The Men on embracing Wikipedia, Sacred Bones, and ditching their day jobs

Categories: Q&A
Photo by Angel Ceballos

Influence and genre can be sore subjects with rock acts, especially those burgeoning towards that national arena. After all, no band wants to reconcile their creative output against the backdrop of taller, more established shadows.

But for all the lifted riffs or left-field Gram Parsons moments scattered through The Men's latest LP, Open Your Heart, co-founders and guitarists Mark Perro and Nick Chiericozzi have guided the Brooklyn group's current quartet roster to such a distilled place of confidence that most topics roll over them with the same brand of aloofness that drips from their records. Gimme Noise had the chance to discuss their kaleidoscopic ways with Perro before the Men bring their country-tinged, post-punk, neo-shoegaze tunes to the 7th Street Entry tonight.

You know, you guys are one tough act to research. I noticed the band doesn't have a Wikipedia page. Do you or Sacred Bones Records ever think about making one of those?

Mark Perro: I personally never thought of that, but I don't know how that stuff works. If someone else wants to make one, that's cool. We're not the most tech-savvy band. I don't really have Internet or anything, so I'm not about make one. But it would be cool if someone made one. I'd like to read about it myself.

Maybe I'll do that right after this.

MP: [laughs] Yeah, Based on this conversation alone.

So do you guys still have day jobs or has the Men been a full-time endeavor for a while?

MP: We don't have day jobs anymore. We've been touring pretty heavily for the past year. Nick and I used to work full-time. We worked in downtown Manhattan, and we both quit around May last year- right around the time Leave Home came out. We've just been doing the band since then.

What did you guys used to do?

MP: I was a customs broker for an art museum, and Nick was in finance actually.

Looking at "Leave Home" and now the new record, it seems like you guys are really conscious of how you begin an album. What kind of process guided the way you started Open Your Heart?

MP: I think the way we did it was the way we approached the new record in general. With Leave Home, we were going for more of a soundscape playing with noises and textures. With Open Your Heart we were trying to be a bit more direct, I guess, and trying to cut some of the fat of that stuff and just be direct and concise and focus on the songs.

From what I've listened to of your older singles, it seems like you guys have always celebrated the ability to bounce around stylistically. Since Leave Home was a bit of a breakout record, did you guys consciously choose to do something different from that?

MP: Not really. We never really approached any of our records trying to have this wide palate of stuff. Me and Nick write songs. [Bassist] Ben [Greenberg] writes songs now. We have a lot of different voices piping in with their own ideas, so it kind of turns into what some people would say is this wide array of stuff. I don't look at it like that. I always thought of it all as what we do and who we are. I never saw it as disconnected or all over the place. We're people with a lot of different influences and ideas and things we want to try and do. I think we just try to not put any limits or expectations on what we're doing. So we just go with what sounds good at the moment.

So talking about what sounds good at the moment, Open Your Heart is a comparatively positive and life-affirming collection of songs. Was there anything specific that led to that sound at the time of writing?

MP: For myself and trying to reach a place of positivity, I think I wanted more of a hopeful record. It's like, I don't want to be in these dark places. I want to be in places of positivity. Life-affirming, I guess, is a good word -- something to feel good about. Music can fill any sort of hole in your life. It can make you feel worse and it can make you feel better. Life is hard enough as it is, and you've got to try and find things that make you feel happy in life. I think that with this record we were just trying to make something that would make us feel a little better.

One of the most striking songs on Open Your Heart is "Candy" just because of how melodic and atypical it is for you guys. Have you guys written songs like that before?

MP: Nick and I have always dabbled in that stuff. We always write on acoustic guitars. We've love country music and have always messed with those things. But we come from a punk background, so we're always playing punk shows with punk bands. You know, there's kind of always this unspoken pressure about what you can do and what you can't do. With that song, we were finally like, ""Screw it. We believe in this song." We finally found the confidence or felt that we got a song like that to a point that was good enough that we could feel good about it.

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