IN MEMORIAM: BRIAN MULLER *written by Joe Kent

Okay, kids. It’s time for our usual crew to sit the fuck down and let someone else talk. Brian Muller was an integral part of the Buffalo music scene, so we wanted to give one of his best friends yet another platform to discuss Brian on. Joe operates the ThinkSoJoe Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms I’m sure. He also does stellar voice-over work @tsjdigital (fb).

Without further ado, here’s Joe with his dedication piece to Brian fucking Muller. This piece will also be printed in Wretched Sound Issue #1 available August 1st.

October 10, 2012. That’s the day I met Brian Muller. Brian, along with his band at the time, Scarlet Embrace, were guests on the podcast I co-hosted at the time, which, if you know me, you know that’s how most people meet me. Within the next couple of days, Brian is at my apartment trading me a Brownsville 2×12 combo amp for my Ibanez ToneBlaster half stack, which, if you know Brian, that’s how most people meet him. He tells me that this Brownsville was his first amp, which he later sold and then found again at a pawn shop, knowing it was his because he carved his initials into it somewhere.

A couple of days later he tells me if I ever decide to get rid of it, to offer it to him first, but that he couldn’t trade the Ibanez back for it since he’d already sold it. Little did I know that this was the start of an 8 ½ year journey with someone who would prove to be the best person I’ve ever met.

Brian was a Long Island native who kept moving west, looking to find a good music scene to ply his trade in. He joined the aforementioned Scarlet Embrace while moving his entire life to Buffalo, but after that band ended in early 2013, Brian went on to form what would become his biggest project and the one where most people first met him, Lost Elysium, a band which would go on to sign with Generic Records, tour the country, open up for many major acts, and have a single chart on Billboard with “Think Like The Enemy.” I had the privilege of working for Lost Elysium in a few different roles, but I think my favorite was when I worked as Brian’s guitar tech at Mohawk Place one night. He had at least 5 guitars in his rack that night, and knowing Brian’s penchant for finding deals on gear, he probably didn’t pay full price for a single one of them. He hands me a setlist – which I should look for as I’m positive it’s still in storage somewhere around here – and it’s got handwritten notes on what guitars he wanted for which songs, all written not with any sort of description, but with their names. As we get to the last change, I go to hand him the next guitar, and he waves me off. I asked him about it after the show. “Sometimes you’re just feeling a guitar.”

While he was having success with Lost Elysium, Brian kept busy with other projects. He built a studio and studied music production techniques. In February of 2016 he joined me as the original co-host of my weekly local music podcast, the ThinkSoJoE Show, and later that year got to work on a solo project he called Silence The Cynic. He also started to build a great reputation amongst the local vinyl buying community as he amassed a large record collection, which I blame for my own 400+ and growing library of vinyl.

On July 24, 2017, Brian announced that he was leaving Lost Elysium, deciding it was what was best for him and his family, his intent being to work as a touring musician and session player. However, in November of that year, he joined up with a hard rock band out of Syracuse called Breaking Solace, and in December, released the first Silence The Cynic track, “Another Christmas Song,” followed by a three-song EP of punk Credence Clearwater Revival covers called “CPR: Credence Punk Revival.”

By August of 2018, Brian left Breaking Solace, citing “personality conflicts.” It was kind of funny, for two years in a row he and I wound up seeing the bands he had just left perform without him at the Music Is Art Festival. Following his departure, he started a career as a narrator, and continued to write and record music in his studio, including a cover of “Dammit (Growing Up)” by his favorite band, Blink-182 that he recorded under his Silence The Cynic name along with his long time best friend C.R. Dingley in January 2019.

In May of that year, I decided I wanted to get back into making original music myself. I found a singer and a drummer who were interested but couldn’t seem to find a bass player, so I asked Brian if he’d fill in for a little bit until we found someone, just so we could get everybody in the room and jam and get things started. He agreed, he tagged along, and on the way home he told me he had a lot of fun. Two weeks later and he decided he would just stay on as our bassist. That’s how The Living Braindead was born. While his previous bands all had lofty goals to make the bands their livelihood, The Living Braindead were just four guys who just wanted to play music. As such, the biggest decisions we ever had to really make were if we wanted to take a show or what the setlist would be when we did. The laid-back nature of the band seemed to reinvigorate Brian’s passion. The creative juices started flowing. Along with writing songs with us – which typically consisted of me coming up with a riff and him sending back a completed demo with drums, bass, and guitar 20 minutes later, or him just writing entire songs and bringing them to us – he released a second Silence The Cynic EP titled “Not Too Numb” in August 2019, half of which ended up as fixtures in Living Braindead setlists.

