When Music and Math Converge

They’re not too good at crunching numbers, but by doing what they love, the Mathematicians have watched their name and fan base grow exponentially.


Everyone’s dancing, bouncing around on the cold concrete floor, arms flying in the air, fists pounding to the beat. Everyone is cramped into such a small space next to the stage even though there’s plenty of room at the back. High school kids, college kids, and even adults are there, yelling, screaming, wailing...mathematical terms?

To the delight of many eyes and ears, the Mathematicians have lived up to their name by integrating math ideals and terms into their lyrics, and even dressing up in lab coats, coke-bottle glasses, and sweater vests to top off the feel of each show. Speaking to the keyboarder/guitarist who refers to himself only as “Dewi Decimal”, it’s apparent that the energy of the group doesn’t just reside at the shows, that’s only a fraction of it. During the interview, a treasure trove of witty remarks were always at the ready, like describing his car as “the spaceship” or commenting on his decision to pass his awesome sideburns on to other members of the band saying, “those guys don’t have a lot.”

Mathematicians
Mathematicians (from left to right): Albert Gorithm IV, Pete Pythagorus, and Dewi Decimal

Keeping up this persona is something that is very important to the Mathematicians. “If they're in their normal street clothes, they'll talk about the band like completely separate people who they don't really know.  Then they get into costume and these personas just come to life,” says lead singer of the local band, Yo! Adrian, Corey Collins. Their dedication is so tried and true that the band even refuses to reveal their real names.

Collins has had the chance to book the band on several occasions since 2002 and Yo! Adrian also opened the stage for them at their concert at the Trinity Church venue here last year. “They love it up here and they always appreciate everything that everyone in Plattsburgh has done to support them,” Collins says.

“[The Mathematicians] love it up here and they always appreciate everything that everyone in Plattsburgh has done to support them.”

Since becoming a band nearly five years ago, the guys have pumped out two CDs, Level One and Level Two, and are just now working on recording their third, which is hoped to be released by mid-June of this year. Writing such mathematical medleys as “Binary Girl”, “Harpsicode”, and “Weapons of Math Instruction” apparently isn’t that hard at all. “We might marinate on it for a while,” says Dewi, then they just end up writing “whatever’s at the top of our heads, or the bottom, or in between.” After having been involved in writing a song, which can take anywhere from 30 seconds to a year, Dewi says he just needs a break from it. From time to time he’ll listen back through some tracks and maybe pick up an idea here or there for a new song, or nitpick his voice or performance, but other than that, the Mathematicians don’t have much interest in listening to their own music. In fact, Dewi says, “I always feel strange hearing one of our own songs on the radio or a CD player. I feel like I should be playing it.”

The group also just released a new DVD, Mathematicians: Transdimensional Odyssey of Doom, which came out earlier this year. The DVD is an assortment of live shows from all across North America with a few animations thrown in and was made possible through the expertise of their director, Jonathan Phelps. This new DVD can be purchased either on their website or at any of their live shows.

Dewi and fellow Mathematicians “Pete Pythagoras”, and “Albert Gorithm IV”, had known each other long before starting their famous group. They had all played in different bands which covered anything from hip-hop to indie rock, so when they finally decided to start a band of their own, they all agreed on trying something different, they just didn’t know what that ‘something different’ was yet. After making a discovery of a few beat-up keyboards, the guys started developing their new “electro-synth-punk” sound while playing a few house shows around Plattsburgh and the surrounding area.

The music and their stage show and presence are just so easy to get into,”

Their sound is such a mishmash of everything including hip-hop, rock, and electronic already, but they still continue to develop it as they go. “We’ve got a lot of different junk to play with,” says to Dewi. A lot of the sounds they use for their music right now come from traditional instruments like drums and guitars, but others come from computers, a pad box [electric drums], keyboards, and even a vocorder, which is basically a voice synthesizer, but with a few more parts.

hydroelectric pump
Yo! Adrian (from left to right): Front: Justin Passino, Eric Peterson, "Big Steve" Kuntz" Back: "Little Steve" Loughman, and Corey Collins

Their live shows aren’t just them playing on stage; they also have a screen displaying images behind them, in addition to energetic lighting which is synchronized to their music. Just recently, the guys have added a brand new light and sound system which will allow the group to say good-bye to the sound and light guys and work the entire show themselves. Even though getting the system up and working correctly kept the group awake into the wee hours of the morning, they are all still very excited to try it out on their new tour. “The music and their stage show and presence are just so easy to get into,” says Collins, so this new system should move the Mathematicians’ live show to a whole new level.

Not that they really need it. As it says on their website, “The live show is a hallucinogenic amalgamation of music, live visual projections and midi-controlled lighting sequences capable of shaking arenas or turning a house party into a small nuclear explosion.” That’s a lot of responsibility to take on all by themselves but, ”I think we like to torture ourselves,” says Dewi, “I guess that’s the fun.” Their stage presence leaves nothing to be desired either, according to Collins, who describes the show as being “all inclusive.” The main thing, he says, is that the guys are always moving around, on the stage, in the crowd, and having people sing into the microphone, “that really gets everybody into it.”

“I think we like to torture ourselves. I guess that’s the fun.”

They’ve got the new album, movie, and light and sound system, and just recently the Mathematicians left for a 35-day tour on March 4th which will sift through the south and southwest United States to promote it all. Being so successful and growing more so everyday has not greatly impacted the Mathematicians as a group, says Dewi. “We just want to be comfortable.” They just go with the flow and make sure they never forget to have fun doing it. Justin Passino, a local fan of the Mathematicians since their creation, also used to play with the guys when they were involved with their separate bands. Through the years, Passino has observed the Mathematicians working within the local scene and says, “They're doing their own thing, without subscribing to any labels and it's working. The music scene is changing and becoming more self-sustaining, and the Mathematicians are one of the bands at the forefront.”

What is your favorite band from the North Country?