For years John Muylle played a pied piper on local stages, building audiences into frenzy as frontman for the absurdist glam rock band Everthus the Deadbeats. Then one
day, Muylle found he was losing followers, even within his own band. First, drummer Dan Fahrner grew
tired of touring. Then Lisa Berlin and Benny Sanders joined Jookabox. Finally,
Allen Banister left for Everything Now.
"I took it hard at first," Muylle says. "I'm just going to
keep playing music regardless. If I can find some good people who want to play
music with me that's awesome but I am just going to keep going."
And go ahead he did. Muylle could have shut things down
during the transition and gone solo. He's proven he has the talent to perform
alone. But in true pied piper fashion, he found new band mates. And the band - now known as Dead Beats - eventually worked up a new album, Wake Up (Standard Recording Company). And it's appropriate the first words heard on Wake
Up serve as a clarion call: "Dead Beats
The first new member of the Dead Beats was Joe Fawcett, a
roommate of Muylle's who was accompanying the band on tours and acting as a
roadie. A native of Texas from the Dallas/ Ft. Worth area, Fawcett took 12
years worth of piano lessons, studied music theory, learned violin and
clarinet. When he arrived at Ball State for college he was burnt out on music
and gave it up for over four years. He rediscovered his love for it by jamming
with friend, playing violin while they played guitar. When Sanders left, he
picked up the bass and helped to reshape the band.
"When I first joined the band I realized I'm not the same
guy as Benny," Fawcett says. "My personality onstage—I have to learn how
to cultivate that. Benny always brought a strong power to the stage. At first I
was intimidated to play his old bass lines."
Muylle was nervous about debuting the new line up. But he
took comfort in knowing that another Muncie-born
band, Everything, Now!, had a history of revolving membership. If that band's frontman Jon Rogers could keep things
going for so long, Muylle reflected, why couldn't he? They performed their
first show as a trio with Banister on drums. "It was part of the 'we're going
to keep going no matter what,' thing," says Muylle.
And when his temporary drummer Banister left, Muylle
realized he could approach the experience of rebuilding the band in a positive
manner. He could find freedom in it. Together with Fawcett, he could visit any
musical landscape he desired.
They found two more musicians to flesh out the band. Michael
Foster had been a Deadbeats fan. He took over on keyboard and backing vocals
and also brought an artistic background to the band — a common trait
among members both past and present. They found Evan Blackmore via Craigslist.
The drummer is a full time musician who makes his living by teaching lessons
and working as a session musician.
"It feels like a brand new thing now instead of an
extension," Muylle says of the changes. They were no longer Everthus the
Deadbeats, however, and a name change was in order. "If we had completely
changed the name it would have put to shame all the work that was done before,"
Muylle says. So they would instead be Dead Beats.
Wake Up is more of a
straightforward rock album than 2008's concept driven John Kill and
the Microscopic Lullaby. "There is no point
in making [the band] sound like it did before because it's all new people,"
Muylle says. "It's not all that different of a sound really but everyone has
their own flavor they brought [to the band]." Similar themes from previous
releases pop up — loneliness, rebirth and — Muylle's off-kilter
humor is also still present in the music, as in a song like "Humming Cows,"
which at the end of the human race from the perspective of the cows that
The album resembles a late sixties pop gem from an alternate
reality where the Beach Boys surfed apocalyptic fire instead of crystal clear
ocean waves. And it's Muylle's most accessible work to date, though it still
challenges its listeners the way his past work did. "Hi-Def Man" shares a
musical lineage with The Beatles' "Mean Mr. Mustard" and Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy
Man." "Tongue," the albums final track and a classic Dead Beats rocker, feels
like a proclamation. It's the moment the new line-up finds itself, and a
promise of great things to come. The Dead Beats will play on.
"Scorpio" from Wake Up (courtesy of Standard):
"Conveyor" from Wake Up (courtesy of Standard):