|Origin||Portland, Maine, United States|
|Years active||2004 - Present|
|Labels||Woodson Lateral Records|
Mash Soup is an American funk band formed in Portland, Maine in 2006. The band has quickly become an underground cult favourite among the indie rock scene. Despite no changes in line-up, the band's musical style varies drastically between albums and shows.
Unlike many of the alternative rock musicians playing in their home town of Portland, Mash Soup has a distinguished mellow sound, drawing many references from post-punk and disco periods. Keyboardist and flautist Lisa Hadley once referred to their sound in an interview as "beach party music, sex behind the sandwich shop at sunrise - without all the sand."
Although never breaking into the mainstream, their songs get regular airplay on growing Internet radio sites such as last.fm. Despite three studio albums, the popularity-shy band has never gone on tour, instead preferring small venues such as coffee houses and clubs. They have become well-known for showing up to small towns unannounced and spending time playing for primarily college-aged audiences.
At the age of twenty, guitarist Walter Casey dropped out of Andover College with roommate and bassist Alan Veach. Upon meeting drummer Nick Alexander, the three began playing small shows in local night clubs under the moniker "Night Police." After Veach returned to school the following semester, Casey and Alexander moved to Savanna, Georgia and met bassist Tim Waters. He first recommended his cousin Lisa Hadley for backing vocals, but Casey claimed that the band was complete with a three-piece line-up. Upon further insistence, Hadley was finally given an audition and impressed the band with her unique voice and keyboard improvisation.
Mash Soup: 2005-2006
The first show under the name "Mash Soup" was in the renowned Forsyth Park in 2005. Casey remembered, "We went to the Music Festival in March and just started handing out flyers to all these people, saying 'Oh? You like mandolins? Well that's too bad, come to our show next week anyways'".
The band began to acquire a rapidly-growing following, crowding the small venues so that the band for a while played only in outdoor backdrops such as theatres, parks, or even common busking areas. In October of 2005 the group moved to Seattle, Washington to begin their now signature custom of moving from town to town whenever the crowds grew too large. There they signed with Woodson Lateral Records and began to record their debut self-titled album.
Mash Soup, although not claiming any significant place in charts, quickly became the centre of attention in online review sites and audioblogs. Although they had signed with an independent label and shied away from large-scale popularity that would lead to mainstream success, Casey was notoriously against Mash Soup being referred to as indie rock. The band began popularising Hadley's infamous "Beach party music" phrase, and soon their website logo of a crudely-drawn sandwich covered in beach sand became a short-lived online meme amongst the music community.
Fillet and Release: 2006-2007
The next year saw a drastic change in Casey's writing style. As the other members began to contribute in the songwriting process, the songs became deeper and more ethereal. Hadley and Waters brought significantly noticeable progressive influence from bands such as YES, XYZ and King Crimson. Fans and critics welcomed this development from happy-go-lucky beach music to darker, brooding music. "We're not the only ones growing up; so are our listeners," Waters explained on the band website.
During the promotion of Fillet and Release, Hadley's unusual keyboarding style played a crucial part in the band's new sound, and she began to have her own fan base within the group of Mash Soup fans. Hadley supporters cite her as the primary key to the new, "mature" direction that the group had taken. Meanwhile, fans began to clamour for an official tour, and began to criticise the band's practice of performing in small, relatively unknown vicinities with little warning. Audience pictures and videos of performances became an Internet Holy Grail, and can only be found on sharing sites as the official band website doesn't accept fan material for its gallery.
Invading Your City: 2008-Present
The band's most recent album is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the difficulty of attaining performance material. Staged to appear like a live album, Casey interrupts low-quality recordings of previous songs with banter directed at the apparent audience. The album has been disregarded by critic Alex Moonby as "an ironic anti-publicity stunt."
Since Invading Your City, Mash Soup has resumed its regular course of playing in small towns. Although they have played new material, Casey has no plans on recording a new album any time soon.
Casey has repeatedly credited funk artists such as Sly & The Family Stone and P-Funk as major influences in his work, as well as many obscure nineties lo-fi bands. While Hadley and Waters grew up in Georgia listening to progressive rock, this style wasn't apparent in Mash Soup until their second album, where bass and keys have a much more prominent part. Drummer Nick Alexander often cites Incubus' José Pasillas as his childhood role model, although he has been known to jokingly credit Animal of The Muppet Show.
|Date of release||Title||Record label|
|17 February, 2006||Mash Soup||Woodson Lateral Records|
|6 May, 2007||Fillet and Release||Woodson Lateral Records|
|25 November, 2008||Invading Your City||Woodson Lateral Records|