My first mistake was interviewing all of the band at once.
The second was doing it while recovering from a cold. Still a little hazy from my illness, I strained to keep up with the crosstalk between the members of The Mysteries, who, within the thirty–minute interview, compared themselves to KISS, MGMT, and Blue Man Group, all to varying degrees of seriousness. The Philadelphia–based, psychedelic rock four–piece spoke with me in Street’s Large Conference Room, while the band munched on clementines left out on the table. When I asked about their stage outfits, all turtlenecks, they all jumped in to respond:
Jacob: “I feel like I’ve bought a new turtleneck for every show”
Anthony: “No matter how organized you are-”
Matt: “I always end up with Justin’s hand-me-downs, too, cuz he buys a new one like the old one. Which is fine. I like your old turtlenecks”
Anthony: “I don’t necessarily like turtlenecks, just like, it’s a cool–”
Jacob: “I– I necessarily like them”
Anthony: “I like them too, but like, as far as like a [belch] like a stage presence”
Matt: “I think it’s kind of like–“
Anthony: “It’s kind of a go–to”
Matt: “It also kind of dates you, as far as a–“
Justin: “Can you add that in the interview as ‘brackets' belch?”
I later learned that it had been weeks since they all saw each other last (“We’re going to Applebee’s after this”). Surprising, given that their chemistry was so fresh. They traded ideas and spontaneously synced up their jokes at rapid speed. I lost track of the conversation each time, getting mixed up in the fog of their mismatched humor, not unlike their songwriting style.
Through the haze, however, the thread of a biography could be found.
Vocalist and guitarist Anthony Marchione and drummer Matt Capacete first met when they were in second grade, an arranged friendship between their mothers. Fans of KISS, they began writing their own music in a similar style. “The lyrics didn’t make any sense,” says Matt, “Basically the content of KISS without the knowledge, or the experience.”
After cutting their teeth on years of playing in the Doylestown music scene, Anthony decided to “get [his] act together, maybe join university.” He attended University of the Arts, where he met bass player Jacob Folk and keys/organ player Justin Bennie.
“I knew Anthony, cause we were in classes together,” says Jacob, “but I thought he was a quiet skater kid I would never talk to. He was way louder than I thought."
They went on to refine their sound over open–mic nights and house shows around Philly, before releasing their debut album in 2015, The Mysteries. Although they built their album off their live performances and the ideas that came from them, it still sounds very off–the–cuff—in the best way of course. Songs will change tempo where you least expect, or Anthony’s vocals will be continuously reverberated over a guitar solo, giving off strong Jim Morrison vibes. He used to have similar long hair to Morrison’s, but has since cut it off.
They followed The Mysteries with New Age Psychedelic Experiment in 2017, wherein they veered closer to surf rock, incorporating some of their vast range of influences while still retaining a spontaneous sound. They never let a single part take hold of a song, rather treating each instrument as valuable. Their latest single, “Wash Away,” is their most sonically distant from their debut album, evoking more The Strokes than The Doors. In it, Anthony sings, “I hope I die, after I get old/ So no one sees me wash away”
“I guess the sentiment behind that,” says Anthony, “is like this paradox: if you die after you get old, no one gets to see you die, which is a good thing. But there’s the other side to it, where you have to see everyone you know and love die. So it’s like, do you want people to see you die, and go through that? Or live past that point, but then you have to see all your fuckin’ family and friends die.”
Near the end of our interview, something still itched in the back of my mind. On the website for their 2015 self-titled album, there is only one name listed under the description: Rodney Jacobs. Google provided little answers, so I turned to the band.
“He used to just be at every show, take our hands, show us things we’d never seen before,” says Anthony, seemingly possessed by the sheer thought of Rodney Jacobs. “If you have to ask who Rodney Jacobs is, then you’ve obviously never met him.”
Known for his high–top sneakers and a North Carolina Tar Heels snapback, Rodney Jacobs purportedly bestowed unto Anthony his first guitar at the age of two and a half (well, a ukulele, it’s in the guitar family).
“If we went to therapy, we could probably figure out who he is,” adds Matt.
Although I may have left my time with The Mysteries with more questions than I began with, I felt that I had witnessed something truly special. Anthony closed out the interview by embracing all of his bandmates, and they proceeded to discuss their next moves. As for what those moves may be, I’d say look to their name for answers.