Mushroomhead is one of the most widely recognized nu-metal bands around today. Their outrageous imagery drew comparisons to Slipknot however it’s widely accepted that Mushroomhead was formed much earlier than Slipknot, back in 1993. Discovered by Eclipse Records in 1999, the band’s intention was to create an eclectic blend of extreme music combined with a vaudevillian stage show that was bound to provoke a reaction, turn some heads and leave an impression. From their first concert together in the fall of that year, it was obvious that Mushroomhead would become far more than a side project. It was to become undisputedly, Cleveland’s top drawing alternative metal band.
Blending sonics and attitude borrowed from metal, techno/industrial and rap, they managed to attract a varied and demographically diverse crowd with their thundering tribal drums digging a heavy groove, with big, snarling guitars and keyboards filling in all the cracks with dramatic swells of sound. Taking a cacophony of music, vocals and samples, Mushroomhead shapes it into memorable tunes that are at once sharply satirical, broadly tongue in cheek, and infinitely different. Described by the Cleveland Plain Dealer as “sophisticated, juxtaposing dense, staccato, Ministry-inspired tempos with spacious melodic passages and dark lyrics that don’t merely rely on repeated swear words,” their music stands on its own, but to fully appreciate Mushroomhead, they have to be experienced live. Combining outrageous costuming with the psychotic, exotic, neurotic and erotic, their shocking stage spectacle which always ends with a rave set, lives up to the music. Pushing the limits of rock theater to the max – their live show is truly an event and a multi-sensoral experience. What gives the band more substance and lasting appeal however, is their musical range. “Everybody fights for what they want in a song,” says Skinny, Mushroomhead founder “and pretty much everyone gets their way – that’s our strength. A song will start out sounding like metal until a cool piano part comes in or the turntables turn it into a rap song. We all bring our own tastes to the mix which gives the music diversity.” Alternately, it is in the costumed chaos of their writhing live performances that the band members seem most alike and united. “When you step on stage in front of people, you know they’re there for the release. Its what we are there for as well and we try to give our fans everything they came for and then some,” adds frontman J Mann. It is these elements of risky and often risque’ in both their music and performance that have given Mushroomhead , a name, a reputation and a massive, rock solid fanbase throughout the upper Midwest.
They have performed with Marilyn Manson, Type O Negative, Misfits, Anthrax, Down, Gwar, Genitorturers, and although they are nothing like them. They headlined the 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000 Cleveland World Series of Metal, having national bands such as Drain STH, Crowbar, Overkill, Six Feet Under, Pissing Razors, Nile, and many others open up for them. They have grown into a regional phenomenon, easily and consistently selling out shows with up to 2500 capacity, a feat many national acts with major record-label backing and big publicity machines often can not duplicate.
XX, Mushroomhead’s national debut, is an offering which combines the best of their independent releases in remixed form with a new keyboard interlude, “Epiphany.” Each new Mushroomhead album has one. Diverse yet cohesive selections from their self titled local debut (1995), Superbuick (1996), and M3 (1999), showcase the band’s musical breadth as it slips from techno to the brink of industrial metal delivering songs, complete with verses, hooks and choruses. From the band’s creative use of spoken word samples on “Episode 29” to the track “Bwomp,” which throws it all down, careening from an industrial-meets-hardcore opening through rap, ambient, dub and techno sections in a breathtaking roller coaster ride, XX lets the music speak for itself. Rocking the subconscious, they are a universe onto itself. No doubt, Mushroomhead didn’t become Ohio’s biggest draw by worrying about offending anyone.