Mayhew the Traitor

Matthew Hobler : Vocals, Guitar
JW Robb: Drums, Recording Engineer
Andrew Menschel: Bass, Backing Vocals

Base of operations: Champaign-Urbana, IL, St. Louis, MO, & Lincoln, IL

MP3s at

Macomb, Illinois is an hour’s drive from anything resembling a city. It’s a farm community with a state university at its center (the population of the town doubles when school is in session). In the nine months that I lived there, the only thing that I ever found to do was drink. As luck would have it, the drink is what brought me to Mayhew the Traitor.

One evening while chugging down as many beers as possible during my hour-long lunch break from work, I was graced with the comfortable ease of the town’s most beloved crooner. Matthew Hobler stood at the end of a dark and dirty bar with an acoustic guitar in hand, singing cover songs that ranged from Elliott Smith to The Beatles to traditional folk songs. His voice was honest, steady, and devoted, with a sincerity that few can achieve even while performing their own songs. Hobler was not limited to this, of course, as I soon came to find out.

Hobler worked in the bar’s kitchen as a cook during the day and provided the bar with free entertainment at night in exchange for free drinks. As is evident throughout the songs that Hobler wrote on Deathwish, his experiences with this awkward country-college life drew parallels to my own. When his surroundings had nothing to offer, he filled in the gaps with love, drugs, and alcohol.

Deathwish is the sad and painful story of a modest man seeking love and salvation only to be greeted with defeat. Addiction follows the drowning of sorrows and he surrenders. In “Tolstoy’s Head,” Hobler sings, “You probably haven’t heard from me lately. I’ve been shelter inside. I’ve been strung out and silent, just to slow down on good pills. Oh, what a mess I have been.” However, throughout our hero’s story, he presents the listener with immense beauty. It would seem that his most desperate moments bring us closest to his heart.

Mayhew the Traitor have toured with No Idea Records’ Scouts Honor and performed in Austin, Texas during SXSW Music Festival.

Similar artists: Neil Young, Radiohead, Damien Rice, Elliott Smith, My Morning Jacket

V/A "Ten Years Of Thinker Thought" Thinker Thought Records 2011
"Deathwish" Thinker Thought Records 2008

Hinter press photo 1
Mayhew the Traitor - Download printable press photo 1 (1800 x 1200 jpeg) - by Brett Rhoades

Hinter press photo 2
Mayhew the Traitor - Download printable press photo 2 (1800 x 1200 jpeg) - by Brett Rhoades

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THI 014 - Tina Sparkle "All Around Champion Screw Up"

THI 016 - Mayhew the Traitor "Deathwish" 10-song CD

RELEASE DATE: April 15, 2008
PDF Press Kit

BUY IT NOW: Interpunk & iTunes
Download printable cover art (1500 x 1500 jpeg)

Track Listing:
1. Shakin' with John Wayne
2. See You In Hell
3. The In-Between
4. Deathwish
5. Tolstoy's Head
6. Lottie
7. Song One
8. Sweet Samsara
9. The Devil Knows My Name
10. This Is My White Flag


"The isolated college town of Macomb, IL seems a fitting setting for the dark American gothic sound crafted by the trio of Mayhew The Traitor. However, even with song titles like 'See You In Hell' and the title track of 'Deathwish', the Midwest boys know how to kick the dust off some tunes and even bring in a little honky tonk on 'Song One.' The remainder of the album falls somewhere between a more vibrant American era Johnny Cash and early My Morning Jacket. What ultimately makes the album work so well and find real depth for the songs is singer/songwriter Matthew Hobler's commonality with slowcore principles Mark Kozelek and Jason Molina in both delivery and content." - David C. Obenour/Ghettoblaster Magazine

"Rest assured you'll definitley dig this to bits." - Sirens Sounds

"Getting records like this while writing for a site called "" always catches me off guard. Not that it's necessarily a bad thing, but it just goes to show that punk rock has become a lot more eclectic than it used to be.

"Macomb, Illinois' Mayhew the Traitor open up their debut album Deathwish with a alt-country inspired jam called 'Shakin' with John Wayne,' which is the weakest track on this album. Deathwish doesn't really pick up until the second track, 'See You in Hell.' At this point the band sounds like their channeling an angry Thom Yorke playing with Radiohead on the farm. As abstract as that description is, it's probably the best you're likely to find. Mayhew defy classification all over this record. The basis for everything is a folk/alt-country vibe, but it gets mixed with so many other genres through the course of Deathwish's forth-three minute running time that it's hard to say exactly what it is these Macomb boys are doing. The closest comparison I can draw to this band is Silver Jews with a greater emphasis on melody rather than storytelling.

