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Mute Prophet

Interview with MUTE PROPHET

Mute Prophet is a symphonic prog metal band from St. Louis who in December 2016 released their debut album “The Unheard Warning,” and already in March this year they re-released it with the remixed version of the album, simply because they were not satisfied with how the original mix turned out. Kevin Goetz, Chris Tompkins and Adrienne Odenthal spoke for Progstravaganza.

Hey folks. How are you doing?

All: We’re good!

Your debut album “The Unheard Warning” was put out in December. How do you feel about the release?

Kevin Goetz: I’m happy with it, especially after the remix we did in March. I did the mixing and mastering myself – we recorded everything at our home studio – so I had some personal grievances with the production on the December release that I later corrected, but as for the songwriting and the recorded performances, I’ve always been incredibly satisfied.

Chris Tompkins: It’s unreal. It’s one of those things where we’ve been trying to do this for so many years, it kind of hasn’t clicked yet that we finally have an album out.

Adrienne Odenthal: To me it’s like being past the first hurdle. Kind of the celebratory moment where now we can start on all our other plans without saying, “Well, we should probably save that for after the album’s done.” It’s not planning anymore, it’s action.

How much of a challenge was to work on the album?

Kevin Goetz: It was incredibly challenging. We’ve been trying to put this thing together for going on six years now with a bunch of line-up changes and style changes and stuff like that, and finally in December of 2015 we decided to scrap everything, build a top-of-the-line PC, drop all other musical obligations and spend the entire year just working on this.

Chris Tompkins: And up until 2014, it was only me and Kevin working on this. Our previous members didn’t contribute much of anything, so the creation of this album was really just us for a long time until Adrienne joined.

Adrienne Odenthal: It was extremely challenging for a lot of unexpected reasons. We had countless technical difficulties, including having multiple hard drives fail and take a lot of the recordings with them that we’d have to redo. There were a lot of small details that none of us anticipated, that we had to improvise solutions to before we could progress. I also went and learned marketing, graphic design, merch creation, and a lot of other side jobs that we still had to do ourselves, while Kevin worked on the mixing and production side of things.

The Unheard Warning

What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from St. Louis are you friends with?

Kevin Goetz: We actually haven’t met any other bands in our genre, believe it or not! We’re kind of the musical equivalent of that reclusive kid who stays home from all the parties, though hopefully once we start touring we’ll have more chances to network with other bands.

Chris Tompkins: Yeah, I really think it’s just that we haven’t gotten out there much yet. There are plenty of bands we’d like to meet, at least. We saw a local band, Final Drive, open for Children of Bodom at one point, and that was really cool.

What is your opinion about the current progressive metal scene?

Kevin Goetz: Personally, I love it! I think that because anyone can now release an album out of their bedroom, without having record labels as gatekeepers, anyone now has more of a shot at success than has ever really been possible. I actually teach music on Youtube and Skype, and I get a lot of students talking about how they’ve experienced this themselves. Basically, if you’re good at what you do, you can make it. Success is entirely on your own merits now, and that’s incredibly encouraging to me.

Chris Tompkins: I’m really happy with it. There are so many people out there now making really good music. It’s kind of intimidating, but it’s also cool because there’s always someone to learn from. It felt like, about ten years ago or so, metal was kind of stagnating a little bit. The progressive scene wasn’t quite there yet. But now, it seems like prog is moving more and more into the major overall metal scene.

Adrienne Odenthal: I feel like it’s going in a really interesting direction. Everyone’s experimenting in different ways to find something that hasn’t been done before.

Can you tell me something about your influences?

Kevin Goetz: In terms of songwriting, I get a lot of influence from symphonic metal bands like Nightwish and Epica, mixed with the guitar work from bands like Periphery or Animals As Leaders. In terms of my actual guitar playing, I think my biggest influences are Alexi Laiho, Rusty Cooley and Herman Li.

Chris Tompkins: Paul Gilbert, Michael Romeo, and Kiko Loureiro are probably the big ones for me.

Adrienne Odenthal: I’ve spent a lot of time studying the vocal styles of Floor Jansen and Simone Simons, and my main influence on growling is Angela Gossow.

What are you listening to these days?

Kevin Goetz: I’ve been trying to get more into modern metal, since I realized I’ve been kind of stuck in 2006 with my musical tastes. So I’ve been looking into bands like Born of Osiris, Veil of Maya and the like, but I still spend most of my time listening to my “classics,” stuff like Epica, Children of Bodom, Dragonforce, Shade Empire or Nightwish. A lot of Finnish stuff.

Chris Tompkins: Periphery, Animals As Leaders, Jared Dines’ solo album…I haven’t had a whole lot of time lately to listen to much music.

Adrienne Odenthal: Children of Bodom, Nightwish, In Flames, Epica, Shade Empire, Periphery, Delain and Revamp.

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?

Kevin Goetz: Sinthetic by Shade Empire, Once by Nightwish, Follow the Reaper by Children of Bodom, Inhuman Rampage by Dragonforce, and The Divine Conspiracy by Epica.

Chris Tompkins: Iconoclast by Symphony X, Follow the Reaper by Children of Bodom, Rebirth by Angra, Technical Difficulties by Racer X, Inhuman Rampage by Dragonforce.

Adrienne Odenthal: Follow the Reaper by Children of Bodom, The Jester Race by In Flames, Oceanborn by Nightwish, Sinthetic by Shade Empire, Holographic Universe by Scar Symmetry.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “The Unheard Warning”?

Kevin Goetz: We used Reaper for all recording and mixing, with everything coming through a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. Drums are Toontrack’s EZDrummer, guitars are LePou’s free guitar plugin Legion, orchestra/keyboard are a collection of free soundfonts I’ve assembled over the years, and the vocals were recorded through a Sterling ST51.

Chris Tompkins: Kevin plays a Schecter C7-Hellraiser, and I actually use a custom-built 8-string that we’ve had ambitions of prototyping into our own guitar brand. Strings were I think Ernie Ball Power Slinkies. I think we mostly used 2mm Dunlop picks, but I think I used a 1.5mm on a couple of my solos.

Adrienne Odenthal: My vocal cords, and Monster coffee…which I probably shouldn’t be drinking as often as I am.

Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?

Kevin Goetz: Actually, we’re already working on our second album, and we’ve also started planning covers of similar bands, to try to get our music in front of a larger audience. I’ve also been using my music lesson channel on Youtube to try and do some additional promotion.

Chris Tompkins: We’ve also been sitting on a documentary that details the creation of the album, which is something we’ve had fans express interest in.

Any words for the potential new fans?

Kevin Goetz: If you haven’t heard us before, and you’re interested in symphonic metal with a modern progressive twist, check us out on Spotify or Bandcamp.

Chris Tompkins: Or Youtube. And thanks for reading!