In a year full of promising debuts, Mighty’s self-titled LP stands out. It captures the gritty energy of the debuts by fellow southern indie rockers All Get Out and Microwave – look no further than lead single “Safe and Sound” – but with a charm all its own. Last week I had the chance to speak to bandleader Angelo Fiaretti about writing this album. The album is out this Friday and if you’re interested you can pre-order it through their label.
Since this is your debut full-length, it’s probably going to be a lot of people’s introduction to your band. For any of those potential new listeners, can you describe your sound in three words?
Probably…”grimy, disappointed trainwreck.” I’ll do trainwreck as one word.
I hope you’re talking about the lyrics of the record, and not the record itself.
Hey, there’s some parts of the record where you want it to sound like a trainwreck. [laughs]
So the bio that came with my copy of the album said you’d been working on it for two years and you scrapped the first version of it.
Well, it wasn’t even a version of this record, it was a completely different record. Completely different songs and everything. We ended up with goals that we wanted for the record and set a bar that we wanted to reach and ended up scrapping the whole record.
I know you also said the song “Undertones” was the one that sparked that shift. Could you talk about how that song came to be and what it did for the record?
So I grew up riding motocross, and I had a family friend who had a track – we’d known them forever and always been around their family riding their track. I ended up seeing a news clip from my town and he was being accused of molestation. He was a gymnastics coach, and so he was spending a lot of time with these younger girls. It was all accusations at that point, but I was so pissed off. My buddy called me and we talked about it for a while and then I wrote that song. After we recorded it, it showed that I could really pinpoint an emotion in my writing and I needed to focus more on that than just trying to write catchy songs. Not that there wasn’t emotion there before, but it was like, “Shit, look, I can do that.” You know?
Yeah. Could you talk about the song “Eugenia?” That one’s another more graphic song, lyrically.
Yeah. [laughs] It very much is. I was on YouTube and some video came up of this popular YouTube star named Eugenia and I got sad watching this video. It was a video of her responding to hate comments and a lot of the comments were, like, pointing out her weight, and she’s, like, skin and bones. I don’t know. It was hard for me to watch her read through these hate comments and try to be cool and make these snarky remarks. Like, first of all, fuck the people who’re hating on you and giving you shit about a problem, like a health issue you have. It made me sad that nobody’s fucking helping her. Like, her mom’s in these videos sometimes. It just confused me and made me sad. I wanted to write a song about it. It’s just my depiction of what I saw, and how these people treated her, and how she said she thought about herself. It’s weird to write a song about someone you’ve never met before, but I had a lot of emotion in that. It just sucks in every way.
Even if you don’t know her, I think most people definitely know someone who’s been in a similar situation.
Oh, for sure, yeah.
It’s really sad. People can be horrible.
Yeah, that’s my whole thing with it. Like, these people on the other side of the camera, they don’t give a shit about you. Stop investing your time in these people who don’t care about you or your wellbeing. You’ve got to look at yourself and be happy with yourself. And it’s the same thing with Instagram models and shit. How many of them stopped doing that and came out and said, “I was depressed, I was really unhappy doing this. The attention never got me anything.”
I think a lot of people just don’t think about the people who make the things they consume as people who think and feel the way they do. When you’re scrolling through your feed, or even if you’re listening to someone’s album, you probably don’t think of them in their personal lives or what they’re doing or feeling outside of that moment you’re witnessing.
It reminds me of an interview I read with the band Pianos Become the Teeth, I’m not sure if you know them. It was sort of funny. They said, like, just because they’re singing about sad things doesn’t mean they’re miserable all the time.
Right, that’s like Julien Baker has that merch that’s like, “Sad songs make me happy” or whatever. Her songs are some of the most depressing I’ve ever heard, and they’re brilliant, but she’s not doom and gloom all the time. [laughs]
I know Daniel Gleason from Grouplove produced the album. Grouplove is a very different band from Mighty. That seems like a very interesting pairing. [laughs] So how did that happen?
Yeah, it might seem a little bit weird on the surface. I knew Dan back when he was playing in a Favorite Gentlemen band, Death on Two Wheels, and he had just started filling in in the band All Get Out. I ended up booking a show for Death on Two Wheels in Pittsburgh, and Mighty played with them. That was in 2012, and we stayed in touch. Later on he told me he always hated my music. But then he heard some acoustic song I put on the internet and he told me he thought I was starting to get it. So everyday he was texting me, “You need to get a producer, you need to do all this stuff, you need to do an EP.” It got to the point where I was just like, “Look, why don’t you just do it?” [laughs] Then he did. He wasn’t planning on it, but he ended up liking it and wanted to do more. We started working on the EP right after the record came out.
That all makes sense. I remember when the Manchester Orchestra and Grouplove split came out, being super confused, like, “Why are these two bands putting out a split?”
Yeah, they’re all good friends. Grouplove played The Stuffing twice, I think. Once for sure I know.
And this goes back to my point about assuming musicians don’t have personal lives, because I would never think that these two bands who sound so different would be friends.
Yeah, right. [laughs]
I wanted to ask about one other song, “Disc Jockey.” That’s one of my favorites and it doesn’t sound like anything else on the album. How’d that one come to be?
That was kind of a whirlwind of shit. My grandma had just died of cancer and I had deconstructed my life in a long-term relationship with a girl I was living with, and that’ll confuse the shit out of you. Like, “Am I doing the right thing to focus on myself?” So I just ended up in a very worried state and I just wanted to feel love. The song came from an off-kilter view of that. It sounds like a love song, but it’s not, really. I don’t feel like it’s about any one person or thing. There’s so much going on in the lyrics about death, self-deprecation, being in love in general, wanting to be in love.
A love song about the feeling and not a person.
Yeah, honestly. Just about being in love with love. I feel like a lot of humans deal with an addiction to affection in some way or comfort. Genuine comfort from other people. That’s where that came from.
Do you have any song you’re proudest of on the album?
I really love the first three tracks. They really covered a sound I wanted to be doing with Mighty from the start. For a while I wasn’t able to do that, since I was working without a band. But once I got a solid group of dudes together and we had that chemistry we were able to pull that off. Definitely the last song we recorded for the record, called “Drip Drop.” I ended up slaving over that one. The band helped out a lot on that one, like, “Hey dude, you’re trying to make that a verse but it’s definitely a chorus.” And I wouldn’t have seen that since I had my head so far up my ass. That song, lyrically and tonally, I’m very, very proud of it.
Good call on the chorus there, because it’s probably the catchiest on the album.
Right, right. Our bassist was like, “Dude, fuck you. Why are you trying to make that the verse? It’s the chorus.” I was like, “I don’t know, man.” [laughs]
What’s next for Mighty?
So right after the album comes out we’re putting out a video for “Drip Drop” that we have filmed. Then we’re going on a run from Nashville to Chicago, playing with Grouplove in Chicago, then coming back down through the Rust Belt to Georgia. After that I think we’re doing another music video, keeping that train rolling. We might do a run in August.
How do you think Angelo from when Mighty first started would view the self-titled album that you’re releasing now?
Oh, I would be trying to make the most chaotically self-indulgent music and rarely actually singing. I have so many demos from before the EP and stuff where I would just scream through every song. I was basically just yelling. Singing but very abrasively. That was a problem Dan had to work out. He was like, “Dude, no one’s going to want to listen to this shit.”
I think on your next record, you should just give yourself like thirty seconds of one song to just go crazy.
Oh man, I love doing that but you’ve got to wait for the right moments or you’ll just burn people’s ears off. [laughs]