A Chat with Muzzle Tung (09.10.2020)

Muzzle Tung have hit a moment of clarity and are taking a subtle turn to lighter and sunnier musical compositions. The core team of Geoffrey Leonard and Karley Parker showcase this turn alongside various collaborators on their latest LP Gannet. One of the first tracks off the LP is ‘VF Blue’ that offers a sly nod to an older time and the sounds of the Beach Boys. We sat down with Geoffrey Leonard to talk about the single, LP, their creative process, music and much more!

OSR: How did the band get together?

Leonard: In 2014 I mentioned to my friend, Michael Biggs, a damn talented multi-instrumentalist from SLC, that I had a few song ideas I wanted to work out but didn’t have means to record. He hooked me up with some software and I picked up a cheapy 2 channel interface. I hammered out a few demos which are still on Soundcloud. Biggs liked the sound and we liked hanging out so we made our first album Administration. He quit right before we started recording Gannet, and we rebooted our friendship outside of music. Love that person.

OSR: The number of collaborators within the band changes depending on the music, how do you get in touch with artists?

Leonard: The music scene in Salt Lake City is super tight-knit. There are only a handful of music venues in Salt Lake City. The group of musicians I grew up with came from the suburbs to the north. Every weekend, we’d all pile the car we could get a hold of to head downtown. So the first incarnation of Muzzle Tung was composed of those friends from the north. Almost everyone that has even been in Muzzle Tung has/had their own music projects. I always wanted a long term band like The Beach Boys with maximum collaboration, but people have different interest levels. They come and go and I drink my fucking tears.

It seems like bands we play with dig what we do. Whenever a local band split or went on hiatus, if there was someone whose work I liked and we could vibe, I would ask them to join. Playing music is such a thrill. So if I saw someone lose that I would offer them to join. No strings, participate as much and as long as you like.

The band started with me singing/drums, then we found a better drummer. I moved to bass, spanked that shit for a few years. Then things lined up and Dyana joined, and Dyana slays. Karley has been playing with the band since the first record. Seth was in one of my favourite local bands, but that entered a hiatus state. He joined up a few years ago and was a primary force in the creation of Gannet. He moved to Columbus for love. Our most recent drummer, Paul, comes from a metal background. He joined after the record was done. He dunked our album on its head. Such a talent!

OSR: Is there a story behind your single ‘VF Blue’?

Leonard: My goal with each record is to try to make the pop poppier and the weird weirder. ~VF Blue~ is my strike at 60’s pop-rock. Lyrically, it’s the idea that you should dive headlong into whatever you want. Get lost on a fool’s errand, fuck up and fail. My sibling digitized our home videos and I thought that would be a solid juxtaposition. Happy kid at the Grand Canyon and a sad pop song.

OSR: What was your creative process the single?

Leonard: It was one of the last songs written and recorded for Gannet so I think it has a sonic quality that reflects that continual process of increasing proficiency and awareness of self as a songwriter.

OSR: The single comes off your second LP Gannett, can you tell us a bit more about the LP?

Leonard: Having Seth on the drums was crucial to creating the sound on Gannet. The first album’s percussion was sampled from my drum kit, so it had more of a techno sound to the percussion. Seth’s grooves and fills blew me away. We’d start with a digi beat and get the song 80-90% done and then Seth would open up his mind to the soul Ringo Starr. BAM! The song is complete and realized. It was like cleaning your windshield and you see where you’re going. Thank you Seth. Thank you Ringo.

OSR: Why did you choose to release ‘VF Blue’ as a single?

Leonard: Sometimes when you’re chasing down an idea it comes together in a way that seems true to what you set out to create. ‘VF Blue’ rolled out like a red carpet and we walked down it. All the pieces fell into place. It’s probably the most pop song on the album but also has the elements that we feel represent our sound.

Muzzle Tung

OSR: Is there a common thread through the songs on the LP?

Leonard: I guess I would say the spirit of collaboration would be the common thread. I engineer the recording sessions in our dungeon. I would lay down a simple drum track, vocals, a little piano melody, and then say, “What do you want to do to this?” Any instrument, anywhere on the song.

We would just freak down there for hours. The guitar solo on ‘VF Blue’ was done by a friend named Stephen King (real person, not the writer). He’d never even heard the song, which I think can yield some great results! Take after take on the guitar. I had like 30 minutes of guitar for a 30 second part. I chopped it up and made that nasty little solo.

OSR: The LP comes with a four-part web series, why did you decide to do this?

Leonard: I wanted to make a wack Mr Rogers. Wholesome and hopefully weird. I love film. I constructed the idea as a means to get together with Karl and Dyana, have a good time and film it.

OSR: If the band were pack animals, what would you be and why?

Leonard: I would liken the band to a fenceless animal sanctuary. Come in, do your thing, leave when you want. I’m a monkey with a bent tail and parasites in my ears.

OSR: What else can we expect from you in the next 6 months?

Leonard: We’ve already started recording the next album. Seth is sending me drum tracks from Columbo. I’ve been hoarding melodies that arrive in my moments of bliss or stupor. Our third record won’t take as long to make. I’ve gotten some mental and physical things sorted. We’re gonna burn this next one.

Thanks to Geoffrey Leonard for chatting with us! You can find more about Muzzle Tung on their Facebook, Instagram, Bandcamp and Spotify.

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