nothing,nowhere.: “I’m embracing authenticity, trusting my instincts… and staying away from the bullsh*t”

As Joe Mulherin – aka nothing,nowhere. – prepares to drop the heaviest album of his career in VOID ETERNAL, the musician talks his back-to-basics approach, embracing collabs, and working in a barn…

nothing,nowhere.: “I’m embracing authenticity, trusting my instincts… and staying away from the bullsh*t”
Emily Carter
Jonathan Weiner

When Joe Mulherin makes music under his nothing,nowhere. banner, he likes to “pretend that I’m in a Stephen King novel”. That is: to retreat away from “large groups of people” and create in isolation – in this case quite literally in the middle of the woods. On his brilliant new album Joe constructed a studio in his remote barn in Vermont so he could spend his days simply popping out to work, coming back to have a snack, and then getting straight to it again, pretty much all by himself.

“I don’t like myself when I’m in a big city,” he explains. “I don’t like being around that many people, I don’t like inhaling smog, I don’t like traffic (laughs). I’m glad that I have this studio, and I’m never gonna leave it now.”

The result of Joe’s incredibly productive recent alone-time is VOID ETERNAL, released on March 31 and by far the heaviest record of his entire career. Here, the musician dives into his “genre-less” mindset, working with everyone from Pete Wentz to Static Dress, and being inspired by Linkin Park

Your last album Trauma Factory was very intense – did that give you the confidence that you could push things ever further and go heavier on VOID ETERNAL?
“Yeah, I mean, when someone looks at the first nothing,nowhere. songs and then compares it to where I’m at now, if they didn’t know the journey then they would be really confused – like they missed a lot of chapters in the book. But I think that’s always been my ethos: just approaching music from a genre-less perspective. And I made that clear to my fans at the beginning, even song-to-song, things would always sonically sound different. I think with Trauma Factory I really pushed the envelope in putting a bunch of different genres into one body of work, and no-one really batted an eye, so it’s just kind of a testament to the people who support me – I think they really latch onto the vulnerability and the honesty within the music, and the genre is secondary to that. And that’s cool, because I know a lot of other artists feel like they get trapped in a box, or they get stuck within a certain fanbase or scene, and I’ve never really experienced that. I’m really lucky in that regard.”

Why did you decide to record it in the way you did?
“I kind of got burned out on the music industry – I had been going to LA and doing co-writes with producers, and testing the waters out there. And it really wasn’t for me. It almost stripped me of my passion for music, in a way. I’ve always approached music from a solitary perspective, and I just wasn’t interested in meeting random industry people and trying to come up with a catchy chorus anymore. I just wanted to feel like a kid again, and I wanted to make music in the way that I did when I was at my parents’ house when I was younger – just returning to the basics. And I feel like the result is unfiltered, and it’s the truest form of myself because there’s no outside influence, and there’s no expectations, and there’s no worry about monetising a chorus or something. It’s just about being a conduit for the inspiration, and completely putting it into the world, unfiltered.”

With it being such an isolated process, did you ever have to really self-motivate yourself?
“I guess I’ve never had to self-motivate, because I like making music! It’s my favourite thing in the world to do, and I don’t think a kid would have to be self-motivated to eat their dessert (laughs). And that’s how I feel about music. It’s my passion, and even if I wasn’t working on a record or anything, I’d still be making music either way. And that’s kind of how this album came about: I was just making music, and it was like, ‘Well, I guess I have a lot of songs, this is a record now.’ I definitely took time for myself, and I probably had around 40 songs [to whittle down to an album]. That probably sounds crazy to a lot of bands I know, but I’m just always making music.”

The album opens with the song ANX13TY, which sets the tone both lyrically and musically. At what point in the whole process did it come, and when did you decide it should kick things off?
“I had been making a lot of ideas by myself, and I’d been working with [Counterparts guitarist] Blake Hardman, and he plays with me on tour. He’s the most talented metalcore guitarist, and he came up here and we made ANX13TY in like an hour. And we were just laughing, because it was like, ‘This is exactly what I want to do.’ To hear it was so rad. In general this is me looking back at the times where I was truly suffering, and this album was a place for me to put that anger. I had a period of time – and I still struggle with this – where I feel like I had wasted years of my life due to anxiety and depression, and I just needed some place to put all that anger. I had to take that self-hate and direct that into something that wasn’t beating myself up.”

You’ve spoken about wanting to be for your fans like how Linkin Park were for you. How did you approach a goal like that?
“I would never try to be Linkin Park, and I want to approach music in my own way, and I want to be honest about my inspirations and my influences. There’s a lot of country dirt roads here, and I’ll drive my truck to the local supply store and buy chicken feed (laughs), and during that whole day of errands I just listen to all the music that I grew up on, as well as all the stuff that I like right now. And whether I want it to or not, the music that I listen to will always influence the music that I make, and I’m not afraid to wear my influences on my sleeve. And it’s just cool that I can be in a position to inspire kids in a way that Linkin Park did when I was younger.”

You’ve got a ton of really great guest spots – from Pete Wentz to Static Dress – on the album. What is the common thread between them all?
“I grew up listening to post-hardcore, metalcore, beatdown hardcore, a bunch of straight-edge hardcore… I’ve been consuming this music for almost 20 years now. These are artists that I admire and that I love to listen to. All these artists are in my Spotify likes (laughs). I wanna work with musicians that I think are rad, and are good people as well – it’s not some forced industry collab by some suit.”

Given your background in emo-rap, was it important to you to show the alternative scene how cool it is to get other bands jumping on your songs, and you can still make a cohesive album out of it?
“Yeah, I feel like alternative music really missed the mark with collaborations, and they definitely need to embrace it more. You look at any rap album – any Drake album that came out in the past 10 years – and there’s tons of features. There’s features on almost every song! And I saw bands that I admire and I was looking at records going, ‘Why aren’t more people doing this?’ I just saw the opportunity to get a lot of amazing artists on this one project, so it almost sounds like a compilation or something. Everything was done remotely, but it would be cool to get people up here [to the barn] in the future. But technology is pretty wild…”

You’re coming back to the UK to support Fall Out Boy in arenas later this year – hopefully Pete will come out and guest on your collab CYAN1DE, but if you could do live guest vocals on one of their songs, what would you pick?
“Oooh! Saturday, maybe. That would be really cool if everyone on the tour got to go out for the last song or something. I’m really grateful that Pete has been a mentor of mine for a long time, and he’s continued to support me and give me opportunities like the upcoming tour. I’m really excited, and this is gonna be the busiest year of my life, that’s for sure!”

How, then, would you sum up this next chapter of nothing,nowhere.?
“Just embracing authenticity, and trusting my instincts. I’m ignoring any outside, exterior chatter, and staying away from the bullshit. I’m staying true to myself!”

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