Tiny Moving Parts aren’t cut from the same cloth as many other math rock/emo bands. There’s not a tattoo in sight and the look is more Sheldon Cooper than Senses Fail. Aesthetics become irrelevant, however, when swathes of rock and metal fans relish your unique sound and emotive lyricism for over a decade. Grater catches vocalist/guitarist Dylan Mattheisen between soundcheck and performing in Indianapolis to find out about the new record and their first headlining tour of Australia in 2020.
“We just got home from Europe and the UK,” Mattheisen says. “We did a four-week run over there supporting ‘breathe’ and we just got back a week ago, so we had six or seven days to get rid of the jet lag and relax a little bit before starting this (US) jaunt.” breathe is their fifth full length, released on September 13 via Hopeless Records. It sees Mattheisen (vocals, guitar) and his cousins Matt (bass) and Billy (drums) Chevalier, grapple with mental health, anxiety and mortality while pushing their sonic boundaries. “I like … making sure it’s relateable so anybody listening can connect with it, because it is an outlet for me in a way,” Mattheisen says. “It helps me deal with the sadder, darker things that go on. It sounds like a total cliché – ‘It’s my outlet’ – but it really does help me get it out there, and I feel like it’s kind of a win-win because when people listen they can definitely relate to it as well and it’s like knowing you’re not alone. We’re all in life together and just trying our best to go through the bumps in the road, but try your best to keep your head up and stay optimistic in life. And I feel like that’s how Tiny Moving Parts has always been. Some people say, ‘Those are the saddest songs I’ve ever heard,’ and some people say, ‘Those are the most positive songs I’ve ever heard’,” he laughs. “It’s all about perspective on each track. We truly try to have a positive spin on it all.”
Mattheisen has been dealing with anxiety for some time and details this through TMP. “My first panic attack that I can remember is when I was on tour – I think it was eight years ago – I was 20 years old and I drank five cups of coffee in five minutes and I way overdosed on the caffeine. I was being an idiot; I don’t know what I was thinking. I had a full-blown panic attack. I had never felt anything like that before and to this today, I can never drink coffee again.” It made him realise he had to take care of himself physically and mentally, including getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water and exercising. The 28-year-old also addresses mortality on the record; sometimes feeling the years passing him by and wondering if he’s on the right path. “I feel as you get older you lose touch with people in life – sadly from death or people just moving – or sometimes friendships just dissipate … A lot of the topics in our songs are like, ‘Are you doing life right? Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing and not wasting it playing music?’ In the end, I feel like everybody always second guesses and everybody thinks in that way too, and as long as you’re happy and you’re not hurting anyone or you’re not hurting yourself, heck, live life and have fun.”
The trio from Benson, Minnesota, has put out a lot of music in a short period, and while they’re careful to ensure it’s the same TMP sound, they want to try new ideas and be as creative as possible. Producer John Fields of Jimmy Eat World, and Goo Goo Dolls fame helped achieve this on breathe. “Working with the new producer, John Fields – I didn’t really want to do it and then the staff at Hopeless said: ‘Just give it a shot and if it doesn’t work out then that’s fine. All we’d waste is your time for that day’, and I’m like: ‘Yeah, we’ll do it. Might as well try some new things’. Two to three songs we did with him were the singles for the record, so it worked out really well. And we love when someone tells us to try new things and they’re not pressuring us. They’re doing what a label is supposed to be doing and help you out and we help them out and everybody wins and everybody has fun. You always hear horror stories about the label telling you what to do and what not to do. This is our first record with Hopeless Records and … they have a lot of big names like Sum 41, Taking Back Sunday – these are names that we loved growing up. Thankfully that’s not the case with us at all. I haven’t heard that about anyone on Hopeless. They’ve been just super nice and very respectful and just telling us: ‘Do whatever you guys want to do. We’ll throw ideas at you and if you don’t like them, you don’t like them’.”
Fields also had a hand in the addition of banjo on song, Vertebrae. “We were actually in the studio and I recorded that riff on a guitar and then we saw a twelve string guitar, so … John … was like, ‘Try the twelve string guitar’, so I tried that out and was like, ‘That sounds cool’. And then we tried the banjo guitar and were like: ‘Sold! That thing sounds awesome and badass; that’s so cool’.”
Following September’s release, Tiny Moving Parts also announced their first ever run of Australian headline dates in early 2020. Dylan says ever since they’ve been a band they have been excited to travel to Australia at some point, and the way it was set up supporting Luca Brasi in August 2018 and doing all the cities was ‘perfect’. “They’re a great band and have a good following down there, so we were very thankful that they brought us out and we could play in front of a lot of new listeners. It blew our minds. We knew we wanted to go on tour in Australia; that’s all we knew. We didn’t know if we had fans in Australia… who actually cared about us down there. Once we did that, it was frickin’ so cool and can’t wait to go back. (On the 2020 tour) we’ll play a good amount of songs from a majority of the records for sure. We’ll definitely be playing a handful of songs from breathe and a handful of songs from ‘Swell’ and ‘Celebrate’ and ‘Pleasant Living’ and maybe even a couple from our first record, ‘Waves Rise, Waves Recede, the Ocean Is Full of Waves’.”
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