nothing,nowhere: “everything is moving in a heavier direction”

Joe Mulherin talks making Pete Wentz scream, beating anxiety, and the heavy future of nothing,nowhere.

nothing,nowhere. is somewhere quite beautiful. “This is my home in Vermont… it’s nice but it’s cold,” smiles Joe Mulherin, flanked by a panoramic window revealing a vista of fir trees. It’s a peaceful scene – not at all what you’d expect from a trap star gone metal. 

Making his name on SoundCloud and Bandcamp back in 2015, Mulherin began the nothing,nowhere. project in his bedroom and quickly found support from all corners of the alternative scene, moving up through big name collaborations (Unforseen, Chris Carrabba, Lil West…) and six successive LPs that peaked with 2021’s Trauma Factory

Always evolving, nothing.nowhere. has grown from Mulherin’s roots in DIY emo rap to the bigger, heavier sounds heard on the crop of new singles put out in 2022 – with recent track ‘CYAN1DE’ aided by screams from Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz. Now fresh from a major European tour, as well as sharing a bill with Metallica at Download 2023, nothing,nowhere. is ready to take on the world again. 

nothing,nowhere. - CYAN1DE ft. Pete Wentz [Official Video]

You must be so happy with the reaction ‘CYAN1DE’ has been getting since you released it? 

Yeah, it’s always kind of scary though. Even though I’ve been doing it for a long time now, it’s scary releasing music because you never know the way it’s gonna go. At the end of the day, if I’m happy with a song, it’s a win for me. But I’m happy that everybody else has been excited about what I’ve been putting out this year, because it’s the type of music that I grew up listening to, and the type of music that I love making. So it’s a win for everybody. 

Talking of music you grew up listening to, you’ve got Pete Wentz on this track… how did that come about? 

Pete was one of the first people to ever reach out to me. You know, anyone in the music industry, in the alternative space, knows Pete Wentz. And I grew up with posters of Fall Out Boy in my bedroom, so I was already a massive fan. He reached out to me in… probably 2016. I remember my manager gave me a heads up. She was like, ‘hey, Pete Wentz wants to talk to you.’ I thought it was a joke. But he ended up calling me and he was just super down to earth, and I ended up signing to his label. He’s just been a really big supporter of what I do from the very start, so for him to actually get on one of my songs is like, the ultimate thing for me. I’m so excited. And he sounds amazing. 

He really does. Did it take much convincing to get him to scream that breakdown? He hasn’t done that for quite a long time.

Yeah, I mean, I don’t think I think the last time he probably screamed was maybe Infinity On High? I don’t know… we’ll say at least a decade ago. So it’d been a long time anyway. But I texted him and I said “I have this song, and I was wondering if you would come out of screaming retirement…”. And he just goes, “I’d un-retire for you”. And that was a wrap. So he was he was really into the idea. And it’s so cool, because it’s a side of Pete Wentz that people haven’t heard in a long time. And selfishly, I wanted to hear him scream again too. So it was awesome.

The track itself has so much to say about alienation and mental health issues. What were you hoping it would get crossed when it landed?

I don’t know… The whole thing was really just organically made. I don’t really stay up at night thinking of premises for songs or anything, I just sort of try and catch them out of the air whenever I can, whenever inspiration strikes. I actually made a fair amount of the song while I was live streaming on Twitch, just having fun. I found this weird synth patch, which is the sort of eerie vocal you hear at the beginning of the song, and I just built everything off of that. And then lyrically, I guess, yeah, a lot of my stuff is very mental health centric. I’m kind of a hermit, as you can tell! [waves at the remote background out the window]. So I just try and speak my truth on every track, with whatever is bothering me at that particular moment. ‘CYAN1DE’ is really just about feeling alone and getting older and navigating adulthood. About the mental hurdles that you have to get over every day when you wake up. 

There’s a line in the track, “I was hoping by my age I would have figured it out…” is that something you still feel? How different do you feel now to when you were starting out?

Yeah, I mean, when you’re younger, you view adults as sort of like omnipotent, unfazed creatures that are capable of handling anything. For me, at least, I just thought that I wouldn’t have to feel any of this stuff when I became an adult. Like, I couldn’t possibly be 30 years old and still have panic attacks, you know? I know that’s very naïve, but here I am, still overcoming these obstacles on a daily basis. And that’s just the reality of it. But when I started nothing,nowhere. I was in a much worse place. So it’s nice to see progression. And that’s all you can really hope for. So I just try and take it day by day. But age, unfortunately, isn’t a magic cure. 

nothing,nowhere. - M1SERY_SYNDROME (feat. Buddy Nielsen) [Official Video]

Take us back to those early days – when you were starting out on SoundCloud – where did your creativity come from? What drew you to music in the first place? 

