Into The Light With Missio

On an early evening in March, David Butler and Matthew Brue were prepping for a private, intimate show in the Fairfax Village area of Los Angeles. The performance space was as warm as the day (climate change, kids) but one assumes that a band based in Austin, TX would be used to such things. At the end of the evening, a certain theory rang true: Almost everything that is done in the dark eventually comes into the light.

Welcome to the light, Matthew a tie and David Butler: Missio.

Not that Matthew and David were doing anything shady with their time, it’s just that music and songwriting – at least where Matthew was concerned – served a more personal, emotionally liberating purpose coupled with – oddly –  no interest in actually performing those songs.

“I spent a lot of years holding things in and it caused a lot of emotional damage to myself and to the people around me.” Matthew explained. “And when I started writing songs it was almost like my outlet and diary. To be honest, when the project started, I didn’t want to play live. At all. I was literally writing a couple of songs for myself and my friends and potentially for some sync placements on TV or film or whatever. But I did not want to play live.”

But live now happens and fans of Missio’s affinity for deep blue, alt electronic tones on the hip hop side of the street are glad for that. As a band, Missio is a mere 2 ½ years old: David and Matthew met while both were doing other musical things, wound up working on a batch of songs together and found a commonality between them. David explains, “The very, very beginning of Missio started with him [Matthew] as a solo artist and me as a producer.” Soon that commonality warranted more which included becoming roommates and that ‘more’ is working for them as well as connecting with listeners, particularly via their optimistically defiant anthem, “Middle Fingers.” The connecting is a genuinely important aspect of this ride they are on which has found them on tour with K.Flay and playing South By Southwest in the past while the future includes being featured on the SiriusXM Alt Nation Advanced Placement Tour with Coast Modern, 888 and Sundara Karma, a fistful of festival dates (Lollapalooza, Hangout Fest, Firefly and more) as well as a one night only gig with Muse and 30 Seconds to Mars. “I now see that there’s people who are listening to my lyrics and there’s a lot of good influence that we can have actually meeting some of these people.” Matthew added.

So on this unseasonably warm March day in Los Angeles we talk. Their debut album titled Loner is due for release on May 19th on RCA Records. David admits that he adores his dog – an Australian Shepherd/Poodle – and that he cannot multi-task: where music is concerned, he tends not to see much live music because he’s too focused on creating it. Despite his history of addiction or perhaps because of it, Matthew approaches being a musician like the serious business that it is: respecting that you can’t be wasted and perform well for folks who care enough to come to your show. It’s good to hear who Missio are and why especially in their own words:

Music mates, roommates:

Matthew: I was living in an airstream trailer at the time and he [David] and his wife had just recently talked about wanting to add another roommate in. I jokingly was like, “I’ll move in.” He was like, “Well, maybe.”

David: We were talking about life when you’re recording, just chatting on a break and I was like, “Yeah, my wife and I are thinking about starting to look for a roommate. But we’re super picky about it. We’re kind of on the fence because we don’t want someone random, you know?” And he’s like, “Dude, I’ve been thinking about moving out of my airstream.” And it just was like, “All right.” So it was perfect.

The music…it’s electronic, it’s eclectic: These days, does it even matter what you call it?

 Matthew: If you look at what’s happening on the radio, on blogs, anywhere, everyone is coming together…genres aren’t really a thing anymore unless you go on the drastic spectrum of folk music or something. But I love what’s happening now with the hip hop scene mixing with a lot of the electronic stuff. You’ve got guys like Ben Staples doing stuff with James Blake and it’s incredible. And I don’t know what you would call that music.

To me, when people hear the music, the first thing that they say is not, “Oh man, this is awesome electronic/alternative music.” They go, “Man, this song is awesome.” So it’s not a really big deal to me, personally.

Artists tend to fall in one of two camps: Either you simply write or you use your life as creative fuel:

Matthew: I’m a very firm believer in writing from experience because I think there’s a vulnerability there and I think people can read through bullshit. And when you’re singing about X, Y and Z and there’s no attachment or experience behind that, I think it just kind of fades away. So, obviously, it’s a lot tougher to share some of the things you’ve been through and deal with to a wide array of an audience, but our goal is to reach people. And the only way to do that is by sharing some very raw stuff. I love songwriting and I have to do it.

