With a new recording, their sixth, and a new way of looking at things, Mutts might have found a new route to success.
"Object Permanence," the band's latest release, is a musical and lyrical departure — largely because the lead singer has come out of the closet.
Mike Maimone says that, at 31, he's been a little slow to realize that he's gay. He came out to his parents at age 29.
But the singer-songwriter added that his new persona adds new depth to the lyrics.
Maimone plays piano, B3 organ and sings; Bob Buckstaff plays upright bass; and Chris Pagnani is on drums and percussion.
Buckstaff is new to the upright bass, and that also has changed the sound, Maimone said. Pagnani learned his sticks on bands like Genesis, so that makes for an interesting tension as well.
One thing that's not new is that Mutts love Champaign and Champaign bands. They'll perform May 9 at Mike 'N' Molly's, 105 N. Market St., C.
"We're excited to play Mike 'N' Molly's again; this will be our fifth show there," the songwriter said. "We love to see members of Champaign bands in the audience because we really respect them."
The band had been on a bit of a roll for a couple weeks, since a record release show went well. They've also had their first TV appearance.
"The coming out, it's not something I actively pursued, something so comprehensive across my life," Maimone said. "I'm kind of a late bloomer to realize" his sexual orientation, he admits. It might have something to do with the Roman Catholic, conservative family he grew up in.
Maimone said he tried to do his best to be what his family wanted.
Though he had no interest in accounting, he studied it at Notre Dame, his father's alma mater.
"I quit my job as an accountant to do this," he said. "But I still didn't know my self. I played sports, I did all the guy things. It was always in the background."
Now he's trying to approach the new life in the manner of his idols, who include satirists like Randy Newman and early Tom Waits.
He was originally going to be a solo act, but when he met his bass player, he realized they collaborated well. A percussionist was a logical next step.
His coming out and different musical preference add to the edginess of the band, he believes.
But there's even greater tension on the road.
"Those two both love aggressive rock music on the radio, but it gives me a headache. I'll throw in some loungey music to get back at them."
More on Mutts can be found at wearemutts.com.
If you go
What: Mutts, with the Curses
When: May 9 (doors open at 8 p.m.)
Where: Mike 'N' Molly's, 105 N. Market St., C
More information: mikenmollys.com/info/