Despite being in his mid-twenties, it seems musician Evan Mui has been a perennial member of Lake Worth's music scene for ages. With stints in Palm Beach County favorites like Guy Harvey and the Dewars, Mui has more than cut his teeth. His newest project Wake Up has given Mui a chance to spread his wings and strike out on his own -- and it looks like he's struck gold, as well.
Wake Up's blend of chiming hooks, Superchunk-y guitar riffs over Mui's crackling J Masics-ish vocals has been raising eyebrows. His band has landed on local label Decades Records (home to other notables like Band in Heaven and Jean Jacket), and with successful stints at CMJ and a current tour with Surfer Blood, it seems like breakout stardom is within reach for Mui.
The band is set to release its debut seven-inch EP, Forever Home, in early March and the record is already getting play from national outlets. When County Grind caught up with the affable, soft-spoken artist, he couldn't have been more modest about his role in the band. Although Mui wrote and sings in all the songs he calls it a "collaborative project."
At the time Mui was traveling with his bandmates to their gig at Tallahasse's Club Rehab. Surfer Blood drummer TJ Schwarz was along for the ride. Lucky for Wake Up, Surfer Blood is sharing its drum kit and other equipment with the guys to save room on the road. The group is traveling its 15-date tour through Orlando, up to New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York and back down to Jacksonville in a Chevy Suburban. Mui describes it as a "family outing," of sorts.
Assuredly, there was a family vacation vibe wafting in the air, because while we spoke to Mui he complained of flatulent aromas festering in the SUV. "That's disgusting," he stated laughing it off. Mui tells us that his bandmates and him have been best friends for years and that the group effuses "fantastical band dynamics."
Wake Up presents the first time Mui has fronted a band. He admits that playing bass in bands such as Guy Harvey was great, but that doing his own thing is more rewarding. When asked if he feels more pressure during performances because this is his vision.
"The only pressure I feel is my own sense of perfectionism, but the band is pretty loose altogether. Mui points to the idea that although he did write all the songs, the group is much more a team project, constructed amongst a group of lifelong buds. "We are all very agreeable and easy to work with."
Wake Up has a new addition for this tour, and it's another familiar face from the local music scene: Suede Dude's lead singer Bryan Adams (no relation to the alt county singer Ryan Adams). Fort Lauderdale's Adams is Wake Up's newest drummer, joining Mui, vocalist and guitarist Bobby Yapkowitz, and bassist Austen Bemis. Mui explains that Wake Up and Adam's over-fuzzed rock group Suede Dudes has a pretty serious "band bromace," and called going on tour with Adams, "serendipitous." "He's like a Ringo, totally elegant and graceful and with mustache," jokes Mui.
Wake Up will be touring the Northeast with Surfer Blood through March 1.
Remaining February Dates
19 - West Columbia, SC - New Brookland Tavern
21 - Kingston, NY - BSP Lounge
23 - Burlington, VT - Signal Kitchen
24 - Providence, RI - The Met
25 - Hamden, CT - The Space
26 - Northampton, MA - Iron Horse
27 - Asbury Park, NJ - The Saint
01 - Brooklyn, NY - Glasslands
02 - Charlottesville, VA - The Southern
03 - Richmond, VA - Camel
04 - Greensboro, NC - Blind Tiger
05 - Jacksonville, FL - Jack Rabbits