Mystik Spiral is the band fronted and led by Trent Lane, Daria's friend Jane's brother. It is an alternative-rock grunge band, with elements of heavy metal: sources call it "post-alterna-grunge" or "trance punk". Most of their songs aim for screeds on the tortured human condition, to a ludicrous degree.
They often introduce themselves as, "We're Mystik Spiral, but we're thinking of changing the name." Some of the alternate names have included "Helpful Corn" and "Something-Something Explosion". They also wondered aloud if it would help if they "spelled Mystik with 2 Ys".
The band's history
The MTV website Reburb filled in the background of the band:
- The roots of Mystik Spiral were planted when 12-year-old Trent Lane met musical soulmate Jesse Moreno at summer school (well, around the corner from summer school). These two young iconoclasts discovered that they shared a mutual love of rock and roll, water pistols, and gum.
- With acoustic guitars donated to the band by Mr.Vincent Lane (a big draw on the singer songwriter circuit of early-1970s Ann Arbor, Michigan -- see Daybreak Dreamin') the two boys began experimenting with unorthodox riffs and jarring, atonal juxtapositions. Eventually Mr. Lane clued them into the concept of tuning, and things took off from there.
- Performing for family and friends as 'Wax Lypps,' 'Indyan Burn,' and occasionally 'Boa Constryctyr,', the boys developed a repertoire of angst-driven power pop and Weird Al Yankovic covers. They decide to turn electric when they realized that it would be louder.
- In high school, they teamed up with drummer Max Tyler after he answered a notice placed in a local paper. Attracted by the pared-down, zen-like simplicity of the ad ('They charge by the word,' Trent notes), Max blew everyone away with his energy, drive, and ownership of a drum kit. The threesome played numerous basements throughout their teen years, developing their signature style of pioneering 'trance punk.' They changed their name to Mystik Spiral and immediately began reconsidering it. But the name stuck, since Jesse had already written it in metallic marker on his guitar case.
- The lineup became complete when the threesome spotted Nicholas Campbell hitchhiking along the side of the road in 1996, and the rest is history (including a five-hour wait for a tow truck when The Tank broke down a few yards later.)
- In the late 90's, Jesse briefly also appeared with the group Bats With Guns, which later splintered into Cats With Gats and Bats with Bats. Trent has worked on many solo projects over the years, including an unfinished tone poem inspired by the weather, a yet-to-be-completed opera about the life of actor Nick Nolte, and an idea for a sort of hybrid comic book/CD sampler that he'll get around to eventually. Nicholas and Max wish people would pay more attention to them.
The band's "career"
They are generally portrayed in a negative light - in their very first mention in "Road Worrier", Daria said the name sounded like a Doors tribute band and Jane laughed that they wish they were that good - and the few of their songs we get to hear are rubbish. Even Trent once said the songs in the second set were so lame, he'd leave the gig if he wasn't in the band ("Jane's Addition").
Despite all this, they keep getting gigs, both in Lawndale and elsewhere. They've performed at Brittany Taylor's birthday party, a kids party in Fremont, the Club Glamour Lounge near Ashfield, various dives across Carter County, and regularly in Lawndale at both McGrundy's Brew Pub and The Zon. Their website states "We are available for weddings, sweet sixteens, bar mitzvahs, acquittal parties, keggers. Not too early in the day, please... Cash, check, or barter accepted." A genre magazine named Smudge Magazine gave them a (ludicrously purple prosed) favourable review, calling them a "convincingly tormented quartet", while Muck & Rage gave them a bad review because the reviewer was a surly douche and thought Trent looked like the type of boy his ex-girlfriend liked.
They had a website from 1999, fronted by Trent, where you could book them, join their fan club ("Make a stand against corporate rock (until we sign a record deal)"), and see their lyrics. Max set it up. It's very clear on the site that they need money badly.
