Nothing,nowhere. (aka Joe Mulherin) is a musician that's always done things a little differently. Basing himself out in the woods, surrounded by nature, he's someone that prides himself on being self-sufficient. His music, however, draws from a range of influences such as hip-hop, pop-punk and hardcore, and you'll as easily catch him listening to Future as you will Code Orange.
When we spoke to Joe, his cat Boo was patrolling the background, as we discussed veganism, the events of 2020, and how his fanbase has helped his mental health. Speaking to him, there's a real appreciation for musicians of all genres, and the respect that he has for anyone creating art comes through in both his answers and his music.
Cool Accidents: Hey Joe! Tell me about the cat in the background!
That’s Boo. She’s crazy man, she’s a ball of energy. She likes destroying my furniture and she is obsessed with my sink for some reason.
Yeah, pets love to do that for some reason. I’ve got a Golden Retriever who has just come out of that phase of destroying things, but they really love to do it, don’t they.
Yeah, especially new furniture. They just don’t care.
How have you been? I wanted to congratulate you on Trauma Factory. I wanted to ask – when you are making such a personal record, because it is a record that I feel captures both the pain that people go through and then the way that we get through that pain – has it changed the way that you view people or events that you were writing about on the album and how you feel about them now?
Yeah. I would say I don’t harbour any negative emotions towards anyone because that’s only going to hurt me in the long run. Writing a record is an exercise in releasing emotion and letting go. It’s an exercise in letting go and being honest and real.
I think my perspective has been the same since nothing,nowhere.’s inception. We learned when we were younger ‘treat everyone how you would wanna be treated’ and to just remain compassionate and understanding in all circumstances.
Moving from the events of 2020 and into this year, and then writing an album during that period, how did the events of last year influence writing the album, if they did at all?
They definitely did. I started the album going out to LA and working with Zac Cebeni, who worked on the record, and I started going out there and recording in his studio. Then COVID happened and we just took the show to my treehouse that I have in my backyard. It changed the process, we had to do a lot of Zoom sessions, but I think that lyrically it didn’t change much because I was staying home anyways before COVID hit.
I think it’s weird and cringe to write lyrics about COVID and I don’t know man, people probably have different opinions on that but I just wanted to stay away from that. I think just the process changed a little bit and maybe for the better. It was a little bit of a blessing in disguise because we got to hang out in a treehouse and it almost made it rawer, in a sense.
I know that you 'live in the woods’, so to speak, but when I go online there's a very strong community around your music. How do you balance that isolation and living out there in the woods versus being connected to people online and being connected to your fanbase?
That’s a good question. I think social interaction is a necessity for a healthy life. I didn’t always have that viewpoint, but you start to realise it the more time you spend alone. I’d go months alone and would maybe go to the grocery store once a month and that was it for my social interaction.
But that kind of broke me down after a while and as the nothing,nowhere. online community grew I recognised a substantial change in my mood for the better because I am getting that social interaction that I don’t really get out here where I live. So I’m really thankful for that and it’s definitely very active – there's a Discord, there’s a Twitch, there’s all types of Reddits and stuff like that. It really helps me, like everyone who listens to my music has helped me by interacting or hanging out online.
You’ve been open about mental health in the past – going through last year, a lot of people struggled with mental health just coping with that isolation. What techniques and tools did you use to make sure you were feeling your best?
I think it is no surprise that as the pandemic hit people were forced to be more isolated and give up a lot of things. I, like many other people, really struggled with it at first, but I’ve dealt with my own mental illness stuff for my whole life so basically what I did is I doubled down on everything I knew I was supposed to be doing – and for me those things are meditation, eating right, eating enough food, reaching out to friends and family and just moving around, physical exercise but nothing crazy.
I would say those things are essential, and once the pandemic hit I was really struggling. I doubled down on what I was already doing. Those things keep me afloat. The silent pandemic within the pandemic has been everyone’s mental health crisis.
