Song of the Day: “Red Western Sky” by Muzz

Muzz_Driely S
Muzz (Photo by Driely S.)

Paul Banks (frontman of Interpol), Josh Kaufman (producer/multi-instrumentalist of Bonny Light Horseman), and Matt Barrick (drummer of Jonathan Fire*Eater, The Walkmen, and Fleet Foxes’ touring band) have formed a new band called Muzz.

Muzz announced their self-titled, debut album, out June 5 on Matador, with new single/video, “Red Western Sky.” The album, written, arranged and performed by all three, is dark and gorgeous, expansive, and soulful.

Muzz was born out of longstanding friendship and collaboration. Paul Banks and Josh Kaufman have known each other since childhood, attending high school together in Spain before separately moving to New York. There, they independently crossed paths with Matt Barrick while running in similar music circles. They kept in touch in the following years: Matt drummed in Banks + Steelz and on some of Josh’s production sessions; Josh helped on Paul’s early Julian Plenti solo endeavour; various demos were collaborated on, and a studio was co-bought.

Taking shape at a simmer, the first Muzz recordings date back to 2015. A typical session incorporated demos Paul or Josh brought to the table with room for any member to build upon, or with a new skeleton composed during a jam in the live room. All three contributed lyrics and helped shape things vocally (a first for Paul, who is usually the sole lyricist).

In conjunction with today’s announcement, Muzz present the galloping “Red Western Sky” with a video, directed and produced by the band. It’s the first video to ever be shot at the immersive, psychedelic American Treasure Tour Museum, a location chosen after a Barrick family visit.

Watch the official music video for “Red Western Sky” by Muzz on YouTube:

“Josh has more training as a theory musician while Paul comes from a different perspective,” Matt said. “You never know how Paul’s gonna approach a song, lyrically and melodically, so it’s always unusual and exciting. Everyone is open to everyone else’s ideas. I think three is a great number of people for a band. We all had a big hand in everything.”

Sonically, “the music has this weird, super removed vibe but is also personal and emotional at the same time,” Josh said. “If something felt natural in a simple way, we left it. I’d never heard Paul’s voice framed like that—a string section, horns, guitars — we know none of that is visionary but it felt classic and kind of classy.” The band adopted the name “muzz” to describe the music’s subtle, analog quality and texture.

“Ultimately, the music speaks for itself,” Paul said. “We have a genuine, organic artistic chemistry together. It’s partly a shared musical taste from youth, as with me and Josh, but then it’s also the souls of my friends that resonate with me when expressed through music. I think it’s cosmic.”

For more Muzz, follow the band on Facebook.

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