Borrowing its name from the carousing, profligate brother in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's classic novel, The Brothers Karamazov, Mitya (due tonight at Larimer Lounge with Young Analogs and Sparkle & Burn) has spent the last handful of years evolving its sound and bringing together angular guitar textures with driving rhythms and dark, moody edges. At times the group evokes Pavement reigning in its excesses, and at others Mitya sounds like an upbeat Elephant 6 band.
Guitarists Chris Kennedy and Brent Hinckley met each other in middle school, but never had a band until the two got together with bassist Chad Waleik, one of Kennedy's co-workers. The initial incarnation of the band didn't work out, but then Kennedy met drummer Dan Datema while they were both in graduate school studying political science -- a subject that informs a bit of the band's lyrical content. We recently spoke with the band about its songwriting process and reconciling the realities of adulthood with maintaining a creative life.
Westword: Considering you took your name from a literary source, do you approach your songwriting in a literary fashion, and are there themes you explore in your music?
Chris Kennedy: I don't know what it is that unlocks the magic of the right kind of melody. But when you hear it, you know it. It doesn't always mean it's hooky or poppy, but there's just something about the way they flow together.
I don't think most of our songs have a deliberate sense. We don't sit down and say, "Alright, we're going to write a really dark, atmospheric song, and Brent is going to play a Johnny Greenwood solo."
Dan is the only one who's still in his twenties; the rest of us are in our early thirties. It's kind of this figuring out next steps, not exactly sure, none of us have settled on where we're going to be forever so it's a lot about exploring and feeling lost sometimes and having moments of feeling you've got it together.
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Dan Datema: It's that feeling of transition and also a feeling of openness -- let's see what happens. I think that's the way we approach the music: Let's see what happens next; it doesn't have to be a certain thing.
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Brent Hinckley: Now that we're getting a little bit older, we have more of a sense of mortality. So while there's that openness, there's this reality of suburban America and what is supposed to come next? What's going on right now? What am I allowed to do? It's also about becoming comfortable with becoming an adult.
CK: I think it's also about being able to let go of the things that make you feel stuck. The music is the expression that's supposed to be the escape from real life, right? But you always write about your experiences, so it's kind of overcoming in some ways -- which doesn't mean you suddenly end up successful and have everything you've ever wanted, but it means you've learned to live with the uncertainty.