Kory, Graham, how are y’all feeling about 311?

GH: I wake up every morning with a different 311 song in my head. It’s not the pleasantest thing I’ve ever experienced.

KK: Graham threatened to hit me with a frying pan because when we got into Bethel, Connecticut, he had this really awful 311 song stuck in his head.

Kory Urban: Man, I was into 311 back in high school, and then, whatever, got over them. And then one day Karl is flipping out over them, and I’m like, “All right, whatever, 311.” But on this tour, I’ve heard “Come Original,” like, eight times. A lot of people really hate 311. I didn’t have anything against them until this tour.

KK: I downloaded the entire discography before we left.

KU: It’s hell!

Looking at the Foxfield show, it’s you guys and Astro Cowboy and a bunch of hardcore and punk bands. Is that the scene at most of your shows on this tour?

KK: That’s a good thing. Whenever you’re booking a DIY tour, that happens inevitably at least once: You get a weird stacked show with a bunch of bands that don’t make a lot of sense. But it’s never a bad experience.


Is it weird being on a bill with, like, circle pit bands?

KU: I don’t think it’s weird.

KK: I don’t think it’s weird. I embrace it; I like seeing shows like that.

Alex I Am Nothing is on Self Aware Records. What’s working with what those guys doing for you?

KK: It’s just kind of a really cool friendship. (Label owners) Josh and Sarah (Robbins), they also printed our most recent batch of shirts because that’s a thing that they do. They screen print. It’s cool to have a bunch of people in Charlotte we really know who we feel really comfortable staying with and playing with. Josh is in Late Bloomer, and Late Bloomer is so good. Alright, the band that Josh and Sarah are in together, is also super-good. It just gives us a sense of community in an area of North Carolina we don’t always get to play.

So, what happens next?

KK: I think we’re going to shoot a video for “Sacred” when we get back. That’ll be like the “Just Friends” video.

KU: Hopefully creepier.

KK: The “Just Friends” video was a trial run for how creepy Kory could make something. So we’re going to try to double the creepy factor in the new one. You know water beads, the little tiny things you put in the bottom of a plant and then you fill it with water and then they grow? I’m obsessed with those, so I think we’re going to fill a bathtub with them.

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