The Living Braindead released an EP in March of 2020 entitled “Falls Count Anywhere,” which Brian recorded, produced, and mixed. We had four copies of that EP pressed to vinyl, one for each of us, mostly because Brian and I were avid record collectors, and also because he and I both thought it was the coolest thing to have our own music on vinyl.

The EP was released on a label Brian created called 7th Son Records, where he later released his final album, “A Victim Of Physics,” an ambient album that released on April 9, 2021. That album was a passion project for Brian, and one of his proudest achievements as a musician. He would tell us how happy he was to have gotten that out before he got hurt. He would send out physical copies of the cd with a personal, handwritten note for everyone who bought it. Except me. He just handed me mine. Joke’s on him. I’ve still got those handwritten instructions on that setlist from when I teched for him somewhere.

However, none of that even comes close to capturing the person Brian Muller was. The day he passed I went and sat by his bedside in the hospital. I went even though I knew he was already gone. I was there for… man, I don’t even know. Could’ve been twenty minutes, could’ve been two hours. Time just stopped. When I got back home and walked in the door, that’s when it hit me that Brian was gone. I threw my keys on the couch and sat down, knowing he just gave me this couch less than two weeks earlier because he was getting new furniture and knew we were looking to buy a couch. And as I sat there, I looked up and saw these two, unbeknownst to my partner Corina and I, brand new air conditioners that he sent to us because I mentioned it was warm in my living room despite having my AC on. The night before he passed, he was giving me shit because we hadn’t put them in yet, because that was Brian. Meanwhile, he was watching “They Live,” which he listed as his favorite movie, and called me out publicly for having never seen it, which was a frequently recurring theme in our friendship to the point that it was a segment when he was my co-host on the ThinkSoJoE Show. He’d give me a movie to watch that I’d never seen, and we’d discuss it on the show the next week. I never did get to tell him that I actually really enjoyed “They Live” when I watched it that night.

I digress.

Lest you think that the couch and the air conditioners were just Brian helping me out because of how close we were, I assure you it wasn’t. Brian was the type of guy to help anyone in any way he could. One particularly icy night we were driving back to South Buffalo from our drummer’s place in Lockport, and we pulled over no less than three times to help people who were stuck, all while safely leading our singer Kevin to Walmart to replace a broken windshield wiper.

It wasn’t just in person that Brian was a kind soul. While he was awaiting surgery for his injury, a voiceover client of his happened to find me, not knowing Brian and I were friends. I also didn’t know Brian was his usual guy, so I really gave him a hard time about asking for rush delivery without paying for it. When it finally hit me that his usual guy wasn’t available because his usual guy was Brian, I rushed the job and apologized. He tells me how much he likes working with Brian and that he can’t wait to talk to him again. I got to tell Brian that the night before he passed, he really appreciated that. Which I’m not sure if that made it easier or harder to break the news to this individual from Morocco who only knew either of us through our voiceover work.

Brian had surgery on July 2nd to correct a herniated disc that had managed to get a nerve wrapped around it, which was causing him great pain and difficulty in using his hands. There was a slight chance that he’d never be able to play guitar again afterward. However, shortly after surgery, he was beginning to regain feeling in his fingers. We in The Living Braindead were hopeful he’d recover and be able to rejoin us again. Sadly, just three days later, on his 35th birthday, Brian passed away from a blood clot that led to heart failure. His final wish was to have his ashes pressed into a record – because of course it was. The aforementioned C.R. Dingley set up a GoFundMe with a goal of $5,000 to make that happen, and in a testament to how truly loved Brian was, we reached that goal within just three days of it going live.

Thank you, Brian, for showing me that good, pure-hearted people still exist in this world. I will forever cherish these past 8 ½ years we spent as frequent collaborators, record store shoppers, and most importantly, friends. You’ll truly be missed, and those of us who knew you will make sure your spirit lives on through your music.

– Joe Kent

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