How emo-rap star NOTHING,NOWHERE. got the guts to embrace his metal side | Revolver

How emo-rap star NOTHING,NOWHERE. got the guts to embrace his metal side

"I want the world to listen to better music"
Nothing nowhere portrait 1600x900 crop , Jonathan Weiner
photograph by Jonathan Weiner

Revolver has teamed with nothing,nowhere. for an exclusive, limited-edition vinyl variant of his new album, VOID ETERNAL. Only 350 made — order yours now!

"It feels like a return to my roots. Not as nothing,nowhere., but as a human being."

Joe Mulherin smiles as these words leave his lips.

There's an overarching joy in the emo-rap star's tone as he talks about his new and fifth album VOID ETERNAL. It's a poignant benchmark in his career; a record on which he was finally able to abandon self-doubt and fully embrace a formative side of his musical passion that had long been subdued: heavy metal.

Coming up through the alt-rap boom that took bedroom producers from SoundCloud to superstardom, the last seven years have seen the nothing,nowhere. mastermind go above and beyond his own expectations. Specializing in a despondent brand of emotionally intense alternative hip-hop, Mulherin caught the attention of Fueled By Ramen very early on, and, with each release, has proven himself to be one of the most consistently cathartic, adventurous and popular artists in whatever lane he's traveled. The brooding hypnotic trap of "hammer," for example, has racked up over 54 million streams on Spotify, while the heart-wrenching, melodic rock of "fake friend" broke nothing,nowhere. into Billboard's Alternative Airplay Chart. Over the years, Mulherin has also worked alongside scene legends Travis Barker and Dashboard Confessional, collabed with deadmau5 and ILLENIUM, opened for Fall Out Boy and Good Charlotte and received critical acclaim from mainstream outlets including The New York Times, Rolling Stone and more.

Nothing nowhere white background UNCROPPED , Jonathan Weiner
photograph by Jonathan Weiner

But with VOID ETERNAL, Mulherin realized it was time to do something a bit different and delve back into his first true love. "I think when people listen to my older songs, or the songs I have on the radio, they would be surprised to know that deathcore, hardcore and post-hardcore are my favorite genres," he says. "To create something like this feels like I'm repaying the favor. It's a real full-circle moment."

"This is something that I have always wanted to do," Mulherin continues, "but the voice in my head kept saying that I shouldn't do it or release it because I wasn't an established band. I was always skeptical, even though it has been the music I love the most. It's just different now, and I feel like I'm landing on a new planet because of it. It's a very sharp turn, but it is my truth, and it feels natural. I put up these walls for so long, and I considered people's expectations more than my desire to create something that I wanted to. And because of that, VOID ETERNAL is the purest expression of myself that I have ever created."

Mulherin may have tempered his heavy-music predilections in the past, but he's never hidden them. He often sports a Nails hoodie, and 2020's gnarly "DEATH" is nothing,nowhere.'s take on industrial post-hardcore, the video for which features Mulherin cloaked in black, draped in chains and absolutely raging.

But VOID ETERNAL is what happens when you cannonball rather than dip your toes. nothing,nowhere.'s new 12-song collection is a corrosive, contortive blend of raw screams and incendiary bars wrapped in the most brazen of metal riffs and razor-sharp production. It also features a plethora of special guests: from established icons — Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz and Silverstein's Shane Told — to rising trailblazers, including SeeYouSpaceCowboy's Connie Sgarbossa, Static Dress' Olli Appleyard and rapper Freddie Dredd. There's even a raucous guest shot from Lorna Shore's Will Ramos showcasing a new shade of his incredible vocal range.

It is a bold and hard-earned statement that firmly places nothing,nowhere. as one of the most exciting voices in the scene. And in many ways, VOID ETERNAL is the perfect record to represent what's happening in heavy music in 2023. No rules. Nothing off-limits. Whatever feels right is the right thing to do.

Mulherin is talking to Revolver in late January from Reaper Ranch, his gorgeous kingdom of solitude in the heart of the Vermont wilderness. In the main house, exposed wooden beams hold up its towering ceiling, and its pristine wall-length windows let the natural light shine and fill the whole space from dawn till dusk. His cat Boo sticks their head out from the top of the open stairs, looking curiously around at what is happening before quickly popping back out of sight. There are currently about eight inches of snow outside, adding even more depth to the beautiful silence surrounding the land. When he isn't spending time tending to his chickens, Mulherin can be found exploring the woods behind his home, extracting maple from the trees or building fires and meditating on the life he has created for himself.

Such a tranquil environment is a stark contrast to the dark, aggressive songs Mulherin was writing for VOID ETERNAL, which he recorded entirely in the beautiful studio built within his barn. But after making his previous full-length, 2021's Trauma Factory, mostly in L.A. alongside producer Zakk Cervini and surrounded by outside voices, being able to carve out the sound he always wanted in a place he feels the calmest and most collected was a pleasure he didn't take for granted.

"In the past, I have had people in my ears saying that if I did something a certain way I would make more money, but it was more about whether or not it was right for me," he says. "Money is always going to be the driving factor for everything, and alternative music has become a part of that in recent years. But at the end of the day, people underestimate their audience — the real ones will notice what the fake shit is and what the real shit is. … I'm not fussed if the grocery store plays my music. It's about me being happy and proud of what I do."

He grins. "If you're putting a breakdown in a song, I'm sure your first intention isn't to go No. 1 on the Billboard charts. You're making the music you want to make, and that's where I am."

Today, Mulherin speaks with refreshing candor about his ambitions — but the road to these personal and professional insights hasn't always been the easiest one to navigate. Back in 2015, when he posted his first music as nothing,nowhere. on SoundCloud, the ethereal "don't mind me," it was simply to get thoughts out of his head and off his desktop — a vessel to provide himself with a glimmer of peace when he had struggled to find some. And overnight, he became an underground sensation, racking up over half a million streams in the blink of an eye.

