Meet Mummula, the band that adopted masks long before any state mandate

J.R. McMillan
Mummula from left to right:  Eric von Goosebump, El Santos, Kevbot 2, Mark Hovthevampyre

Ask any musician what frightens them most at the moment and it’s probably the prospect of empty stages with no end in sight. It even scares the members of Mummula, who should be selling out Halloween gigs with their spooky schtick right now rather than lingering in the shadows.

“With all the uncertainty about the virus, it became a question beyond whether venues were going to be open and more about if they would be safe for the people we care about,” said Eric von Goosebump (the band members all operate under stage names). “We don't want to have our fans, friends and family come see us and then get sick. I think we collectively decided, ‘Let's just play it safe and kind of tap out for a while.’”

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As if Mummula’s signature swag and pseudonyms don’t give it away, there’s obviously some deft design and branding expertise among the members, which more than subtly hints at their respective day gigs. Like most bands, moving music and merchandise online instead of at shows has become the standard, but Mummula is also spreading some goodwill as a fall chill settles into Ohio. The band launched its own line of face masks earlier this year, with all proceeds going to the United Way Worldwide's COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund, and an upcoming release to benefit the Movember Foundation next month builds on a prior EP to raise money and awareness for the men’s health initiative.

With the grit of a garage band, the members of Mummula perform horror-inspired hits and credible covers dressed in matching black capes and bandaged heads. Loyal fans are already in on the gag, but the uninitiated are often left wondering whether these four guys are for real or just a ghoulish gimmick intended to hide a bunch of retro rock wannabes.

“People are genuinely surprised when they listen to us because we do a really nice punk show, but we have some garage rock elements in there, as well as the surf instrumentals, which really resonate when it all comes together,” Mark Hovthevampyre said. “It’s like a full-package ... Scooby-Doo kind of show, singing about monsters and aliens.”

But Mummula is very real, and any doubts are settled as soon as the band takes the stage, hitting predictable power chords at a break-neck pace on catchy tunes such as “My Baby’s Turnin’ Into a Wolfman” and “Ed Wouldn’t.” The band is surf meets snark, punk meets parody — as if Dick Dale founded Devo, or Joey Ramone and Weird Al conspired to create the genetic lovechild of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Every song is unexpected, with members trading instruments and vocals, along with the occasional cameo from keytar or kazoo. The band even has its own fan club cleverly called The Wrap, keeping its growing legion of followers hip to its happenings throughout the Midwest, even as the pandemic persists.