For punk rock band Muuy Biien, set to play The Pinhook in Durham Saturday, their hometown of Athens, Ga., was both a blessing and a curse.
Athens has been known for decades as a musical hotbed for young talent, giving such bands as R.E.M. and Drive-By Truckers an outlet for their early work. The issue that arose for Muuy Biien was that the music scene really only offered college rock and alt-country. Muuy Biien became a full-fledged band as a response to that, and soon gained a reputation for energetic performances at house shows around town.
Bass player Parks Miller has been with the band for three years. He views college towns – including the group’s homebase of Athens – as ever-changing.
“The music scene there is cyclical, just like college is, and sometimes one cycle is better than others,” Miller explains during a break in touring. “Sometimes you have college kids taken with a trend, and that’ll be reflected within their music, and I think a lot of that was going on when the band first first started in 2011. There were a lot of synthesizers and world music influences; it was music that had merit, but it all felt so trendy. Muuy Biien has always been more about just playing to our personal influences.”
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The band’s first touring schedule took them on a journey across the country’s heartland and clued them into two truths that many bands found before them: artists can find all kinds of avenues to gaining new fans throughout the US, and you can easily end up wasting time and money if you just load up the van without a plan.
“We did a lot of touring last year – about one hundred dates, off and on – and it definitely helped us open up the West Coast for new fans, as we toured out west twice during the year,” Miller says. “I think touring is very valuable, but it has to be approached with intelligence and purpose, and we’re definitely not a band that just wants to be on the road for two hundred days of the year.”
So with both a new album (2016’s “Age of Uncertainty”) and a newly-signed record contract, 2017 won’t be the year the band takes their foot off the gas. The four-piece group continues to evolve since their early days as an odd noise-rock outfit in Georgia, and they are ready to be even more adventurous sonically with a willing audience behind them.
“We just got this record deal with Autumn Tone, so we want to work with them on making this tour as beneficial for both sides as possible,” Miller says. “Half of the songs that we will be playing during our sets will be newer material than the songs on the album we just released in October. (The new songs) may surprise fans who are a little more closed-minded due to the differences they’ll hear. Our new album takes more risks, and our fans’ reactions just feel like a positive sign for us. It shows us that they are willing to take a risk with us, and it’s positive reinforcement that they will stand behind us when we take on a change again.”
Who: Muuy Biien, with Essex Muro and Drug Yacht
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Pinhook, 117 W. Main St., Durham