They have never released a CD. The IIFY Post-Movie Chat had Trent state they have a 15-track CD in the works "and we only have 14 left to go"; in 2001, their website said they needed to agree on the cover art and get the drum kit "out of hock". They have released a vinyl single of "Behind My Eyelids" (with B-side "Icebox Woman") under Plush Records (Daria Diaries) but on their website they admit many shops refuse to order it.
"Is It College Yet?" gave them a "Future Ego": being members of a church choir (while Trent was a US Senator).
To our surprise, Mystik Spiral has a fan club! We first saw it in "The Daria Database", run by Jesse's brother Danny Moreno ("recording secretary"). The Mystik Spiral Fan Club had a newsletter sent out to "Spiralmaniacs": one page personally typed by Danny, and released very infrequently.
A year later, on Spiral's website (run by Trent), you could join their fan club online and get your own print-off membership card:
- You can show your support by joining our fan club. But what we really need is for you to come to our gigs. And not ask us to comp you when the cover is only three bucks. And if you could help us load the amps into The Tank, that would be excellent. Is there anyone out there with a CD burner?
- You can send your name to me via email after I get my account set up -- watch for an announcement. (I'm still working on thinking up a screenname. I've tried a bunch of them, but they were all taken. I can't believe there's someone else out there who knows the names of all those cartoon characters.)
- Benefits of Membership
- One more cool thing in your wallet to show girls at a bar.
- Earn valuable frequent flyer points (pending).
- Show card at gig, receive special limited edition hand stamp.
- Make a stand against corporate rock (until we sign a record deal).
- You can buy us drinks after the show.
It also doubled as Trent's homepage:
- Hey. I'm Trent Lane, lead singer and guitarist for Mystik Spiral. This is my homepage and the Spiral's virtual headquarters. I hope you get into it. Our drummer Max set it up. (He lent me a book that tells how to do HTML but I fell asleep every time I tried to read it. I mean, what kind of digital "revolution" is it when you still need books?)
- Soon you'll be able to play an interactive multimedia role-playing game based on the adventures of our band. I have a lot of cool ideas for it and I'm gonna get around to writing them down soon. So check back in a couple of days. Months, whatever.
- WHO WE ARE:
- Mystik Spiral performs a raw, naked brand of searing, anarchic sound. Our songs are stark reminders of the tortured human condition -- howling sonic poems of raw intensity. We will also play the hora upon request.
- WHAT WE DO:
- We are available for weddings, sweet sixteens, bar mitzvahs, acquittal parties, keggers. Not too early in the day, please. Sorry, we don't wear suits and ties, no matter how much you pay us. (Though Nicholas will DJ in a white tuxedo for a reasonable price. He's got a kid to support. He gives out keychains and other prizes. It's really kind of fun.)
- HOW TO BOOK US:
- Cash, check, or barter accepted. (I'm in the market for a beat-up motorcycle jacket or an ashtray in the shape of a Scottie dog.) Call 555-3877. If no one picks up, try again later. I probably kicked the phone over by mistake.
They also had wallpapers, sample songs, and lyric sheets:
- The music files on this page are digital, which kills me. To hear the Spiral through the rich, warm tones of analog recording, buy our 45 rpm single "Behind My Eyelids" in your local record shop. When you learn it's not there, ask the guy at the counter to order it. When he refuses, don't take it too hard. Good try, man.
- Our full-length CD will be out soon, if we can agree on the cover art and get the drum kit out of hock.
Trent Lane: vocals and guitar
Jesse Moreno: co-vocals and rhythm guitar
Max Tyler: drums
Nicholas Campbell: bass guitar
"Reburb" also cites Trent is responsible for "clapping", Jesse "lead 'yeah's", Nick "background 'yeah's", and Max "supportive perspiration, lip synch - but he's sensitive about it".
In "The Daria Database" (circa season 2), Jesse's younger brother Danny was the self-proclaimed "recording secretary" for their fan club - meaning he does all the writing for it - and was desperate to become their fifth member, thinking it would happen "next year". A year later, on the website's Fan Club section, Danny goes unmentioned.
