Local Austin noise rock outfit Mothman gets right in your face with upcoming album

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UT alumnus Nate Helton (middle), Chris Skiles (right) and Andrew Echavarria (left) make up the heavy metal band Mothman. The band frequently practices in this rehearsal room at the Music Lab on Oltorf.
Photo Credit: Brooke Crim | Daily Texan Staff

Most bands aim to please their listeners, capitalizing on familiar hooks and melodies to craft their signature experience. Mothman sets out to accomplish the exact opposite — they want to make their audience’s skin crawl.

By aiming to create “the most abrasive music possible,” Mothman is placing themselves in a class of their own within the Austin music scene, one that struggles to support hardcore acts. The band is made up of just three members — UT alumnus Nate Helton on bass guitar and vocals, Chris Skiles on electric guitar and vocals and Andrew Echavarria on drums. Between the chaos of each of their songs, listeners will likely find it difficult to comprehend what they’re hearing.

“Most genres are welcoming, ours isn’t,” Helton said. “There are some metal bands that will try to make their music easier to listen to, but we’re the opposite. We’re more interested in that feeling you get just when you catch a rhythm, just when the flow of a song makes sense. Right when that happens, we’re going to change it on you. We’re not setting out to create an easy listening environment, we want someone who listens to our work to be uneasy.”

Their newest album, Answers To No One, is a project more than two years in the making due to an obsession from Helton and Skiles to make each song as complex and engaging as possible.

“Right after we released an EP in 2014, we realized we wanted to make something massive,” Skiles said. “And that something was a 20-song record. Since that day, we’ve been writing every single week. To write 20 extremely technical songs takes so much time and a lot of practice. We never stopped, it just took us that long to ensure everything was as intense as we wanted it, but it was worth all the work.”

Teaming up with Mothman for the release of Answers To No One is Jeffrey Blum, Helton’s longtime friend and co-leader of Red Flag Records. Although Red Flag was originally an avenue for Mothman and Blum’s group Blurry Vision’s split 7-inch, Blum has grown the record label into a channel for all forms of art, from music to poetry.

“Now we’re at the point where we’re helping out friends and not necessarily focusing on just our stuff, which really helps everyone grow,” Blum said. “It feels odd calling it a record label because it makes it sound like a business. But Nathan and I do everything — assemble all of the tapes, work on the tedious stuff together.”

Although Echavarria recorded all of his drum parts in UT’s TSTV studio over a day and a half, the majority of this LP was ground out in the band’s small practice room and in closets to create just the right acoustics and sound isolation to ensure the best recording possible.

Blum said Mothman stands out to him, not just because of his personal connections to the group, but because of the fulfilling music experience the band brings to the table.

“Nathan and Chris did everything themselves,” Blum said. “They had the computer set up, the mics adjusted. They would just sit in a room for 10 hours at a time to nail down each and every part. There’s nothing fake going on — whatever comes out is a true expression of themselves. Each song is them to the core, and that’s all you can really ask for in music.”