Mumpsy mastermind Jeff Ilgenfritz has had a busy eight or nine months: He began hosting a "trivia night" at Ethos Vegan Kitchen, the restaurant where he works both front and back of the house. He served as a temporary member in both Basements of Florida and Dangerous Animals. He performed Green Day's album Dookie in its entirety, and he got sponsorship from guitar accessories giant Dunlop Manufacturing. He helped record albums by local band XOXO and semi-locals Oh Fortuna, and, with Mumpsy, he embarked on a three-week tour, their longest yet. He's added a new member to the band, directed music videos and even written for this publication.
He is, if not a Dos Equis—style "most interesting man," certainly in the running for the title of Orlando's Busiest Man-Pixie.
What Ilgenfritz is most excited about lately is the full-length B-sides album he released as a free download a couple of months ago, and Posturing, the limited-edition (only 300 were pressed) four-song vinyl 7-inch by Mumpsy that goes on sale this week. On a lazy Monday at the home of Chris Rae, Ilgenfritz's bandmate, manager and Siamese twin since their days in the Heathens, Ilgenfritz and Rae utilize their rare idle time — three hours' worth, between picking up the test prints of Posturing and Ilgenfritz's rehearsals with Basements of Florida — with laser-like intensity. They have a date: Super Mario Galaxy, some cold beers with their lovely girlfriends and an interview for this story. It never stops.
"I'm addicted to this lifestyle," says Ilgenfritz, 24, whose thin frame and signature cricket cap and beard disguise a youthfulness that seems supernatural considering the singer's longtime impact on the city's sound. "We listened to Barry White today and immediately I was like, ‘We should do a Barry White cover album.' Why not? More bands need to do that. Wake up, drink a cup of coffee and don't eat anything till you write a song. I like working a day job and getting home and having a project to work on. If I wasn't doing music, I'd have the most beautiful lawn in North America. It can be frightening at times. I just like to do things and I'm thankful that Chris Rae likes to do it, too."
Ilgenfritz never refers to Rae as anything other than "Chris Rae," a gesture suspiciously closer to authoritarian respect than roll-call habit. Rae, with his tired eyes, floppy mop and great delivery of sneaky one-liners, carries himself like someone who can't help commanding leadership but would rather not. "I'm a melody guy," he begs off when asked about the album's content.
The content discussion falls solely on the narrow shoulders of Ilgenfritz, who chuckles at his nice-guy image as easily (and carefully) as he does at some critics' and fans' similar assessment of his music. If it's possible to put a years-long categorization behind you with a single 7-inch record, then Posturing turns off the lights on the way out. The theatrical opening number, "Coffin State of Mind," sets the mood with a blistering critique of Ilgenfritz's hometown of Apopka and the city's mayor, John H. Land, who, in his 57th year in the position, is Florida's longest-serving mayor — a fact Ilgenfritz blames on reckless gerrymandering and voter apathy. Later, on "Holy Roller," a Zombies-esque collective eye roll at "condescending, selfish little fucked-up brats" who troll the streets armed with Bibles, Ilgenfritz revels in his minor-chord snarl. Religion plays a particularly prominent role on Posturing, something Ilgenfritz sees as a kind of familial duty.
"My brother ran into legal trouble and as soon as `he was arrested`, he was on the front page of the `Apopka` city paper, like, ‘Look at this asshole,'" says Ilgenfritz. "And this fuckin' city paper is the same paper where, if you just scan three or four pages `inside`, it's ‘My Christian Press.' Like, ‘Are there golf clubs in heaven? Yeah! There are golf `courses` and water parks, yeah!' It just angered me to the point of, ‘Oh god, you can't win.' I just saw Religulous last night for the first time, and `star Bill Maher` says that unapologetic atheists make up 16 percent of our country and they should be more vocal about that. I've kind of stuck to that."
At this exact moment, a certain grandiose mischief appears in Ilgenfritz's pupils, a look that suggests he's about to attempt another go-round on the tightrope he suspends between half-sincerity and elaborately ironic commentary.
"But I should also say I'm a Greek mythologist," says Ilgenfritz. "I believe in Zeus, so I have a religion."
"But you don't, like, believe in Zeus," I clarify, informing him he's just provided me with a pretty juicy quote.
"I believe in Zeus," he confirms. "It's just that ancient religion and I find more human characteristics in that religion than any other. It's wacky, but …."
It's actually logical, in point of fact, in the frenzied, try-everything-but-idle-hands world of Mumpsy, a Super Mario Galaxy in which making two albums in nearly as many months is merely the anchor to a whirling schedule of exhaustive email@example.com
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.