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Men At Work

Brooklyn’s The Men show a different side on their fifth album in five years, Tomorrow's Hits

By Jason Gargano · May 29th, 2014 · Music
music1_the_men_photo_kevin_faulknerPhoto: Kevin Faulkner
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The Men are busy. Formed in Brooklyn in 2008 by co-frontdudes/guitarists Mark Perro and Nick Chiericozzi, the current five-piece has dropped five albums in the last five years, the last four for its hometown label Sacred Bones. 

Each record has been slightly different, moving from the Hardcore roar of the first two to the steadily more diverse and tuneful stuff they’ve been cranking out since the critically lauded Open Your Heart surfaced in 2012. 

The Men’s latest, the ironically titled Tomorrow’s Hits, seems a blatant nod to ’70s Rock staples like Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd — of course, delivered in their own spirited, ramshackle way. 

CityBeat recently connected with Perro, who was speaking from the apartment where The Men conceived Tomorrow’s Hits.

CityBeat: The new record has a serious ’70s Rock vibe to it — at least to my ears. Why were you guys interested in going in that direction this time out?

Mark Perro: To be honest, I think it was an accident. I hear that too. It wasn’t really what we were going for. We wrote those songs in a very small way. We wrote those songs on acoustic guitars and at a piano very quietly. We were in my bedroom. We didn’t even need a vocal microphone because it was so quiet. We wanted to make a small record like that — a real raw, acoustic-sounding record. I don’t know how it turned into that. We just went into the studio and set up. 

I guess sometimes you don’t even know what you’re doing. You think you’re doing one thing and you end up doing something else and it comes out in a way you hadn’t imagined. I like the way it sounds. It’s interesting for me, listening back, because it’s like, “Oh, wow, this is different than we imagined it being.” But that’s OK. I’m happy with how it came out.

CB: So in a song like “Another Night,” what compelled you to think, “Hey, let’s add a sax part in here”?

MP: Nick and I started the band together, and one of our favorite records ever is Fun House by The Stooges.

We always thought it would be cool to use a saxophone on a song, but we didn’t know anyone to play it or whatever. But “Another Night” and “Pearly Gates” were just kind of screaming for it, so we brought in these two guys. We ran through the songs a couple times with them. They played live with us (in the studio). At that point we had a seven-piece band going. We did a couple takes of each song and that was it. They were in and out of the studio in a couple hours. It’s something we always wanted to do. We’re always chasing new sounds, and that was just something we hadn’t checked off the list yet.  

CB: And you recorded it at Strange Weather, which I hear is a pretty sweet studio. How did that impact the recording?

MP: It was the easiest studio we’ve ever worked at by far. That studio is just awesome. They have gear in there that we’ve never had access to. We always work in this ramshackle way. Like New Moon, we went into a house and basically made it into our studio. It was just a house. We were like, “Channel seven on our tape machine isn’t working.” We were always dealing with technical issues. Whereas in this studio everything was just in amazing condition. Better gear than we’ve ever used. It just made it so easy. That’s how we did the record in two days. We just set up and played. No technical problems. No messing around with tape machines. We would play, and then we went home. It was really easy.

CB: You actually recorded Tomorrow’s Hits a while back now. (It was recorded before their previous record, New Moon, came out last year.) How have the songs changed and evolved in a live setting?

MP: I think all our songs have gotten considerably better after we’ve recorded them. They change as you play, as you figure out new things you want to do. It’s boring to keep repeating yourself. If you kind of get locked into, “This is how the song goes and that is the end of that,” it gets kind of boring.

CB: It seems like you have a good thing going with the Sacred Bones label. In the age of the Internet, what role does a record label play for a band like yours these days?

MP: I think a record label still plays a pretty big role. I buy records. I just bought that new Swans record. People buy records. Obviously things have changed with the Internet. You can find out about stuff easier, and that’s cool, but for me, if I find something cool, I’m not satisfied with listening to it on my laptop. I need to have a real listening experience. I think a record label still plays a big part.

All the various formats work together well. It’s an embracing of the Internet rather than pretending it’s not a part of the world we’re living in. It’s OK that music is out there floating around. It’s just more things people can check out. But people are still going to want some sort of physical thing. A record is a beautiful thing. You hold it, you look it, you read the liner notes. Listening to an MP3 is not satisfying at all. I don’t think records are ever going to go away. 

CB: So are we going to get another new record next year?

MP: I don’t know. It’s impossible to say. You can’t force that, you know? The goal is to just write new music, which we haven’t done in far too long. That’s the goal, and as soon as that happens then I’m down. Luckily, for whatever reason, a creative force has pushed these records out of us. We didn’t necessarily try to write five records in five years.


THE MEN play a free show at The Comet (cometbar.com) on Thursday.

 
 
 
 

 

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