Drummer Jon Mueller is mostly known for his involvement in the U.S. Midwest post-rock group Pele. He is also a member of Telecognac, Collections of Colonies of Bees, and Raccoons (all four groups also include guitarist Chris Rosenau). His music covers a wide ground that stretches from alternative rock and post-rock derivative of Tortoise at one end and forays into free improvisation and sound art at the other. The latter part of his activities has mostly been documented on his own record label, Crouton Music. His creative drumming style ranges from fire music madness to extremely delicate textures that have little to do with conventional drumming. He lists as influences Univers Zero's Daniel Denis, improv maverick Han Bennink, and speed metal superhuman Dave Lombardo, among others.
Mueller was born in 1970 and remained anchored in the Chicago/Milwaukee axis. He studied drums with avant-garde jazz icon and NRG Ensemble leader Hal Russell just prior to Russell's death in 1992. That experience provided the impetus to resolutely turn to music, and Mueller began to put together one project after another. One of the first groups was Telecognac, his long-standing (although only part-time active) duo with Rosenau, which released its first album in 1997. Meanwhile, the two were rehearsing with bassist Matt Tennessen under the name Tussin, an instrumental post-rock outfit. The project finally materialized when Scott Schoenbeck stepped in and renamed it Pele. After the addition of Scott Beschta in mid-1997, the group recorded its debut Teaching the History of Teaching Geography, released in 1998 (Beschta and Schoenbeck later quit and Tennessen was brought back in). Pele remains Mueller's most successful endeavor, having built a following throughout the United States.
His collaboration with Rosenau took more forms (including the free improv trio Raccoons with instrument-builder Hal Rammel), but the drummer also appeared in Fred Lonberg-Holm's Lightbox Orchestra and on-stage alongside international avant-garde artists such as Boris Hauf, Asmus Tietchens, and Achim Wollscheid.
In 1999, Mueller started the label Crouton and released his first solo album, Pianobread, a CD of free improv collaborations accompanied by a novella he also wrote. The label has grown to include a webzine and online shop, all of which Mueller juggles together with his various musical projects and a day job as a sales and marketing rep. ~ François Couture