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Hotstar


12:00 AM Friday, 12/14/01 |   |

Incessant touring. The idea is simple enough: Put a band on the road and steadily build a fanbase. Alone, it can be immensely rewarding. But there's another benefit of great value, one that Mudvayne learned through more than a year-and-a-half of being on the road.

"Of course, like any other band, touring has really brought us together," said drummer sPaG, aka Matt McDonough, not referring to physical proximity.

"Our soundman/tour manager, the first time he ever worked with us which was back in December of '99, he thought we were horrendous. He was like, 'What the fuck is up with these guys? Why is Slipknot taking them on the road?'"

But time changes more than one's age.

"For me, I'm in the middle of it and it's hard to see how much we have improved, but a lot of people have said playing live has really focused the band; we've gotten a lot tighter," McDonough confessed while shopping with his girlfriend at a Madison, Wis., mall. "Back then, in 1999, our sound guy was working for another band doing their sound. ... Now he is our soundman and our tour manager, so that kind of says it right there."

That's just an example of how Mudvayne continues to win supporters, building a legion of diehard followers with each of its tours, which have included the Pledge of Allegiance outing, Ozzfest, Tattoo The Earth and Australia's Big Day Out festivals. Born from Peoria, Ill.'s music scene, the outfit is known for delivering a performance that catches the eye as much as the ear.

While the four-piece's music runs the spectrum of moshing aggression, ranging from Slipknot to Tool, its appearance also maintains a forceful theme. It varies - publicity and performance still show the musicians in colorful, demonic face paint. Some people, however, may recall the group accepting its MTV2 award during the Video Music Awards in white tuxedos, covered in fake blood, and a bullet hole prominently displayed on each member's forehead.

The teen market has embraced the band's visual style, but McDonough admitted it might be a Catch-22 - unnerving and ultimately segregating other demographics such as older listeners. However, with its opening slot on the recent Ozzy Osbourne tour with Rob Zombie, Mudvayne was offered a chance to peddle its wares to a different audience.

"One of the things I'm really excited about is I'm hoping that with Ozzy drawing an older crowd ... I think that we have a lot to offer an older, more mature listening crowd that wouldn't be inclined to listen to us due to the more trivial and superficial aspects of the visual," McDonough said.

"If older people my age had an opportunity to be exposed to the more esoteric, more mature aspects of our writing, they might get turned on to us," he said, noting the musicians range in age from late 20s to early 30s.

He added that the tour is "a great all-around opportunity for us and for it to be the last tour on this cycle of the album, I think it's definitely a validating and nice climax putting the period at the end of the sentence of everything we've done on this round."

So far, Mudvayne's accomplishments include its Epic debut, L.D. 50, selling a half million copies nationwide since its August 2000 release, according to SoundScan. The group recently released its much-lauded demo album, formerly known as Kill I Oughtta (renamed The Beginning Of All Things To End). A concert DVD titled "L(I've) D(osage)" was expected December 11th.

It's been a long uphill tour but worth every effort, said group manager Chuck Toler, who signed on with the band in 1999. Touring is "absolutely the most important part because it's allowed them to be seen and pick up the MTV2 award with the ('Dig') video. Without kids wanting it, we wouldn't have gotten this far. Every time they've seen the group, we've gotten great response," he said.

"This is a case where constant touring really pays off. There's no question about it. This band has played everywhere and anywhere that they could get an audience and it's certainly paid off in the reaction they've gotten back," Toler said. "The band has still not even done an actual headlining tour. They're certainly capable of it, but we've held them from doing that because we feel it's going to be in their best interest to grow further."

Having one of the kings of heavy metal booking, The Agency Group's Dave Kirby - at the reigns has undoubtedly contributed to Mudvayne's success.

"I think you can pretty much say all of the opportunities that we've had have either come from the label, [Kirby] or our management," McDonough said.

Just as important, though, is the band's drive.

"One thing that I can say in our defense in regards to whether or not people are into the band, is that we take what we do very seriously. We go onstage every single show and we give that show its singular attention," he said.

"It takes a certain amount of maturity and ability to have the foresight, goals and vision to see a career played out, to be able to visualize where the band is going to be in four years or when we're touring on the third album or whatever. We think in those terms and always have, and maybe that comes with a bit of age and maturity."

Inside photo: Dean Karr


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