Australia is way ahead of us for sure, because America is a dumpster fire. People don’t know how to act and it’s a mess over here. I’m feeling optimistic seeing Australia is doing a lot better already, so that’s cool.
Australia has previously been this isolated place in terms of touring, but for someone like you, does it make touring Australia a much more appealing prospect because we are moving ahead?
Yeah, totally. It’s so cool to see what Australia has done with the pandemic. I have family there, my sister lives in Australia, I just texted her because I forgot where she lives but she lives in Manly. So she lives out there.
At the beginning of 2020, funnily enough, I booked a world tour which is the worst year of all time to book a world tour – Australia was going to be on that list but unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Australia is somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit and the only negative thing I could possibly think of would be the plane ride, but that would be worth it.
Are you a fan of flying?
I’ve gotten used to it for sure. When I was younger, I was a little unsure of it, but before the pandemic, I was flying somewhere every week, so I was forced to get used to it.
You have to come up with different pre-flight and in-flight routines.
Yeah! I know I have to have all my snacks in order and I have to have the Netflix shows pre-downloaded and then maybe something to doodle or draw on. That way, flying has gotten way easier.
I wanted to touch on diet. You’ve spoken about being vegan quite openly, and I’m actually vegan myself. I also know you brew your own kombucha. How do the ideals of veganism and the philosophy’s behind it come into your music – if they do at all?
I’d say that music as a whole, like being a musician, for me at least, is about being honest and facing the ugly truths head-on and just doing the right thing, being honest and being true. I think that there are some parallels with veganism inspiring my music, but I don’t think I’ll make a song outright soon about slaughterhouses or anything like that. I would prefer to do my activism in other areas of my life than my music.
At the end of the day, I want to go to bed knowing I didn’t participate in any pre-conceived actions of violence or anything like that. Just treat all planetary companions, all sentient beings with respect. I think that making music is a very tender process, and I think veganism has taught me even more about compassion and doing the right thing. I think I do carry that into music, for sure.
What's your go-to vegan dish? What's your specialty?
I really like this Buddha Bowl dish that I do. It’s kind of like sweet potatoes, chickpeas, you can put some tofu in there and then there’s a maple tahini ginger dressing that goes on it. It just goes crazy and it’s super easy too.
That sounds delicious!
It’s definitely rad and I have a huge garden I can’t wait to plant. We’re under three feet of snow right now, so that won’t be anytime soon, but I’m plotting it out already. I can’t wait.
I wanted to talk about the influences on Trauma Factory. When I listened to it, I thought of emo-rap, and SoundCloud rap as being influences, as well as pop-punk, hardcore and post-hardcore music. When you were putting it together, were you drawing inspiration from outside artists?
I don’t know if it was conscious or unconscious but maybe unconscious. I think for everyone there is that type of music that you grew up on and there’s always that one style that no matter how hard you try you are never going to get away from it.
For me, it was the bands that I grew up with that had that post-hardcore/emo/screamo sound. Me listening to Playboi Carti and Future and stuff like that, I’d say that’s injected into songs like Exile whereas Code Orange is injected into songs like Death. I’m most inspired by other music, honestly.
I listen to music constantly. Whenever I do chores around the house or I am in my car or anything, I’m listening to music. It’s such a brave thing to put your all into something and to be honest and raw and put it out into the world for people to judge. I commend all musicians, it’s just super inspiring. I do think that a lot of the things I listen to do fully inspire my work right now.
I love that. Finally, I wanted to ask - what is your idea of a Trauma Factory? What does a Trauma Factory actually look like in your brain?
2020. Probably the reality of just human life, whatever 7.5 billion people on earth living unsustainably, geo-political crises and so on. But at the end of the day, no matter what people suffer, knowing that other people are feeling the same things as you; there’s a lot of comfort in that. It may be a Trauma Factory but without the darkness, you never see the light.