January 7, 2010

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The mindset to rock
Prog rockers Mindset X set for hometown show
By Michael Witthaus music@hippopress.com

Steve Scott is on the phone talking about his band, Mindset X, and their just-released album, As Seen on TV. It’s close to midnight and he’s still at work, in a place he calls a “high-tech warehouse.” 

Though he’s often on the job 12 hours a day, Scott still finds time to rock and roll — “I always do, believe me,” he says with a laugh.

Mindset X, a Manchester-based alt-metal trio — Scott plays guitar and sings, with Adam Cote on drums and Jerry Houle on bass and vocals — has evolved steadily since forming in 2004. Scott believes the new eight-song album is their strongest effort yet.

“You think every new record that comes out is better than the one before; that’s just how it works creatively,” he says. “But I’m ready to back this record ’til the day I die because we believe it in that strongly.”

It opens like a blast furnace with “Snake Oil,” an indictment of consumerism with riffs that recall early Pearl Jam as well as new metal acts like Chevelle. 

Scott says he wrote the song quickly in a fit of insomnia-induced inspiration.

“I think I was up late watching infomercials. I get sick of people selling me things,” he says. “That kind of sums up the album for us. No one seems to enjoy anything any more, it’s just buy, buy, buy.”

This theme continues on “Public Louse Americana,” with Scott sneering faux falsetto “the more you itch, the more you scratch … you sell it, we buy, you make it, we try it.”

It’s a punchy, heavier sound, best evinced on the breakneck-paced “Drop” and “Disco Circus,” which melds together the band’s many musical influences.

Scott is a fan of Rush, Yes and other progressive rock bands, while Houle favors punk and early Who. Cote’s speedy bass runs are inspired by guitarists like Frank Zappa and Robert Fripp, which Scott calls “off the charts.”

“But we mold together,” he says emphatically. “We’re pretty big fans of Primus and System of a Down — stuff that’s kind of weird but still serious at the same time.”

He says the band took a disciplined, economical approach to making As Seen on TV, which they self-produced in Scott’s basement studio. 

“We used to have a pretty bad habit of writing seven- to eight-minute songs that took a long time to get to the point,” Scott says. “This time we tried a reverse approach and tried to pack everything into three or four minutes, to get the point across and keep it going all the way through. I think we succeeded.”

They debuted the record at Copperfield’s in Boston on Dec. 13, a show Scott calls “the best CD release party we’ve ever had.”

“Being from outside of Boston and actually getting people to come to that venue, to travel and do their thing, it was very heartwarming,” he says.

A hometown show at Mad Bob’s, one of the band’s favorite venues, is set for Jan. 23. Mindset X will also appear on Local Music Rocks, a Westford, Mass., television show hosted by Steve Brown that’s broadcast on 23 public access cable channels throughout New England (locally, it can be seen in Hudson).

The goal is to keep moving forward, despite the challenges of bringing an album-based mindset into a song-based world. Scott says the band is ready.

“I think now we know a lot more than we did. It takes a band a long time to find the sound that they’re all about.  It took us five years. To evolve is one of the most fun things about being in a band,” he says. “At this point we’re where we need to be. I’m looking forward to writing more stuff but for now we’re going to promote the crap out of this record because we love it, and we’re proud of it.”


Hear it!
What: Mindset X CD Release Party
When: Saturday, Jan. 23, at 8 p.m.
Where: Mad Bob’s Saloon, 342 Lincoln St. in Manchester
Info: 669-3049