an interview with The Menzingers, who are streaming their new ‘Rented World’ LP (listen)
by Andrew Sacher
The Menzingers will release their fourth album, Rented World, next week (4/22) via Epitaph (pre-order), and after revealing singles "In Remission" and "I Don't Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore," they've now made the whole album available to stream. The new album has some more studio shine than their past material (they worked with engineer Jon Low, who normally works with non-punk musicians like Kurt Vile and The National), but there's more aggression in the songs too. Many of them favor big, heavy '90s grunge riffs over the pop punk of their last album. Their knack for Craig Finn-like storytelling still shows up too, like on album highlight "Nothing Feels Good Anymore": "I'm at the party in a cloud of nicotine exhaled by drunk twentysomethings / there's a couple arguing in the bathroom, some couple kids trying to get high." Listen to the new record, via Spin, below.
The band are also supporting the new album on a previously discussed tour with Lemuria, PUP and Cayetana which hits NYC for what will by far be their largest headlining show here yet on May 30 at Webster Hall. Tickets for that show are still available.
Ahead of the tour and album release, I cornered co-vocalist/guitarist Tom May and talked to him about their NYC shows, the new record and their thriving Philly scene (which includes tourmates Cayetana). You can check out the interview, with their list of tour dates and the album stream, below...
The Menzingers - Rented World
BV: The last time I saw you in NYC you dedicated a song to anyone who ever saw you at 538 Johnson. What's it like now that you're about to headline the much bigger Webster Hall?
Tom May: It's certainly a trip! It's something I feel we always kept in the back of our heads; playing bigger venues like that. I don't miss chipping teeth on microphones and getting gallons of beer spilled all over my shit, but those were some of the wildest shows we played, and those were some of the best nights of my life. Most people will go through life without experiencing nights like those.
Another aspect of playing bigger venues is that we can't suck. That sounds like a redundant statement. In reality we have to put a lot more into our live shows. We have to play much longer much better sets and take into consideration parts of production to make it an actual "show".
BV: What's your favorite show that you've played in NYC?
Tom: My favorite show we have ever played was the show we played recently at The Bowery Ballroom. It sold out months in advance. It was a validation of everything we've ever done. We drove two hours from Philly with some of our best friends and had a giant party. We had a few hiccups but I think that's why I loved it so much. It was the exemplification of everything our band is.
BV: You've mentioned it was a conscious decision to go with an engineer who doesn't normally record punk records for the new album. How did that end up working out?
Tom: Working with Jon Low was fantastic. We wanted to stay home to record this last record. Every morning we drove to the studio together, spent the entire day in the city, then drove home to our own beds at night. It was a unique experience for us and certainly a positive one.
Jon's familiarity with equipment and his perspective on the construction of a recording were invaluable. He records such a wide ranging group of artists and he definitely drew from all over the sonic cornucopia he's got caged up in head. There were a lot of times on this record where someone would be playing something, and Jon would just say, "Why?", and eventually I realized he was helping the songs to breathe and come to life. We couldn't be happier.
BV: It's your fourth album in about seven years. How would you say The Menzingers have evolved as a band in that time?
Tom: Seven years ago I was 20 years old. I'm now 27. We've lived and learned, loved and lost, fell and got back up, and each year that passes it feels that our eyes get wider. I'd say we've grown up. A lot. But not too much of course...
BV: Last fall you played a couple shows where almost all the openers were other Philly bands. It seems like Philly's punk scene is pretty much killing it right now. Any other bands from there that you've been digging?
Tom: Oh yeah, Philadelphia has the best music scene in the country. I've been listening to a lot of Restorations, Three Man Cannon, Kite Party, and Cayetana recently. There's so many fucking rad bands I can't list them.
BV: What would your metal band name be?
Tom: Christstabber, Brooklyn Carnivore, SIDS, Virgin Prelapse, Audioslav, Dick Tick
The Menzingers -- 2014 Tour Dates
May 29 Providence, RI - The Met *
May 30 New York, NY - Webster Hall *
May 31 Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer *
June 01 Washington DC - Rock and Roll Hotel *
June 02 Rochester, NY - The Bugjar *
June 03 Toronto ON - Opera House *
June 04 Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop *
June 05 Pittsburgh, PA - Altar Bar *
June 06 Chicago, IL - Bottom Lounge *
June 07 Minneapolis, MN - Triple Rock *
June 08 Des Moines, IA - Vaudeville Mews *
June 10 Davenport, IA - River City Experience *
June 11 St. Louis MO - Firebird *
June 13 Denver, CO - Marquis *
June 14 Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court *
June 15 Boise, ID - The Shredder *
June 17 Seattle, WA - El Corazon *
June 18 Portland, OR - Branx *
June 20 San Francisco, CA - Slims *
June 21 Los Angeles, CA - The Roxy *
June 22 San Diego, CA - The Irenic *
June 23 Phoenix, AZ - Pub Rock *
June 24 Albuquerque, NM - Launchpad *
June 26 Austin, TX - Red 7 Inside *
June 29 Houston, TX - Fitzgeralds Downstairs*
June 30 New Orleans, LA - Siberia *
July 02 Tampa FL - Orpheum *
July 03 Orlando, FL - The Social *
July 04 Atlanta, GA - The Masquerade - Middle *
July 05 Richmond, VA - Strange Matter *
July 06 Baltimore, MD - Ottobar *
Oct 31 - Nov 2 Gainesville, FL - The Fest
* - w/ Lemuria, PUP, Cayetana