SONG/VIDEO PREMIERE: The Mortal Prophets Drop Dark Genre-Bending New Single “Stomp The Devil”

Today, The Mortal Prophets, the no-wave-meets-psych-rock musical project helmed by NYC artist John Beckmann, are premiering their debut single and video with Glide entitled “Stomp the Devil,” taken off their debut EP of the same name (due July 8). 

With The Mortal Prophets, John Beckmann and his evolving band of genre-bending roustabouts dig deep into America’s primal scream. Beckmann channels pre-war blues legends such as Lead Belly, Blind Willie Johnson, Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, via the experimental ethos of German Electronica, groups such as Neu!, Cluster, Harmonia, Brian Eno, David Bowie and Suicide. The project’s forthcoming debut EP, crafted last year,  was produced by David Sisko, and features collaborations with legendary guitarist Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart, Gods, and more). 

Their new track also comes alongside a haunting black-and-white music video, filmed at Untermyer Park and Gardens. “The Mortal Prophets video [for ‘Stomp the Devil’] is a detour into the realm of a certain form of post-modern gothic. It is almost a sci-fi expansive space with shadows of the past blurring into a post-apocalyptic future,” noted filmmaker Michele Civetta.

Prior to the release of “Stomp the Devil,” Glide spoke with Beckmann about his forthcoming EP, and the impact of his artistic background and work with Gary Lucas on his new project.

What is the inspiration behind “Stomp The Devil,” What do you want your fans to take away from this video? What does it mean to you personally?

Being in lockdown during Covid gave people some time to reflect on what’s important, or at the very least to have some extra time to experiment with other activities that have been on their minds. That has certainly been my story. I started messing around with different DAWs to the point that I had a bunch of demos that I felt were potentially good enough to record seriously. I went back to an album called “American Primitive Vol. 1, “produced by John Fahey’s record company Revenant Records. That album always was somehow in the back of my mind for some reason. It’s a series of very early recordings of pre-war blues. It truly has some amazing music on it, almost alien-sounding in nature. In a way I chose that as a starting point, to distance myself from myself if that makes any sense. To open a door onto something that wasn’t me, that wasn’t my nature, or my history or experience. I’ve always loved the early blues music, it is so real, so profound.

I started experimenting with just the lyrics to a more modern electronic sound. I grew up listening to Brian Eno and his experiments with the German group Cluster, and Neu! The industrial music coming out of England, Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, and of course the American group Suicide, Bowie, of course.

We are living through a cultural apocalypse, ‘Stomp The Devil,’ of course, is about wrestling with your own personal demons, everyone has them, and it’s a metaphor for that struggle. The other songs on the EP are songs that are very old, Swing Low, Nobody Knows, John The Revelator, and Good Olde Way, are such classics of the black American experience, they’ve been stuck in my head forever. I see the EP as a kind of exorcism, as a starting point to move off from, to be able to move forward. I had to start there, it’s hard to explain.

Can you share a bit about your songwriting process? How did Gary Lucas come into this project? 

The words just came to me one day and I just wrote them down, and then I worked out the structure and a rough demo. David Sisko (producer0 is friends with Gary, so once we discussed the concept, he felt that Gary would be a natural fit, and we met, and he liked it and jumped in. You basically, just let Gary do his thing, and off he goes. He’s so easy to work with.

How has being a designer influenced the music you make? Can you talk a bit about Axis Mundi? 

The short answer is no, in my mind they are completely unrelated endeavors. Design is essentially

creative problem solving for a client. Though the approach to structuring music may be similar in the sense of building up a series of layers. Design is client-driven, and I don’t think it’s a true art form in the sense that music is. You can make music by yourself and for yourself. For design, you need a client and a problem to solve.

I started Axis Mundi in 2004, we are an interdisciplinary firm that cuts across various scales, from furniture to interiors and small-scale architectural projects. Primarily we do contemporary interiors in NYC. Though we recently did a project in Shanghai, China, and we’re doing some work with a few Italian furniture companies now.

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