Ever since, he's been fighting against the voices in his head that make him question whether he is worthy of all this attention. That push and pull between confidence and self-doubt has always plagued him, resulting in the employment of different coping techniques along the way: remaining anonymous for the early part of his career and then, later, keeping his face covered in photos.

"I've struggled with imposter syndrome for a long time. With every milestone I reach, there's a new reason for my brain to make me feel not worthy and inadequate," he admits. "It's always been there, but it's only recently that I really started to tell myself that I should be allowed to express myself authentically and I deserve to be where I am. I've worked hard. I feel like I took the scenic route to get to here."

Too rap for rock, too rock for rap and possibly too dark for both — nothing,nowhere. has always had to find its own way. However, that's also where Mulherin thrives as an artist. He's been able to fight the demons in his head by telling them he is happy and settled in being the outlier; it's one of his biggest strengths and something he continues to be proud of to this day.

Nothing nowhere hands face UNCROPPED, Jonathan Weiner
photograph by Jonathan Weiner

"From the very beginning of nothing,nowhere., even then, I knew what I was doing was something that nobody else was," he says. "When the scene formed around what I did, I then went and tried to do something else. When that shifted, I moved into something else again. I never want to be comfortable in a space because I don't want to blend in with anybody. You can't grow if you simply become complacent."

Enter VOID ETERNAL, the record that Mulherin describes as "the final boss" in his journey to becoming the artist he has always wanted to be. A culmination of his love for all things brutal, both musically and lyrically, it delivers heart-stopping emotion alongside crushing brute force like it's second nature. There's the industrial grit of Code Orange, whose own Eric "Shade" Balderose directed the visualizer for "MEMORY_FRACTURE," and the shirt-tugging intensity of Underoath on "VEN0M." Then you have the discordance of Poison the Well ("TRAG3DY"), the raging rap-metal of Linkin Park ("THIRST4VIOLENCE") and the darkness of the Red Chord ("SUICIDE_PACT") — every track celebrating what has come before while pushing the form into the future.

It's a bleak, powerful album. Desolate poetry and achingly melodic moments go head-to-head with skull-cracking riffs and guttural bellows — resulting in a beautiful chaos. For Mulherin, that chaos comes from a place of clarity.

"I have really been into stoicism recently," he says with a nod. "I love philosophy, and I've been reading Marcus Aurelius' work on meditations. This record sounds really hopeless and bleak and dark. But with stoicism, there is a disturbing reality that nothing matters. That's the conclusion that you come to. Nothing matters, but at the same time, there's beauty in that.

"You create your own meaning," he continues. "What matters is what you make matter. So that's why the lyrical content is so brutal because it is what matters to me. It is my self-therapy. And being on my own quiet plot of land, next to a town of 2,000 people who probably have no idea what post-hardcore is, really allowed me to scream my thoughts and insecurities as loud as I could — and mean them."

Nothing nowhere live getty UNCROPPED , Stephen J. Cohen/Getty Images
photograph by Stephen J. Cohen/Getty Images

And to be able to express that alongside talents like Will Ramos — who delivers a vocal on the emotional, turbulent "TRAG3DY" unlike anything he has committed to tape — is something that Mulherin appreciates even more.

"With Will, people are always expecting him to do the same thing that he has become famous for, and I can relate to that from the emo-rap perspective," he says. "It's nice when someone approaches you with something different, and that's exactly what Will brought to the table. He is so talented as a vocalist that it doesn't matter what you give him. You could give him a jazz track, and he would find a way to make it work. It was an honor to have someone like him on the record, the most talked-about screamer in the world right now."

Mulherin pauses, adding, "When I posted my first song, if you had said that I would be collaborating with a deathcore vocalist one day, it wouldn't make sense. But I'm so glad that it does now."

As a community, heavy music is, arguably, experiencing one of the most expansive periods in its history. And artists like nothing,nowhere. becoming a part of the genre in such a vicious and visceral way makes it even more exciting and colorful. Mulherin is on a mission to share that color with as many people as he can.

"I want the world to listen to better music," he says, with a laugh. "So, I'm trying to put people onto it with this album as much as anything. I know a lot of nothing,nowhere. fans don't have the same music taste that I do, but they find out about so much just from supporting me. To be able to share something that I love with people that may never have been exposed to it otherwise is crazy."

Mulherin will launch his campaign to improve the world's listening habits later this year, when he hits the road with Wage War and Spite to show a whole new audience what he is capable of — and hopefully turn some more moshers into nothing,nowhere converts.

Nothing nowhere closeup portrait UNCROPPED , Jonathan Weiner
photograph by Jonathan Weiner

Since its start, nothing,nowhere. has given Mulherin a place to share his innermost thoughts and feelings in a way that he couldn't anywhere else, and VOID ETERNAL has allowed him to unlock doors that he probably didn't know were there. So, as he looks forward, he's safe in the knowledge that this music and his scene has changed him for the better, much like it has changed all of us.

"I never really considered just how positively my own music could impact my own personal growth," says Mulherin. "With all of the insecurities and self-doubt I have had over the course of nothing,nowhere., it may have stifled me in the past because I didn't feel worthy. But I know that I have always deserved to be here. Now I have this belief and confidence; it's a dangerous thing because the sky really is the limit. I grew up being severely impacted by the power of heavy music and how it can soothe the soul, and now I am able to provide that for other people. I have proven myself in every single corner of music, worked with the best of the best and conquered my inner demons. Now, I feel like the real work begins."