Punk-pop quartet Mixtapes have released approximately 48 songs over a year a half on various formats like free downloads, EPs and splits, but their new record “Even on the Worst Nights” marks their first proper full-length album.
Lead singer and guitarist Ryan Rockwell formed the band in 2010 when he and Maura Weaver, who he met while working at Mad Hatter, decided to quit their jobs and start a band.
The duo began writing songs together and rounded out the lineup with bassist Michael Remley and drummer Boone Haley.
This past winter, the four of them hunkered down at a house on Mt. Hope Road where they wrote, hung out and ate a lot.
After taking their time recording “Worst” at local recording studio Moonlight Studios with Eric Tuffendsam, they completed the nostalgia-fueled album in February. It’s now available from the up-and-coming No Sleep Records.
“It feels like taking a bad situation and things you go through and just trying to like, even if you’re upset, try to find the things that make it slightly better,” Rockwell said about the album’s theme. “It was kind of a spin on that. It had its ups and downs, I think, but I think it flowed together well.”
Rockwell cites influences like Dillinger Four, the Hold Steady, hip-hopper Cam’ron and other Midwestern punkish bands, but he really wants people to know he named the band Mixtapes in reference to indie pop group the Promise Ring’s song “Make Me A Mixtape,” and also because it’s the only band suggestion they didn’t hate.
Unlike most of their other output, they had to sit on the record for a while before the release, so they’re really excited to finally unleash 16 brand new songs unto the world.
Rockwell sings on the title track, “Even on the worst nights it tends to be all right,” signifying even though “it’s about missing people whether it’s just when you’re on tour or people who have passed away,” there’s at least hope, like on the album’s final track ‘Mt. Hope’ that Rockwell states sums up the whole thing.
Listen: “ Even on the Worst Nights ”
The melodic acoustic ballad “Golden Sometimes” evokes a lot of other songs, mainly Gotye’s “Somebody I Used to Know.” But it’s pointed out “our song is clearly better than that song,” Rockwell said. “That’s a given. I’ve never even heard that song and our song is definitely better.”
Later this summer, the band will tour the UK for the first time and even play a festival featuring punk legends Descendents, something which Rockwell is in awe of.
“I never thought when we started our band I’d be playing in Scotland,” Rockwell said. “Our goal was honestly to play a few Cincinnati shows when we first started and now we’re playing Scotland and London. And it’s crazy to me people in those cities care and want to hear our songs.”
In a live setting, Rockwell and band channel “a sense of completely unprofessionalism. I take my pants off a lot, Maura and I sit on each other,” Rockwell explains. “I think we care about sounding good but other than that we try not to take it too seriously. I feel like so many other bands take it so seriously and want to be super-professional and rehearsed, but I like the sense of chaos.”
Rockwell will have a chance to demonstrate his lack of couth during the upcoming record release show, Tuesday at Shimmers in Fort Wright, that Rockwell promises will be “sexy.”
With their first real record just released, Mixtapes do not have any unreasonable aspirations.
“If you’re a really hard-working band with not ridiculous expectations, you’ll always be happy and impressed because everything seems pretty awesome,” he said.
Of course, there might actually be a couple of desires.
“I think we’d like to become millionaires. Get lots of women,” Rockwell jokes. “Other than those two things, I guess just keep on doing what we’re doing and hopefully make it bigger and bigger. We’re pretty humbled by the whole thing I’d say, but if it keeps on going how it is, that’d be pretty awesome.”