Mwahaha's new music video, “Rivers and Their Teeth,” is something of a triptych. The first movement features in-studio footage of the band. The middle section is a sort of a tranquil, meditative interlude full of waves and cliffs that evoke Big Sur. The final movement is nothing less than the cinematic representation of a psilocybin trip.
I caught up with band member Ross Peacock while the man was on holiday in Cornwall, England during a brief break before a series of live show. Mwahaha may be from the Bay Area, but don't call them a San Francisco band. They're from Oakland, where they feel something special is afoot.
Noisey: Let's talk about the music video for “Rivers and Their Teeth.” It's a triptych with the third part looking rather like a mushroom trip.
Ross Peacock: It's funny you should say that. [Laughs] The guy who made it, Sylvain Chaussée, is a friend of our drummer's. He lives in Toronto and works for a big film developing company, and he had access to these reels and reels of actual 16mm color film and these two beautiful, old Russian cameras. So Sylvain visited California and he, our drummer, and some friends went to the woods and ate a bunch of mushrooms and filmed the whole thing.
There was an odd, almost fish-eyed quality to the lens during the third section that looks pretty unique.
The camera has multiple lenses on a swivel so you can interchange the lens. He was probably experimenting with a type of fish-eye lens.
Did you help develop the idea with Sylvain?
No, he just asked to do it. He wanted to do that track and asked if he could come and take a little footage of us in the studio. And any time someone wants to do something for you, it's like, "Okay, thank you." [Laughs] We'll definitely be working with him again, because he's a talented dude.
How was the process of making the new record different from past recording sessions?
Man, the album was a crazy one. With our old band, Ned, it was one of those things where people came to our show and said, "Holy fuck, it was really good live." But seven out of ten people would say that the record didn't have the same energy—and I would agree.
The goal with the new record was to make an album that we wanted to take home and listen to. It ends up being a lot harder than you think. We'd come up with songs in the studio, record them and take them home, and it sounded great live, but we wouldn't want to listen to it on record. Eventually, the pieces started fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle. We scrapped a whole album, but we built new songs around ten-second fragments from those [discarded] tracks. It was like painting. We had this one little thing, then threw a lot of stuff at it, and then in the mixing process, peeled shit away.
Did this happen with any part of “Rivers and Their Teeth”?
Yeah, in the middle section of “Rivers and Their Teeth” there's this arpeggio that happens just after the song goes underwater. Originally, the first third of the song and the last third were completely fucking different. We thought that this little thing—the arpeggio—was awesome but the things on either side of it needed to go. So we built the song back up around the arpeggio. The middle section is like a little audio movie.
We didn't really have a technique like this for writing songs until this record. But, we've already started writing a new album and it's going great.
Catch Mwahaha on the April 9 Internet broadcast of Boiler Room in Los Angeles. Their new self-titled album is out now on Plug Research.