If Recognizer, the latest musical project from singer-guitarist Mike Mullins of Benton sounds a little familiar, well, that's because it is.
After spending time with his metal-leaning trio Mothwind, Mullins, 43, started easing back toward the alt-rock sound of his former outfit, Underclaire, after reuniting with his pal, drummer Steve Cook.
Recognizer Record Release Show
Opening acts: Adam Faucett, New Motto
9 p.m. today, White Water Tavern, 2500 W. Seventh St., Little Rock
"I ran into Steve, who used to play in Underclaire, and he had just moved back into town and he was looking to jam," Mullins says. Though he loves Mothwind's heavier music, Mullins says he was looking to work with textures similar to his old group.
"That's just my natural writing style," he says. "Underclaire was my first real band and this is the same type of thing but, obviously, with different people around me. There are some variances there, but it's the thing that comes naturally to me.'"
Cook and Mullins continued jamming together and started looking for other members, with Recognizer solidifying into a quartet after the addition of bassist Michael Mullens and guitarist Jesse Flatte.
The band will celebrate the release of its self-titled debut album with a show tonight at White Water Tavern. The first 15 people at the door will receive a free copy of the CD, Mullins says. Adam Faucett and New Motto will open.
The group began recording the nine-track Recognizer album at Little Rock's Wolfman Studios in March, with mastering work done by Barry Poynter at Poynter Studios. The result is an album of hard-driving, emphatically tuneful songs built around Mullins' plaintive vocals and with deft production touches courtesy of the band and co-producer Jason Tedford.
"There's a little complexity there that you don't normally hear in indie rock," says Flatte of what attracted him to the band. "I'm a fan of -- maybe more so than the other guys -- effects-driven, ambient stuff. And Mike, obviously, likes solid rock 'n' roll songs, but he likes to spice them up with sparks and flourish, and that appeals to me."
Flatte says having Tedford behind the board was a bonus.
"When it comes to production, Mike and I probably have a little bit different tastes," he says, "and we argue about small stuff, but I feel like that's a positive. Tedford was incredibly helpful. Having someone from outside the band who was not so close to the music give their opinion was invaluable."
Recognizer opens with the swirling keyboards, drums and effects of the short instrumental "Reward || Attention" before seamlessly segueing into the sweet crunch of "License to Kill."
"A lot of those ideas were just things we would do live to create tension or to give people a break," Mullins says of tracks like "Reward || Attention" and the trippy "Memory || Motivation," which features dialogue from a 1955 medical film of an artist who had been given LSD. "They're electronic elements that we wanted a little bit of in this band."
Mullins was surfing Vimeo when he came across The Life of Death, a touching, thoughtful student film by Dutch animator Marsha Onderstijn. The images and theme matched perfectly with "License to Kill," so he reached out to Onderstijn. With her approval and only a little bit of editing, Mullins created a video for the song with her film. The results can be seen at recognizermusic.com.
"It's an amazing film and she was like, 'Sure, I don't mind at all,'" Mullins says. "It just seemed too perfect, the synchronicity of it, not to use."
Weekend on 10/05/2017
Print Headline: Recognizer summons back to musician's former sound