Mudvayne formed in 1996 in Bloomington, Illinois, and originally consisted of Chad Gray, Greg Tribbett and Matthew McDonough. After a year of performing on the local circuit, the band’s line-up was finalized with bassist Ryan Martinie, and they self-financed the recording of an extended play, Kill, I Oughtta, which the band independently released themselves. Following the release of the EP, the band adopted stage names and facepaint.
In April 1998 local promoter Steve Soderstrom introduced the band their original manager Chuck Toler who helped get the band a contract with Epic Records, and recorded their debut studio album, L.D. 50 (2000). For the album, Mudvayne experimented with a ragged, dissonant sound; a sound collage prepared for the album appeared as a series of interludes. L.D. 50 was produced by Garth “GGGarth” Richardson and executive produced by Slipknot member Shawn Crahan. L.D. 50 peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart and No. 85 on the Billboard 200. The singles “Dig” and “Death Blooms” peaked at No. 33 and No. 32 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The album was appraised for its technicality and heaviness, although some critics found the band hard to take seriously.
To promote the album, Mudvayne played on the Tattoo the Earth tour alongside Nothingface, Slayer, Slipknot and Sevendust. Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell became friends with Mudvayne vocalist Chad Gray, and they talked about the possibility of forming a supergroup. The following year, Nothingface toured with Mudvayne and talks to form the supergroup continued, although were constantly put on hold due to scheduling conflicts. At this time, Gray and Maxwell had brainstormed five band names. Mudvayne guitarist Greg Tribbett approached Maxwell “out of the blue” and wanted to join the band. Nothingface drummer Tommy Sickles originally helmed the drum kit for the band’s demo, however, things did not work out and the search for a new drummer began.
In 2002, Mudvayne released the album The End of All Things to Come, which the band considers to be their “black album”, due to its largely black artwork. Isolation provided inspiration for the album’s songwriting. The album expanded upon the sound of L.D. 50 with a wider range of riffs, tempos, moods and vocalization. As a result of this experimentation, Entertainment Weekly deemed this album to be more “user-friendly” than its predecessor; it subsequently went on to become one of 2002’s most acclaimed heavy metal albums.
The music video for the single “Not Falling” revealed the transition from the band’s makeup design from their previous album by having the band members being transformed into veiny creatures with white, egg-colored bug eyes.
In 2003, Mudvayne participated in the Summer Sanitarium Tour, headlined by Metallica. In 2004, they began working on their third studio album, Lost and Found, with Dave Fortman; As with the band’s previous album, Mudvayne chose to isolate themselves to provide inspiration for their songwriting, moving into a house together and writing the album in four months, after which recording commenced. The album, released on April 12, 2005, departed from the sound of previous albums; the album’s first single, “Happy?” featured complex guitar playing, while the song “Choices” was described by Gray as “the eight-minute opus”.
During the mixing of The End of All Things to Come, Gray and McDonough stopped at Bob’s Big Boy, and Gray recalled that he overheard someone “say something like, ‘… and he’s got to cut his own eye out’”. When Gray asked McDonough if he had heard the conversation, McDonough said that he hadn’t, and Gray figured that it was someone discussing a scene from a film screenplay. In September 2005, the band met with film director Darren Lynn Bousman, whose film Saw II was in production and would feature the single “Forget to Remember”, from Lost and Found. Bousman showed them a scene depicting a man cutting his own eye out of his skull to retrieve a key. Gray told Bousman about the conversation at Bob’s Big Boy two years earlier, and Bousman revealed that he holds his production meetings at the restaurant, and that Saw II had been based on a screenplay Bousman wrote years earlier. Gray appeared in a small role in the film, and a music video was produced for “Forget to Remember”, which featured clips from the film.
In 2006, Gray, Tribbett and Tom Maxwell were joined by former Pantera and Damageplan drummer Vinnie Paul for their supergroup Hellyeah. During the summer of 2006, schedules were clear, which allowed members to take the time to record a studio album. Following a tour with Sevendust, Mudvayne released the retrospective compilation, By the People, for the People in 2007, which was compiled from selections voted for by fans through the band’s website. The compilation debuted at number 51 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, selling about 22,000 copies in its first week. After the return of Gray and Tribbett from their touring commitments with side project Hellyeah, Mudvayne began the recording process for The New Game with Fortman. After the album was released in 2008, Fortman reported to MTV that the album will be followed six months later by a second full-length record.
For the release of their self-titled fifth studio album, Mudvayne hoped to create their “white album”, which would be reflected through the cover art. It was recorded during Summer 2008 in El Paso, Texas. The album was printed entirely in blacklight-reactive ink, making it only visible under a black light, a source of light whose wavelengths are primarily in the ultraviolet. In 2008 , the band once again went on hiatus to allow Gray and Tribbett to tour with Hellyeah, and because of the new Hellyeah record, Mudvayne will be on hiatus at least until 2014. On 3/31/2014, Mudvayne posted the following message to their Facebook account:
“Final Explanation.. Mudvayne is on Hiatus.. With respect to all the band members, we are all doing something in Music that satisfies our appetite right now. When the time is right, Mudvayne WILL be back in action. In no shape or form is this a disrespect to our Fans. We Love our Fans and will give them all they can handle when it is Time. Til then, Patience is needed. Sincerely Mudvayne.