Existence is without meaning; to exist is to suffer. For Joe Mulherin, a man who’s spent a life and career trying to make a friend out of pain, that’s the whole beauty of it. For almost a decade, Mulherin has been applying these Buddhist and Taoist-derived principles to his project nothing,nowhere.—a moniker inspired by the philosopher Alan Watts’ famous lecture on the importance of nothingness. On his latest album Void Eternal he embraces the pointless pain and chasm of consciousness like never before, venturing down into the basement of his being to present his rawest and most challenging work yet. On first listen, the album might sound like a suicide note. In reality, it’s the very opposite. Void Eternal is the ultimate peace pact with pain. It takes you by the hand, shows you that the beauty of suffering is in the lessons it offers; that the beauty of meaninglessness is in how we create our own meaning.
Void Eternal isn’t so much a death but a total rebirth for nothing,nowhere. Now that he’s turned his depression into positive aggression, Mulherin is entering into a new, heavier era—one that’s the truest representation of the artist yet. Having gained critical and commercial success, as well as respect from the titans of the emo adjacent scene—including Pete Wentz who signed nothing,nowhere. to his DCD2 label upon first hearing him, and Travis Barker, with whom he made a collaborative EP in 2019—Mulherin is stepping into a totally new chapter. But the pain-befriending philosophy of nothing,nowhere. remains the same.
The story of nothing,nowhere. can be traced back to Mulherin’s first panic attack. “That’s what I always come back to,” he says today, snow streaming behind him on his multi-acre Vermont home. A 7 year-old in smalltown Foxborough, Massachusetts, Mulherin began hyperventilating in his school cafeteria, everything around him spinning, nausea overtaking him. The attacks kept coming. There was no one he could relate to, no salve to help cope with the pain. Then, he discovered Linkin Park. “I remember crying when I first heard them,” he says. “I had never cried from music or known that that was even possible because before Linkin Park. It was such a powerful and poignant and important pivotal moment in my life that I could never ever forget.” After Linkin Park came Underoath and Silverstein—the singers of which appear on Void Eternal, alongside Pete Wentz, who broke his 10 year screaming hiatus for the sake of this album.
“I can’t believe the features we got. It’s a dream come true for me. This is my DNA. If I were to take a time machine and tell 6th grade me that these bands would be on my record I would probably lose my mind. This record is me. It’s Joe Mulherin in my very purest form.”
Void Eternal is a total 180 from 2020’s Trauma Factory. While the latter was recorded in LA, with the intention of flirting with the mainstream (which it did, having placed on numerous Billboard charts) Void Eternal is a wholly homespun affair, built without an audience in mind. Recorded in his self-built studio—a restored barn overlooking the woods on his property—Mulherin mostly created in isolation, only inviting in former Counterparts’ guitarist Blake Hardman, engineer Brody McKeegan, producer Taylor Morgan, and a few other close friends.
The result is filthy, in-your-face, pit-opening. It’s the sound of Mulherin’s musical upbringing. “I’ve always been a fan of heavy music but I’ve never, as nothing, nowhere., been in that space,” he says. “But with this album, I’m more or less just saying ‘fuck it’, I wanna just make stuff that I like and stuff that I’m influenced by and grew up on. I’m here in the heavy music space now and that’s where I wanna be, that’s where I’m gonna stay. It feels like I came home.”
Void Eternal is Mulherin’s boldest offering yet; its 12 tracks a journey into the darkness—a path that Mulherin walks down as far as it will go. “I wanna be what bands like Linkin Park were to me. I wanna provide that level of inspiration and comfort and I wanna be a safe haven to a kid who is struggling,” says Mulherin, the snow settling, a cat curling its tail around his neck. “I made it exactly how I wanted to with 0 outside influence. This is the purest expression I could put down in audio form. This is the music that made me and I want to return the favor.”