Producer…Why you do what you do:

David: I really do enjoy helping people get their sound out and better defining it, helping them say what they want to say. It’s kind of a weird little corner of the world but it’s hard when you’re an artist to hear yourself…you can’t hear yourself without a lot of biases, so I like to come in and help with that. And that’s what I did for years before this and that’s how we first met – his [Matthew] old band. I produced his old band so that was the initial relationship.

At the end of the day, it’s so hard to make it in the music business. I encourage everybody that I work with, you’ve gotta make this in a way that you love it. So at the end of the day, just make something that you love, that represents where you are at that exact moment. And don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. And you have to make music that, at the end of the day, if no one ever listens to it, no one likes it, that you can be proud of what you did and what you said and the risks you took. Otherwise it comes off, just, vanilla, you know?

Compare and contrast: South By Southwest 2015 vs 2017:

Matthew: Oh, gosh. We played a hotel show for, maybe, 10 people [in 2015].

David: That’s a very, very generous estimate. If you count the people walking in and out of the lobby. Now we play with a drummer, so at that time it was us – we had just gotten out of the studio and booked some South By shows and it was like, “Oh, gosh. Let’s figure out how to do this.” So we almost approached it more like DJ’s at that point in time where we were still playing a lot of stuff live, but it was just the two of us. Gosh, a night and day difference.

Matthew: Yeah. Playing Pandora House this year was pretty incredible. RCA, that was incredible. KGSR in Austin is a staple.

David: Yeah. The quality of the shows were very different. They’re just the shit.

Matthew: They had a masseuse. It was amazing.

Speaking of Austin, what do you love about the city?

Matthew: I’ve traveled around the U.S. a lot and there’s L.A. and New York, obviously, but they’re massive cities so, of course, there’s going to be tons of food. Austin is still pretty small and the amount of food – not just food but quality restaurants – is mind-blowing.

David: Yeah. There’s an independent, artistic vibe to that city that I think creates a pretty communal vibe. As it’s growing, that’s probably the number one thing that the city’s battling. It has this very local kind of vibe. All the cool restaurants are local restaurants. Chains don’t really do well in Austin. I like that spirit, you know?

So…what’s this about Muse?

David: It’s about blowing my mind is what that’s about. I’m a super Muse fan, fan boy so that’ll be cool.

Matthew: It was funny, our manager texted us one day and said something along the lines of, “Muse. 30 Seconds to Mars. Given.” And we were like, “What?” And he was like, “Playing with them.” And we were like, “What are you talking about?” So nonchalant about it.

Past songs like “I Don’t Even Care About You,” “Can I Exist,” “Twisted” and “Zombie” have been scrubbed from streaming services. We call this a “musical reset.”

David: So the “Zombie” one was an early, early cover and we’ve redone “I Don’t Even Care About You” which will be on the record, so there’s a new version that’s a little different and much improved. So those will be coming back and it’s just a part of the record so we’re releasing them as a package.

Matthew: Yeah. We have a very intense fan base that has made us well aware every day that they are no longer on the internet.

Random facts and roommate talk, Missio-style:

Matthew: Random fact is that I was born with two colors of hair: Red and brown. People think I’m a giant douchebag and that I do this intentionally. I do not. I have a nickname: Two-Tone. And my mom screamed when she took the hat off when I was a kid because they thought that the doctors had messed my hair up or something like that. And it is just all natural.

David: Interesting fact about me? I guess that probably one of the most difficult parts is being away from my dog, who I joke with Matthew all the time. I have a dog named Buffalo and she’s adjusting to me not being home. But my awesome wife takes care of her. 

The joke, not every day but a couple times a week, my wife will send me a video or a picture of my dog and I’ll say, “Hey, do you miss Buffalo?” And he’ll say, “I haven’t thought about her once.” And I’ll be like, “Well, I just want you to know that she loves you and she’s missing you terribly.”

Matthew: Yeah, let me clarify: He misses his wife first. And then Buffalo.

David: Oh, yeah. But it’s extra hard because my wife comes and sees me on the road and stuff. I can’t see my dog forever.

David and Matthew’s early evening performance (accompanied by a live drummer) was a solid one but a mere taste of what Missio can flesh out on stage as they brought “Middle Fingers,” “I Don’t Even Care About You” and the heady “Bottom Of The Deep Blue Sea” to full bodied life and it’s not every day that you hear lyrics like, “Killing Darth Vader with a motherfucking kick drum.” Oh yes, that happened.

As of April 1st all tour systems are GO for Misso, so see their tour dates below and get ready to connect and throw a few middle fingers in the air.