Mutts releases new EP and music video


Courtesy of Mutts

Mutts releases new EP and music video

By Alexa Rixon

Chicago-based rock band Mutts, founded in 2009, is a keys, bass and drums trio with Mike Maimone as frontman and keyboardist, Ian Tsan on drums, and Bob Buckstaff on guitar and bass.

The band’s single “Let’s Go” was played at Wrigley Field during the Cubs’ historic 2016 World Series run.

Mutts released its latest EP Stick Together, and music video, “I’ll Be Around,” directed by Maimone, Sept. 12. The video features LGBTQ couples alongside clips of the band playing and Maimone singing, initially covering his face but later singing with pride.

The Chronicle spoke with Maimone about the music video and his experiences that lead to its vision.

The Chronicle: What inspired the music video “I’ll Be Around”?

Mike Maimone: I was raised in a Catholic family and I’m a gay man. I find myself holding hands with my fiancé in public and feeling a little uncomfortable, and I’m not sure if that’s because of my religious background or growing up in a rural conservative area in Ohio. I know several friends who are the same way in public, and if more people were just comfortable casually expressing that they are in love and together, it would be less of an issue. The song is [about how] I’ve had some relationships turn sour because a man was not able to overcome internal guilt or external pressure or some combination of the two. I wanted to make a song that was reaching out to people who still feel like they can’t be themselves in their relationships.

In the video, you cover your face with translucent hands—what is that meant to symbolize?

To symbolize the shame and guilt a lot of people feel. If you listen to the words in the verses, they’re kind of dealing with some of the more negative repercussions of certain religions. When we switch to the choruses, I take my hands off my face to show it’s not all bad. There’s a lot of great religious people out there who do great things and are accepting and supportive.

How did you become more open about your upbringing?

I had a pretty difficult time coming out within my own head and I guess I was looking for something to blame. You can’t get married in a Catholic church, you can’t receive communion if you are a ‘practicing homosexual.’ Things like that really turned me off to the establishment in general, but the more I talk to people within the establishment, I find really accepting and caring individuals. It’s seeing the trees through the forest; I realized a lot of the people that I was afraid to come out to are really supportive of me.

Why did you highlight a church in the video?

To show people that if that’s where your faith belongs, it’s OK. You’re going to find acceptance there if you look hard enough. Maybe a Catholic church isn’t for you, but I’m sure you could find a denomination that is. We actually [filmed] in a Lutheran church.

How did opening up about being gay bring you more fulfillment?

I was out to my musician friends, but I was still hiding my relationship from my college friends and my family, and it’s exhausting. You don’t know who knows, you’re living this lie, and it’s not allowing you to fully connect with that relationship [or your] friends and family because you’re closing these things off and compartmentalizing them. Coming out to my family was difficult at first, but it was like I took this giant boulder of stress and shame off my shoulders. It took a little while, but we’re at a good place now and I can just be myself. I’m engaged and my family loves my fiancé, whose name is also Mike, which is kind of fun.

What is Stick Together about?

Leading up to the [2016] election, we were in such a divisive period over the country and over the world and it’s like “Wait, wait, wait—we’re all in this together.” So that’s the macro level, encouraging people in general to stick together. Also, I’m 35 now [and] my band is also in their mid-30s. Most of our peers are getting to the point where they’re making the decision [whether or not it’s] working out financially to be in a full-time band. A lot of people are quitting. We wanted to make Stick Together a message of solidarity: to keep going.