"Reburb" says Jane used to be "director of band graphics until she got fed up with the whole spiral direction controversy and quit".
MTV's websites mention that Max and Nick are fed up of Trent and Jesse getting all the attention. "One Band, Napping" flipbook revealed Nick finally had a fan letter - from his mother.
Songs heard on Daria:
- Every Dog Has His Day
- Freaking Friends
- Icebox Woman
- Ow! My Face
- Little Sister
- Mr. Normal
- Been Workin' on the Railroad (cover version)
Glenn Eichler told Paste that he wrote most of these songs "just because it was fun".
According to Reburb, they are:
"Jane's Addiction, Morrissey, The Doors (the band, not the movie, which sucked), Cocteau Twins, Zappa, NIN, Nirvana, Gregorian Chants, thunder, the Banana Splits."
A list of influences shows how a group wants to present themselves to fans and the press, and Mystik Spiral's list of seven cool bands and three more idiosyncratic choices is typical of such lists. The list may make the group sound a little cooler and more interesting than it really is.
The influence of Nirvana on Mystik Spiral is obvious, and while the group doesn't play covers, in The Invitation, Jane mentions that Trent has been practicing the intro to their song "Come As You Are" (not a difficult bit to learn) over and over and over,
A few bands Trent likes are mentioned in the series: He has Korn, Prodigy, Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus posters in his room. In "That Was Then, This Is Dumb" he and Jesse compare the CD and vinyl editions of Frank Zappa's song "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama".
After the end of Daria, a pilot script was written for a spin-off starring the band. Mystik Spiral was originally reported to be in production in at least one article about "Is It College Yet?", but then the closure of MTV Animation was announced. The script wasn't seen until it was included on the Daria DVD boxset.
The pilot involved the band being conned by Max's brother into moving into a rundown house in the "cool town" Mirage, where they might hit the big time. The style of humour shown was different to Daria, lacking a sarcastic 'straight man' character and with some more surreal gags (Jesse managing to turn his new room into the exact same tip as his old one). It featured no Daria characters (outside of Spiral) and instead introduced new ones; whether it would have later shown any older ones (or at least Jane) at some point is unknown. Trent's voice actor Alvaro J. Gonzalez, in an interview with the Sheep's Fluff, said the show would have had the band "embark on a cross-country tour shedding riffs and experiencing all that life on the road has to offer".
Some new running gags and facets were introduced for the band members, such as Jesse turning out to be somehow capable of attracting girls with ease. Gonzalez also thought the spin-off would show whether Trent and the others really did just need a chance to be successful.
Glenn Eichler said in 2010 that "my only regret is that I never got to hear 'Incontinent Love' set to music".
For a specific synopsis, see Mystik Spiral pilot episode.
For the show's 20th anniversary, Susie Lewis explained how she thought the cast had turned out for Entertainment Weekly's Catching Up With The Daria Gang. It's bad news for Mystik Spiral: they've long ago ended, with Freaking Friends being their one-hit wonder (and not much of one).
It's all looking up for Trent though, as he now has a "functioning band" called Trent Lane and the Mystikal Explosion in Queens.
- "Before too long" from Wouter's "Art-I-fact" story is a song about Jane's departure from Lawndale in which Trent describes the anticipation of seeing her leave.
- "Rescue came too late" from Wouter's "I trust you", made up on the spot by Trent after Jane came in with a facial injury sustained during a one night stand with Max. Daria asked for "Full writer's credit" when her remark about crashing at Castle Combe racing track inspired the lyrics.
- "The bugs on my windshield spell out your name" a song made up on the PPMB during a fanon iron chef.
- "Ow! My Ears - The Mystik Spiral Story" features a list of songs inspired by things that are pissing off the Spiral at the time, including Low Healthbar, We Don't Need You, Please Just Go Away, and Fucking Elitist Fucks.
- The Zon
- McGrundy's Brew Pub
- The Iron Horse, formerly Club Cinderbloc, formerly Ron's Razor Wire Warehouse.