Mutant Beat Dance—a trio comprised of Melvin Oliphant (a.k.a. Traxx), Beau Wanzer, and Steve Summers—will release their debut self-titled album via Rush Hour on November 5.
The sprawling 25-track album references the wide-reaching strains of post-punk electronics—synth wave, new wave, industrial, disco dub—and the borderless sound of Chicago's Music Box era, whilst presenting a sound that feels fresh and future-facing. It's an aesthetic that has widely been touched on in electronic music over recent years but on Mutant Beat Dance, the trio show that few others can do it this well, delivering a jaw-dropping set of tracks oozing personality and punk swagger. Originally a duo made up of Traxx and Beau Wanzer, the scope of the LP warranted the inclusion of Brooklyn's Steve Summers, who lended his hand to the standout collection. LCD Soundsystem members Tyler Pope, Pat Mahoney, and Gavin Rayna Russom also feature on the album, with the former two featuring on "Feed The Enemy," and the later providing vocals on "Geometrical Disease."
Mutant Beat Dance will drop via Rush Hour early next month and can be pre-ordered here. Ahead of the release, the trio has shared a full stream of "Feed The Enemy," which you can find below, along with Oliphant's story of the track's inception.
The LCD Soundsystem band members are friends of mine. I've also been a fan of them since I first saw them in Miami in 2003 and I was introduced to James Murphy by DJ Hell that same year.
For a long time I had various connections and moments with them—either at this club in NYC called Apt or venues in Chicago and Berlin. Years passed with continued success for LCD until they announced to the world that the band was coming to an end. I was personally invited to the final show at Madison Square Garden in 2011. Around this time, I had a stronger friendship with band members Gavin Rayna Russom, Tyler Pope, Pat Mahoney, and Matt Thornley. One day I was speaking with Tyler about an idea I had inspired by a 7" record I've had for many years called "Feed the Enemy" from a band called Magazine. It's this crazy punk-groove tune—upbeat, rebellious, and hardcore. It was produced by the legendary Martin Hannett (producer of Joy Division) on a single 12" inch record from Factory Records.
The version of this track was so incredible that I thought in my mind if LCD is coming to an end, maybe I could contribute something to them to show how much I appreciate them, so I got up the courage to ask Tyler if he would ask the band if they would be interested in doing a cover version of the track. They got back to me after some weeks just before they were about to go play their final goodbye show with the drums from Pat Mahoney and bass from Tyler Pope. I was shocked when Tyler gave me stems for the track—I hadn't thought he or anyone from the band would take me seriously but I was wrong.
I was completely in awe and arranged the song in my studio here in Chicago. They had played by hand the version from wax I had sent them (as an mp3 file)! Tyler and Pat had replayed the parts they could, leaving the song unfinished—this was great since it was never my intention to have them do everything but I had the basic song minus three other parts needed to bring the song to life. Figuring out how to complete it was a challenge—I didn't feel I had the means to do it, so I sat on the song for the last six years! Last year, in March 2017, I asked Summers to join Mutant Beat Dance with me and Beau. I asked him if he knew how to play a guitar and he said he's been playing bass for over 20 years, so I thought he could maybe solve the missing chorus chords for the song. That led to him bringing in electric guitar on the partially finished production of the song. As we listened in his studio we then added a synth for the low end to give it the tough attitude I wanted. The only thing remaining was the vocals and who would attempt to sing it. Nobody wanted to do it and I thought I couldn't because every time I tried I was trying too hard to imitate Howard Devoto without being anywhere near his vocal range. In short, I gave in being Devoto and took several other attempts to simply be myself—thankfully, Summer suggested that and after several takes we nailed it!
When I let Tyler and Pat hear the final song, they were both impressed. In October and November of 2017, the band asked me to be the opening act for their US tour where I played my first date with LCD in Detroit at The Masonic Temple Theatre and asked James if he'd had a chance to listen to it and he told me directly it was beautiful.