Matt Mueller's tremendous passion for life and music remembered by friends

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Matt Mueller, former Pachyderm Studio owner, dies in car accident

Matt Mueller, a businessman, father of two, and music devotee with strong ties throughout the Midwest, was tragically killed in a traffic accident on Monday evening. He was 42, and was best known in the Minnesota community as the former owner of Cannon Falls-based Pachyderm Studio.

City Pages reached some of Mueller's friends and studio mates to uncover details of his one-of-a-kind life -- including Rocket Club vocalist-keyboardist Don Smithmier, who has a history with him that spans past three decades. As Smithmier says, "Matt wasn't big on secrets anyway."

Smithmier says they met in 1982, when Mueller moved to McFarland, Wisconsin. "It was a very small town, any time somebody new moved to town, it was scandalous," he says. "It was totally exciting any time there's a new person in town. But it wasn't just anyone, it was Matt. He probably wasn't even five feet tall at the time, but he put on an air like he ran the school."

The pair went on to be in school plays, and played baseball, basketball, and football together. "We got in a lot of trouble together too," Smithmier adds with a laugh. "I think I've had five run-ins with the law in my life, and he was responsible for four of them."

After they graduated in 1988, Mueller went straight into the mortgage lending business with his father. This made for good years during the boom of mortgage industry and harder ones during the bust. "He had great depth," Smithmier says. "He was deceptively smart, really sensitive, extremely giving, and fiercely loyal to his friends and family.  He also had a great work ethic that I think gave him an edge in everything he did." His many ventures included owning a music shop in Madison, the Cardinal Bar in Madison, a piece of a resort in Jamaica, and then Pachyderm Studios.

"He had a tremendous passion for life and music," says studio engineer Paul Marino, who started working regularly at the studio in 2004, took a three-week trip to Africa with Mueller to do recording for the dance troupe Les Ballets Africains. It was right before he bought Pachyderm, according to Marino, and the trip symbolized Mueller's "courage to pursue projects that other people would balk at." They last spoke in early August, and Marino says Mueller was in good spirits during a call that mostly was just catching up.
Another one of Mueller's associates at the studios was Littlebig Studios' Brent Sigmeth, who took a break from recording with Haley Bonar today to tell City Pages: "I'll say this about Matt: No one could keep up with that guy. He was a force who could juggle about 37 visible or invisible motives at once. I remember him saying to me, 'You'll never meet anyone like me in your life.' How true. Sad to see him go and leave behind such a young family."

That final day that Smithmier spent with Mueller was a fitting one. They met unexpectedly at the annual Detroit Lakes country music festival We Fest in 2011. 

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I don't know where to start with the BS in this article.  Mueller was a menace to everyone he ever did business with.  He drove Pachyderm studios into the ground.  he died by causing a traffic accident that could have killed a man and his two children.  He drove over a double line blind in traffic.  I was on a tour with him once and he did this driving CONSTANTLY.  It wasnt thrill seeking, the guy was just an A-hole.  OH and that trip to africa he took with this guy.  you might want to look into how well that recording went.  Mueller and Mamoudou Conde were exploiting those drummers for years and paying them nothing.  They tried to defraud the canadian Consulate in 2009 and NONE of the groups have toured the US or canada since.  It is important to remember the reality of this man's life. He was a perfect example of what NOT to do.  His romantic relationships were all abusive.  He terrorised women constantly.  Just get your facts straight.

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