"As odd as this album is, it's definitely a quality record. You'd be hard pressed to find a stranger, more experimental album in this vein. The songs are drenched in such gorgeous melancholy that it's really hard to resist. This is a great album for a road trip and definitely one of the more unique releases in recent memory. If you can ignore that oddly placed first track, you're in for an excellent album that won't disappoint. - 4 out of 5" - Max Gambill/

"To hear Deathwish once is to fall into its heavy yet folky Americana rock spell. The Macomb, IL college town trio have the good fortune to be fronted by enormously talented singer-songwriter Matthew Hobler, who writes sagas of sad love gone wrong of the whiskey-blotted nights variety, set to his robust, clean 'n' bright, jangly-guitars that remind of Ohio's Libertines U.S. without the faster tempos. Hobler has a voice as strong as his playing too, sounding like a thicker Ringo Starr mixed with Ray Price. Getting sucked in to the likes of "See You in Hell"—oh yes, Hobler minces words for no one!—and "Deathwish" is to be thrown around by a Crazy Horse-ish guitar simmer that buttresses the lachrymose to lacerating lyrical laments, while nimble bassist Andrew Menschel and drummer JW Robb deftly handle sudden changes in tempo and inflection—all at the core of an involving pop LP like few you'll name." – Big Takeover Magazine 62

"Mayhew the Traitor is another winner for Thinker Thought Records, an emerging label that won't be small for very long with their roster. Mayhew the Traitor deliver ten songs of what their label describes as "electro folk," but reminds me of Tom Petty mixing with Bob Dylan while listening to a healthy dose of The Bends by Radiohead. I guess the label's description could be accurate, but I hear much more atmosphere and rocking moments than folk.

"These songs all have the ability to grow on the listener pretty quickly, and they get better with each passing listen. I love how each song flows from start to finish. There is a lot of movement and action going on in each song. They have such strong build ups, which adds so much extra umph to this band. Their use of dynamics is as good as can be, making each moment a memorable one.

"I really like this band. Mayhew the Traitor are a young and damn good band that have a whole lot ahead of them. I'm really interested in seeing what the future has in store for this band." - Robert Forand/ThePlaylist.Net

"The American Rock Band

"With blue-collar sensibility, members of Macomb band Mayhew the Traitor aren't looking for fame with the release of their debut CD. They're too busy working.

"With all the blue-collar Americana of Bruce Springsteen, the sorrowful honesty of Hank Williams Sr. and the bar room rowdiness of Johnny Cash, Macomb rock band Mayhew the Traitor has circled from total obscurity to become one of the region’s most beloved acts.

"Their first full-length CD, titled 'Deathwish,' was released nationwide Tuesday, April 1 and is the culmination of over four years of personal struggle for front man Matt Hobler. 'The band got me through some tough times,' Hobler said. 'A lot of what’s in the album is about my experiences in Macomb. I kind of wrote fictional stories about some bad situations. It was a way of dealing with it.'

"Those emotions shine through the music with stories of life’s valleys and seeking redemption from past mistakes.

"Imagery from Macomb’s downtown became the settings of intense earthy Midwestern myth.

"'There are a lot of mental pictures I used from that back alleyway behind The Caf and the Bootlegger,' Hobler said. 'There’s just something about that alleyway.'

"The Bootlegger is the proverbial birthplace of the album, according to Hobler. Before he joined with bandmates JW Robb and Andrew Menschel, Hobler said he would play solo sets at the scenic bar for $50 and all the whiskey he could drink.

"That’s when he met Jared Grabb, the founder and owner of internationally-distributed Thinker Thought Records out of Peoria. At the time, Grabb was working as a graphic designer at The Mediacall Group.

"'The first time I saw (Hobler) play I was blown away,' Grabb said. 'I went up to compliment him and it turned out that he knew who I was. It turned out to be the first great friendship that I made in Macomb that I’ve kept afterward. He then introduced me to a lot of other great people in Macomb that I hadn’t known before that.'

"About that time Robb was pressuring Hobler to take his music further. 'JW knew I was writing a bunch of songs and he said we should start a band,' Hobler said. 'I told him he was crazy. But, kicking and screaming, JW got us to that first show.'

"That first show was on Halloween night 2005 and the band had yet to pick a name. After going over a plethora of choices, the band finally settled on Mayhew the Traitor in reference to Henry Mayhew, a journalist in the mid-1800s who fought for working class rights.

"'All my buddies work blue-collar jobs and I work a blue-collar job and the best compliments we get are from the truckers and factory workers that like our music,' Hobler said.

"The songs of the album span a wide variety of musical influences bordering on country with lush organs and sharp harmonica with other tracks reminiscent of Neal Young and Bob Dylan. Intermittent crescendos of hard-hitting rock add a feeling of urgent energy.

"Robb said he enjoys being in a band that can play with other bands of any genre. 'We can hop on shows of pretty much any kind of music,' Robb said. 'We’ve played in all metal shows and we’ve played all country shows. I think because of the way we sound we can pretty much play with anybody. That helps us gain a pretty diverse audience.'

"Grabb agrees the band has a widely diverse audience.

"'They’re hardworking guys who have really good lyrics,' Grabb said. 'You can hear that what they’re doing isn’t necessarily trying to fit into a scene as much as it’s trying to make honest music that hits home with them and then, in turn, hits home with their audience.'

