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Amen, Brother 

mewithoutYou argues that it's neither emo nor Christian rock

click to enlarge Be! Aggressive! B-E Aggressive (when denying ties to - Christian rock)!
  • Be! Aggressive! B-E Aggressive (when denying ties to Christian rock)!

It's tough to imagine a more perfect emo name than mewithoutYou. The simple sound of the name immediately elicits thoughts of tearful, eyeliner-streaked faces.

"Yeah," admits mewithoutYou drummer Richard Mazzotta, calling from his home in Philadelphia. "It does. It really does, and I think about that all of the time."

It almost sounds like he resents it. Not that it's too surprising contemplation isn't exactly in short supply when it comes to mewithoutYou, which just recently released its sophomore effort, Brother, Sister. You get the sense that drama looms on the horizon.

Take, for instance, the outfit's new disc, which further distances the band from the punk-revival ways found on its 2004 debut Catch for Us the Foxes. The outfit was decidedly more tormented and troubled on its first album, where moments of screaming were more often than not buoyed by catharsis.

"We're all getting older," says Mazzotta. "How much angst-ridden distorted rock can you play before you're like, "I'm too old for this'?"

It's tough to wonder if Mazzotta hasn't already come to grips with this. The drummer says he feels mewithoutYou has successfully ventured into alt-rock waters, swimming alongside such vaunted bands as Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr. and Smashing Pumpkins.

Of course, that's all assuming you don't think of mewithoutYou as a Christian rock outfit, as the spiritual lyrics of Foxes led many to believe.

"To be honest, I don't know what Aaron [Weiss, lead vocalist] is," Mazzotta says. "I know he's a very spiritual dude. He can be caught in his bunk reading the Koran or reading the Bible. I think he's really fascinated with life and death and how God particularly, in this instance, a Christian God plays a part into the passing on.

"I don't like to consider us a Christian band," he adds. "But I know some people would."

While the band can publicly fight off any Christian-rock tag in the media, Mazzotta knows internal struggles or mini-battles within mewithoutYou could endanger the band.

"It could definitely become a divisive thing," Mazzotta says. "To me, any kind of music with an underlying agenda ... I get turned off by unless the band is good. I don't really care to know what people have going on in their personal lives."

Clearly, Mazzotta has thought about this before.

"It's like a catch-22, being in the band," he continues. "Aaron is so full of life and wants to just share all of the experiences with people. But, at the same time, I just want it to be a straight-up rock band."

Mazzotta is quick to point out he's not anti-religion, or even pro-religion for that matter. He says he's all about letting people make up their own minds.

"I like the idea of searching for answers," he says. "That's kind of where I'm at with the spiritual aspects. It can't hurt to explore your options, even if you find there is nothing at all.

"I think that's exciting the idea that nobody knows what's going on when you die."

John Benson

mewithoutYou and Say Anything

The Marquis Theatre, 2009 Larimer St., Denver

Friday, Nov. 10, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $12.50 advance, $15 at the door; visit ticketweb.com.

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