From Underground: The Rise and Fall of Mook
April 25, 2023
Nepo Baby? Nope.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, there’s a very small chance that you haven’t heard of Paul Dano. Starring most recently in The Fabelmans, as young Stephen Spielberg, and The Batman, as The Riddler, Dano has made his mark in the industry since beginning his acting career in 1996 with small stage roles.
But, most people don’t know that Dano had a band that lasted from about 2009 to 2016 called Mook, which released two albums: The Eggs in 2007 and Mook in 2011. The band comprised of Dano and three friends: Gus Johnson, Dan Kreiger, and Rob Bruce. Dano was the lead guitarist and vocalist, Johnson was the drummer, Kreiger was the piano and keyboard player, and Bruce was the bassist. Dano described the music as a “kind of rock music, but it’s a little left-of-center…Some have referred to it as ‘carny rock.’” The band derived their name from the slang term for an insignificant person, defending their decision by saying that they “believe the band has a collective inferiority complex.”
Despite the fact that the band’s last album was released in 2011 and that they only have 17 songs, they still maintain a faithful following and about 100,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. The band regained some popularity through TikTok, when a few of their songs went viral around the time that The Batman came out.
Growing up in Connecticut, Dano was able to spark his career with various stage roles before moving into the film industry. His first major role was in Little Miss Sunshine in 2007, which was critically acclaimed and won many significant awards. Propelled into the spotlight, Dano went on to play supporting roles in films like Looper, Being Flynn, 12 Years a Slave, Love & Mercy, Prisoners, and Escape at Dannemora, as well as lead roles in Ruby Sparks, War and Peace, There Will Be Blood, Swiss Army Man, and Okja.
Unfortunately, the band no longer makes music and it is difficult to find much about them online. When looking into their history, I had to scour YouTube for listenable performances, follow dead-end MySpace links, and frequent the WayBack Machine for articles that no longer exist on the internet. It is truly a shame that the group stopped making music, but we are lucky that the band still has their music posted online.
And beyond music and acting, Dano continues to expand his talents. He directed Wildlife in 2018 which starred Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal and received very positive reviews, as well as being granted the status of Certified Fresh by Rotten Tomatoes, with critics stating that the “portrait of a family in crisis [was] beautifully composed by director Paul Dano.” He also created and wrote The Riddler: Year One, which was a 6 issue limited series for DC that delved into the “character’s life and his descent into criminality before the events of the film.”
Essential Listens: entire discography (especially “From Underground,” “Darkling,” “She Sings”)
Links to some older performances:
– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofH8g8vxv8A&list=PLxomtPhL7WPhdXnIuRkPX81yJ qxunUl-G&index=10