"According to Grabb, a main reason for Mayhew the Traitor’s success is the band members’ down-to-earth and outwardly-caring personalities.

"'I think they’re the types of people that you want to know,' Grabb said. 'They’re just great to be around. I don’t know anybody who has anything bad to say about them. They’re just amazing people.'

"Hobler currently works with adults who have developmental disabilities. Menschel, the bass player, actively worked as a substitute teacher at several area schools.

"Robb, who works as a sound technician, said even though he feels lucky to have the CD out, the band is too busy working to pay off school debts to tour.

"'We want to tour but we’re all trying to get out of debt and get jobs, so that’s not in the near future, but you never know,' Robb said.

"Robb added he’s really proud of the CD and the band is currently working on more material.

"'Everyone always says that you’re your own biggest critic,' he said. 'There’s always things we think we could’ve done better, even in the recording and mixing, but it all worked out.'

"The album’s official release show is scheduled for Saturday, April 19 at the ADD Loft above Sound Garden off the northeast corner of the Square. The venue is open to all ages and the show is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.

"The album is currently available at The Phoenix, Macomb, and online," - Nathan Woodside/Macomb Eagle

"For the first time in most of WIU’s undergrad’s life, Macomb has a music scene with original music… Eric Ebert from local act, Transfer to Red, reflects on his favorite local band. ‘I really like Mayhew the Traitor a lot. Those guys have got a really cool sound. I really like going to see those guys.’“ - WIUS Showcase (WIUS 88.3 FM)

"Macomb Brews 'Mayhew'

"From the melancholy 'Deathwish' to the upbeat 'Shakin' With John Wayne,' Mayhew the Traitor's material covers much emotional and sonic territory. On its MySpace profile, the Macomb band jokingly says it is 'beard-core,' but its diverse, folk rock-inspired sound defies concise labels and one-word categorization.

"Even though drummer J.W. Robb and guitarist/vocalist Matthew Hobler knew each other throughout their childhoods, they did not start playing music together until their days at Lincoln Community High School. A year and a half ago, while Robb and Hobler were attending Western Illinois University, they met bassist/vocalist Andrew Menschel, who completed Mayhew the Traitor's line-up.

"Even this early in their careers, the band members care little about fitting in with a music scene.

"'We really don't care about labels at all, that's pretty much a joke,' Robb said. 'I would say folk rock would be the most appropriate (description of our sound), I guess, but we have tons of different influences that show up every now and then.'

"While Hobler's favorite artists include the Beatles, Elliott Smith, George Harrison and Neil Young, Robb mainly listens to classic rock. Even though Mayhew the Traitor draws thoroughly from its musical forefathers, the band's eclectic sampling of genres distances it from the mainstream.

"'We aren't exactly what is on the radio,' Robb said.

"Because of its diversity and dark tunefulness as well as its exciting live show, Mayhew the Traitor earned a second-place finish at Western's Battle of the Bands last Thursday.

"'We like to play with a lot of energy and enthusiasm,' Robb said. 'We are very passionate about our music and we try to get into it as much as possible.'

"Currently, Robb and Hobler do not attend Western because they dedicate most of their time to music. When not working on Mayhew the Traitor material, Hobler, the band's main songwriter, performs solo shows that include covers from acts like the Beatles, George Harrison, Ryan Adams, Bright Eyes and Neil Young. The remaining members find part-time occupations to fund the band.

"'We have a little bit of work,' Robb said. 'Drew substitute teaches and I run sound (at fairs and festivals). We're doing a tour up here in a month or so, so we're kind of just playing shows right now.'

"Beginning on Mar. 5, the band will launch a tour with Scouts' Honor, a hardcore band based in Peoria. The two acts will travel to the South to arrive at Southwest Fest in Austin, Texas, and Robb will fill in Scouts' Honor's drumming position through March and April.

"At the beginning of May, the band hopes to release its debut album, (Deathwish).

"'We're finishing up (the record),' Robb said. 'The majority of the recording was done over the past three or four months when I was working in Springfield, and we did most of the recording there. We've been finishing up stuff (in Macomb) for the past month. (The record) should be done and out by either mid-May or early June.'

"When (Deathwish) reaches the public, the band hopes to organize a tour in support of its debut.

"'After our record's done and released, we're going to do at least two weeks to a month by ourselves around the Midwest and see where that goes,' Robb said." - Ben Snowden/Western Courier

"I like listening to depressing music when I'm sad or just down. The new Ulver album has been very effective of late. The feeling emanating from that CD is powerful. Opeth's Damnation, Mayhew the Traitor, and Portishead are also some other that are effective for me." - Kane Blaum/SputnikMusic

"Very eclectic in their musical stylings, and with influences ranging from Dylan to Operation Ivy to My Morning Jacket." - XO Underground

"Mayhew the Traitor are a three-piece who play some dreamy, jangly folk-rock that erred on the side of jam-band one or two times. I was into it.” - Mac/The View From Nowhere