The Mute Gods have come a long way since releasing their debut album ‘Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me’ in early 2016. A respected trio featuring the talents of singer / bassist Nick Beggs, keyboardist producer Roger King, and multi-instrumentalist Marco Minnemann, the band were recently honoured at the Progressive Music Awards in London with the ‘Vanguard’ award; given to acts deemed worthy of wider recognition. With added momentum, not one, but two new albums are on the way; so say Nick and Roger. We caught up with the pair following their win. Praying to a mute god: Eamon O’Neill.
Congratulations on collecting this evening’s ‘Vanguard’ award.
NB: We’re very happy about that. I think we did something good there!
RK: We did something all right; we made an album people like, didn’t we?
NB: Yes, with the help of the unbelievable Marco Minnemann.
RK: It’s pretty much down to Marco, he’s probably the best drummer in the world.
NB: He’s pretty amazing.
When you started The Mute Gods, initially you were unsure how the project would be received; does getting an award like this validate it?
NB: Yes, of course. I mean, I suppose we would have carried on regardless, but this puts a spring in your step, you know? It makes you feel like somebody’s listening, and so, okay; should we consider more carefully what we are doing, or should we just carry on in a laissez-faire way?
RK: The second album is underway, but that largely depends on how you pay me, Nick! *laughing* But yes, of course it validates everything you do; if people buy it, then it’s a pat on the back, and it makes you think; well, when I get up tomorrow morning, I am renewed and reinvigorated, and I’ll get on with it.
So the second Mute Gods album is on the way then?
RK: Very much so. It’ll be out in the early part of the new year.
Have you got a title for it?
NB: I have got a title for it, but I’m not going to tell you yet.
RK: Yes, because we’re going to fight over the title!
NB: Yes, Roger thinks it’s terrible, but I love it; it’s apocalyptic, ironic and catchy!
Were you surprised by the reaction that ‘Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me’ album got?
NB: I’m surprised that people were prepared to put away my history and not hold it against me.
You’ve had your pop history, but these days you’re more well-know as the go-to prog guy, aren’t you?
NB: Well, it’s lovely, isn’t it. That’s a lovely thing to say, thank you.
RK: There’s quite a lot of who’ve had to put away your pop history.
NB: That’s true, to be fair. It’s a double-edged sword, of course, and one also has the ability to wish that the grass was greener on the other side, whilst not realising quite how lush one’s own astro turf is.
Which is more important to you, critical or commercial acclaim?
NB: Both, but I would say this [The Mute Gods] is more critical acclaim. Selling three million records is great, but selling thirty thousand records and having something like this award, is equally as rewarding.
‘Do Nothing Til You Hear From Me’ was a very personal record, which much make it even more rewarding.
NB: We were talking about this over dinner; we were just talking about how people respond to visceral, guttural emotion, and they want to hear the real person, and if you’ve got something to say, and if you can say it in the purest way; that’s human condition, that’s what people relate to. So, I guess, that’s what we tried to do with that record; talk about subjects that connect with people.
RK: It doesn’t matter if it’s prog, pop, or r ‘n’ b, or classical, or anything; you don’t get in the way of talking to your audience.
NB: That’s very true.
RK: It kind of doesn’t matter; you put a heartfelt song in the middle of a prog album, and it’s the heartfelt song that connects.
You have stated that the initial plan with The Mute Gods is to release a trilogy of albums. Does that mean that album number three is now a reality too?
NB: That’s the plan. Well, as long as we don’t fuck up this next one!
RK: It might be a Roger King solo album.
NB: *laughing* It could be a Roger King solo, yes it could be! We were talking about concepts for the third album just recently, and I warned Roger to actually start the ball rolling on this.
Finally, you’re both engaged in work with Steve Wilson and Steve Hackett; is it difficult to shuffle between those roles?
NB: It’s easy when you work with people who are so yielding and supportive in helping you welcome you into the situation. Roger went over the parts with me ad nauseaum; he was very patient.
RK: I was the nauseous one.
NB: So therefore, you know, you work with people like that, and it’s no chore, is it? It’s a pleasure.
Is the Mute Gods your first love, now?
NB: I get bored very quickly, so I have to do lots of things to keep myself sharp.
RK: He’s the slickest PR operative you’ve ever met!