I think I just was a very anxious and overwhelmed kid. I had too much floating around in my cranium that it needed to go somewhere. Because if I didn’t have a healthy outlet for it, I feel like I would have gone down a more self-destructive route. So I’m really blessed to be able to have a medium that not only helps me deal with what I go through, but it also sort of touches the lives of other people at the same time. One person can’t really change the world, but it’s nice to think that, you know, someone might have found solace in something that you wrote when you were feeling bummed. That’s really cool to me. 

So when I was younger I was fascinated with bands like Fall Out Boy, Underoath and Senses Fail. When I started listening to hardcore it was Gorilla Biscuits and Minor Thread, and I just thought it badass. It wass just…  the coolest thing ever. These guys had guitars and they’re playing shows and jumping off stage, and I wanted to do that. I never thought I’d be able to make a living out of it, but somehow I finagled my way here. It’s been a ride.

Those first couple of years seemed to move so quickly for you. Did it feel like that from the inside? 

I mean, when I look back at the beginning stages of nothing,nowhere. I’m amazed that I didn’t have a mental breakdown earlier. I mean, granted, I did some years later, but that was on me. After years of unaddressed stress and responsibility, if you don’t take time to sort of take a mental shower and deal with these thoughts, you’re gonna pay the price, you know? So I look back at those early years and I can’t believe I made it through relatively unscathed. It was a difficult time, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything because I knew this is what I wanted to do when I was a little kid listening to Gorilla Biscuits in my room. I wanted to do it. And here we are. So I guess gratitude would be the main word. I’m just grateful.

How does playing live change the music for you? Your music almost feels like it needs to be listened to alone – but then you get this amazing energy from hearing it in a crowd too. Do you feel that from the stage? 

Playing live music is like a drug. But it’s like a healthy drug. I remember the first time I ever really felt that rush too. I played a tour with Thrice, and it was terrifying. I was playing to crowds that weren’t familiar with my music, and every night I’d be on the verge of throwing up. Just terrified of being on stage. But something in me just told me to keep going and see it through. So fast forward to the first time I ever felt the adrenaline and I was a headliner, this was maybe 2018, and I was in Buffalo. I heard people singing my lyrics back to me and… it was just indescribable. For someone who started playing guitar when they were 12 years old, who was always an outcast, and never really had a group to rely on… To have that moment where I first felt and heard people sing my words back to me, that changed everything. So yeah, live music for me now is just so important. And the process of making music is dark and it’s performed in solitude. But playing live just makes everything worth it.

nothing,nowhere. - MEMORY_FRACTURE (Official Video)

The Download line-up has just been announced, are you looking forward to sharing a bill with Metallica, Slipknot and Bring Me The Horizon? 

[Laughs] I never, ever, thought I’d be sharing a bill with Metallica! But I’m excited. You know, I’ve been working on a new record and it’s basically done, minus a couple of features. And it’s the heaviest piece body of work I’ve ever made. It’s metal. It’s rock. And I wanted to challenge myself and step into a new space. I know a lot of people will still remember me from the early days of SoundCloud for being “the emo rap guy”. But I am also extremely grateful to have supporters that really don’t care what I do. The last record I released, Trauma Factory, had a little bit of everything on it, and everyone was fine with it. And I know that’s not the case with a lot of artists. So I feel excited about the future, making heavier music, playing these rock festivals and somehow getting to play the same bill as Metallica… that’s killer.

What else can you tell us about the new album? Are these recent singles going to be on it? 

Yeah, I can say that a number of singles that I’ve been releasing lately will be on this record. And it is a very, very heavy record for nothing,nowhere. There are breakdowns. There’s screaming. And then there’s also a fair amount of rapping as well. I just took all my influences and put them in a bucket, coming up with something that I could call my own. I’m really excited because it’s sort of breathing new life into the live show as well. We’ve recruited my friend Blake Hardman, who used to play in Counterparts. And then my other friend, Taylor Carpenter, who plays for a hardcore band called Chamber, is now in the band as well. So everything is moving in a heavier direction. 

Is that always going to be the case? 

I mean, history would show that I keep moving in different directions. My girlfriend and my manager will probably tell you I’m one of the most indecisive people in the world! So yeah, I’m not ruling anything out right now. I just sort of stay in the moment and I make the type of music that makes me light up. Whatever music makes me the happiest in the moment, that’s the type of music that I’m gonna be making.

nothing,nowhere. is confirmed for Download 2023, with tickets on sale now.