Mudvayne Hiding In Secret Studio With Guitars, Calculators

Costumed metal band recording by the numbers for follow-up to L.D. 50.

When Mudvayne’s Ryknow met one of his musical idols, it was a dream come true. When said idol gave the bassist props right back, he nearly had to pinch himself.

Although Ryknow wouldn’t disclose his hero’s identity, he recounted the meeting with pride.

“I asked him, ‘What’s your favorite song to play?’ He looked at me and said, ‘Right now, ‘Nothing to Gein’ (from Mudvayne’s L.D. 50.) And I was referring to his album, and he looks to me — and I admire this person — he looked to me and said one of our songs. That was kind of like a realization for myself that we’d kind of landed, you know.”

Ryknow’s putting it mildly. In a single album, four guys from Peoria, Illinois, wearing costumes and horrifying makeup, made people look past their screaming-for-attention physical appearance and embrace a frenetically paced rhythmic assault topped off by singer Kud’s bloodcurdling wails. L.D. 50 has sold more than 500,000 copies since its August 2000 release and garnered the group a Video Music Award for “Dig.”

And Mudvayne are hoping for bigger and better with their next album, which they’re recording near Minneapolis with producer David Bottrill (Tool, Peter Gabriel). Ryknow said he and his bandmates are drawing on what they’ve learned about themselves over the past couple of years to write material for their new LP, due November 19, according to an Epic spokesperson.

“We’ve paid attention to things we enjoy about ourselves when listening to the songs we write and the interplay between each other. We’ve tried to expound on some of those ideas, [some of which] are melody-driven, and some are rhythmic and primal-oriented. So we’ve tried to expound on some of those things that we really enjoy about each other.

“It’s not going to be light years away from where L.D. 50 was,” he added. “We’re not a changed band. We didn’t go and get a band facelift, but at the same time there’s some things that I think are pushing our envelope. And we’ll always try to do that no matter what.”

Despite the envelope pushing, one thing that’ll remain constant is Mudvayne’s commitment to math metal — their unique way of writing songs that focuses on the numerical patterns that arise from stringing a few simple riffs together. Consider Mudvayne the John Nash of nü-metal.

“It starts out being a riff, and you start trying to figure out what time signature is it going to go into and how are we going to split it up,” Ryknow explained, or at least attempted to explain. “And then all of a sudden you have a 4/4 into a 5/4 into a 3/4 pattern. Well, OK, cool. We’ve got a 4/4, 5/4 and a 3/4 pattern. Well, how does that split up? Well, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Well, that’s a 12/8 measure. So now you create a 12/8 measure in another portion of the song that complements that 3/4, 5/4, 4/4. It’s just playing with some numbers.”

OK, then.

Somehow, these guys find this rock-by-numbers method actually enjoyable. (They must have loved those SAT questions that asked for the successor in a series of seemingly random numbers.)

“We find writing to create themes fun, and it can bring a little bit of comedy in when you use something only once in a song because it was hinted at earlier on in the song by some other pattern. We find that funny,” Ryknow said. “We might be the only ones who find that funny.”

Other than the approximate location of the studio, Ryknow won’t say much about the recording process — not how many, if any, songs are finished or what he and his bandmates are intending on titling the album. He did, however, explain their reasoning for fleeing their friends, wives and girlfriends for a sort of self-imposed exile in the shadow of the Twin Cities.

“If you look at art as pure energy — and what we’re trying to create here is just pure energy — any time you bring someone else into that, there’s energy involved. And there’s a transfer of energy involved. I don’t think any of us are hip to that. We’d like to keep it kind of clothed. So we try to go to the real far away places that would be a pain in the ass for somebody to get to. And I think that’s what we’ve done out here, so it’s great. We love it out here, and I think everybody else would not. So that’s perfect for us.”