Mute drummer Étienne Dionne talks about his views on skatepunk

Canadian skatepunks Mute recently toured Europe and Jera On Air was one of the stops that was blessed with their energetic music. After a hectic day of traveling and playing we catched up with vocalist and drummer Étienne Dionne for a quick talk about all things Mute. Find out below.

Welcome to Jera On Air, first time here? How’s it been?

First time, we arrived maybe an hour and a half ago. We played our set already and I just walked around to see what the festival looks like.

Because of the traffic we arrived late, we played Munich last night, it was a long drive and we got delayed because of that. I didn’t get the chance to really experience the festival that much. I went straight from packing the van to meeting you here. It seems like more a of a hardcore than punk festival. Since I arrived I only heard hardcore bands and like Ignite, although they are in between. I was wondering if it was like a hardcore festival or a punk rock festival.

Almost halfway the Euro tour, Aalst, Belgium was the first show….

Not even, I think we are only a third of the tour now. We played Belgium, Aalst first show and we played a secret show in Leuven. We’ve got a substitute bass player, Jeroen Meeus (from the band March,…). Our bass player stayed at home, he’s got a young family and he couldn’t leave for a month and we wanted to tour for a month.

So we asked Jeroen to come along like six months ago, he learned all the songs, all the harmonies. We’ve played like 8 shows already and it is really starting to gel.

And you’re actually one show away from a small tour with Descendents.

Only two shows, you can call it a tour if you want too. We’ve played Milan and in Austria, the guy that does all those festivals in Austria booked us to play the show with Descendents. We got the chance to play two shows with them. Milan was organized by the same people who do the festival Bayfest. We’ve played with basically like all the bands we were looking up to but not the Descendents. We never played with the Descendents, they were really cool. Down to earth people. We also know their tour manager. It was a fun experience.

Mute plays fastpaced skatepunk, guitar shredding included. Who are some of the guitar gods that inspired Mute?

That’s a good question, because I play drums. There’s some metalheads in the band, so I guess some metal bands I don’t know about. I’m not the metal guy in the band, I’m more the skatepunk guy. The guitar players they are also into skatepunk but they are into metal a lot.

What drummers would you mention as an influence then?

I even follow some on Instagram, I follow Josh Freeze (The Vandals), he plays with Pink now. The guy is really good, he played with all the big bands around, he played with Weezer. He played with Guns And Roses. I like his style, he’s very energetic. He can play fast, he can play slow. He’s always super hard on the drums. He’s the guy I really look up to.

In 2016 you released Remember Death, quite a dark album at times for skatepunk.

You’re right. It just came naturally, we started by writing the songs, the melody. And when you got a melody that’s darker it is hard to put something positive on top of it. So maybe when I write the lyrics I was inspired by what the music was bringing to me. The songs are a little bit darker in their progression and melody. That’s the reason why, when we collected all the songs together. I also do the artwork and the graphic design. That’s when I thought about that, I told the guys about the concept. I found someone on the street that looked like part of the death lady. I asked her to do it and she also starred in the video. It also brings a whole to the concept of the album.

Nowadays it’s not a hype music, it’s more like the oldschool punkers that were listening to it in the 90’s that are still at the shows. There’s not that much of a younger generation. At least not here in Europe.

Étienne Dionne – Mute

Mute hails from Quebec Canada, where you combine the band with your daytime jobs. A hard position to juggle?

It is harder every single time. The older we get. That’s why th bassist isn’t with us this time. We’ve got dayjobs, fortunately we’ve got dayjobs that still allow us to go on tour for many weeks or months a year. On my part I’m a freelance photographer so I’m the most flexible one. Even with that, just before leaving on tour I had to work my ass off just to get everything done. I woke up at 6 am the day before leaving, I went to work untill 10h, went home, at 10h30 I got my luggage done and at 11h I was at the rehearsal space and at 11h30 I was at the airport. I had to work untill the very last moment, even now I’ve got my laptop with me so I can I manage a few things during tour. It’s hard trying to work on tour at the same time. That’s how it is on my side. We’ve got a guy who is doing videogames, the other guy does coding and works a real dayjob at an office space.

End of last year you celebrated 20 years of Mute with a special show, a fitting tribute to two decades. Also two decades in which music and skatepunk in particular changed a lot. What’s your view on skatepunk in 2019?

It’s funny, I was just talking with the guy from No Fun At All right there at the table, they’ve been in it way longer than 20 years and I asked them how was the scene back in the 90’s. He told me it was pretty much the same but it had more of a hype back then, more popular. Nowadays it’s not a hype music, it’s more like the oldschool punkers that were listening to it in the 90’s that are still at the shows. There’s not that much of a younger generation. At least not here in Europe. I see it in South America or in other places. Here it is like people are growing older, they got kids that are older and the parents can go back seeing shows. It’s not like a younger generation. Like it told No Fun At All, I started going to shows in like 1993 when I was a teenager and the shows were crazy. So energetic, the moshpit was huge. That is why it left a mark on my music. A passion for punkrock. I was there at the right time in the 90’s when it was so cool. I’m still loving this music. That’s why we’re still here today, 20 years after.

The show in Quebec was supernice, it like sold out in a few days. We rented extra lights, we wanted to put up the best show.

Skatepunk covers the load actually like it says, punk for skateboarders, Once a sacred marriage now punkrock and skateboarding have evolved. How do you feel about skating these days?

I still skateboard myself. Punk music was more on like snowboarding videos back then, also hip hop on it in the 90’s. Then it turned to hip hop a lot and know it goes all directions. It can be truly anything. Punk rock is still associated with skateboarding.

I still love seeing skateboarding videos.