“We’re a schizophrenic band in a lot of ways,” says lead singer/guitarist Matthew Mayfield, of ‘Bama rock band Moses Mayfield. “We’re five guys with very different pasts and musical histories. But there is a sound that we’ve set out to do that merges two specific worlds — the spacious, big sonic landscape Britpop stuff of Starsailor, The Verve, Coldplay, and even U2 with the more aggressive and heavier stuff like Pearl Jam, Zeppelin, and the more classic stuff that rings that bell in that sense.”
Moses Mayfield first came together three years ago under the moniker “The Stewart-Mayfield Project” and jammed on a mix of modern alternative rock and jazzy electric funk styles. They released a couple of self-produced discs — the Unified EP and a full-length album titled Enough to Let Go — before signing to Epic Records last year. The band’s new 11-song album, The Inside, hits the stores on March 27.
“On the first two little independent things we did, we were just kind of playing for playing’s sake,” says Mayfield, 23. “We didn’t really have any direction. It all just came out. I feel like this time around, our energy was focused. That had a lot to do with Ben Grosse. He helped us focus on the songs and didn’t allow us to do it free-form. We had a sound in mind and he wanted to make sure we got it. I’m really happy with it. In a way, this record is really our first record.”
Over the last year or so, Grosse — known for his work with such slick alt-rockers as Filter, Vertical Horizon, Fuel, and shock-rocker Marilyn Manson — recorded and mixed the band’s Epic debut in Boston and Los Angeles. Such highly dramatic, almost theatrical anthems as “Send Me Out,” “Control,” and lead-off single “Fall Behind” contain all the familiar elements of hard-seasoned radio rock: grand arrangements, high-tech special effects, lung-straining crooning about troublesome relationships and heartbreak, and oversized guitar solos.
“I feel like we know each other as players better now,’ says Mayfield. “Everyone’s grown as a player and that helps. Looking back on how well the creative process worked is the most rewarding thing. We spent over a year and a half working on this record and we really did put all of ourselves into the songs. Listening to it now, it’s really rewarding. We want to make music a lot of space and atmosphere and texture, and I think we did it on this album.”
The frontman and his bandmates — bassist Hans Ford, guitarist Will Mason, keyboardist Matt Taylor, and drummer Wil “One L” Drake — are just off a jaunt supporting Course of Nature. Over the last few months, they’ve shared stages with the likes of Switchfoot, The Fray, and My Morning Jacket. After their weekend in Carolina, they leave for a three-week March tour along the East Coast supporting singer/songwriter Pete Yorn.
Through it all, have audiences outside of the band’s home turf tagged them as the latest hick-rockers from Alabama? Mayfield laughs at the idea.
“I don’t think we fit in with what’s happening in Birmingham,” he shrugs. “I think we have a really different sound. I like that variety. A lot of people outside the South assume that you’re some sort of Dixieland rock band, you’re going to be some sort of Southern rock or twangy act. We got that vibe for sure last year when we were on the road with Switchfoot — from New York to Tempe, people were kinda fascinated by the fact that we were from Birmingham and spoke with Southern accents.”