John Maus performs in The Current's studio

John Maus performs in The Current's studio
John Maus performs in The Current's studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
John Maus performs in The Current's studio (music + interview)
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| 00:23:07
  • John Maus performs in The Current's studio (music + interview) 23:07
  • John Maus - Pure Rockets (Live at The Current) 03:17
  • John Maus - Episode (Live at The Current) 03:50
  • John Maus - Touchdown (Live at The Current) 03:41
  • John Maus - Quantum Leap (Live at The Current) 02:52

Thank goodness for John Maus. He's far from a household name, although his friendship and collaboration with Ariel Pink may be an outstretched hand toward the zeitgeist. That's not the point. Whether you know his music or not, you could learn something from this tender, radical pop artist.

Even after releasing four albums (with Addendum, a fifth, to come on May 18), Maus and his music seem misunderstood. His synthesizer music is tagged as experimental, but similar descriptions with more positive connotations might include "daring" and "complex." His reputation is that of a tough or unyielding interview, but as Austin Gerth found in reporting for The Current, that's far from the case.

Talking with Andrea Swensson, Maus is quick to praise several things — including his hometown, Austin, Minn. "I'm purple and gold," he says, adding that the idea of the North fascinates him. His bandmates — including his brother, Joe — are from Minnesota. After spending years in LA and Hawaii, Maus moved back to Austin in 2011, because according to him, "Minnesota is the best in the universe."

Nature, in particular, is one reason he loves his hometown. It's the music of the single highway and chirping birds. But he has to make a caveat: "I stay up late sometimes, and so I hate those birds in the morning. They remind me it's time to get up, and I haven't even gone to bed yet."

Use the audio player above to hear John Maus's music and thoughts on building his own synthesizer, releasing his album Addendum, and playing with a band.

Band Members

John Maus - vocals
Joe Maus - bass
Jonathan Thompson - drums/drum machines
Luke Darger - keys/synthesizers

Songs Performed

"Quantum Leap"
"Pure Rockets"

"Touchdown" is from John Maus's 2017 album Screen Memories; "Quantum Leap" is from Maus's 2011 album We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves; "Pure Rockets" is from Maus's 2007 album This Is Real; "Episode" is from Addendum, a Screen Memories companion piece that comes out on May 18. All albums available via Ribbon Music.

Hosted by Andrea Swensson
Produced by Jesse Wiza
Engineered by Michael DeMark
Visuals by Nate Ryan
Web feature by Cecilia Johnson

External Links

John Maus - official site

Related Stories

  • Album Review: John Maus - We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves The ultimate internal contradiction in Maus' work, the irresolvable, mysterious conflict that catalyzes and animates his entire aesthetic, is its the ineffable way it draws so heavily on the pastwhile also opening up unfamiliar and potent new musical landscapes.
  • John Maus performs in The Current studio In the vein of Sam Beam (of Iron & Wine) and Alexis Krauss (of Sleigh Bells) John Maus is the latest in a recent slew of teachers that rock. The Austin, MN native teaches Political Philosophy and Theory at the University of Hawaii while working towards a PhD in Political Science.

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