Man Man

derek Miller started his review of Six Demon Bag with the following: “There’s a fiesta foaming in the drunk tank again. The inmates have doped the lawmen and hollowed out their few toilet rolls for percussion. They’ve pulled their teeth and thrown them at the bars, plink, plunk, and pink plop.” We can think of no better introduction to this interview with Honus Honus of Man Man.

What’s been the major difference between your first tour and this summer’s?

More kids know about us, which is awesome. The one frustrating thing is even now, having toured our asses off, even touring with Modest Mouse, kids can’t get our records. I think its retarded to tour with Modest Mouse, play to 60,000 kids and not have any kids find our records. There are a lot of kids who don’t know about us.

Speaking of records, what role did Ace Fu play? Good? Bad?

There were no hard feelings with Ace Fu. Did two records. Now done. They didn’t promote the first album. The new record is in mixing right now.

And the Modest Mouse tour?

It was amazing. We didn’t know what it would be like. We didn’t know if people would be assholes or want to start mosh fights. It actually turned out to be a bunch of young kids. The guys from Modest Mouse are great. Isaac is a fan of the music. Playing to the Modest Mouse crowd was great because I would guess 50% of the audience knew who we were, but the remainder wasn’t expecting what we had. It could have blown up in our faces. We could have had beer cans thrown at us, but they were into it. Kids who weren’t jaded, you know? We’ve noticed a lot at our shows. We try to make them all ages as much as possible. Our last Philly show was in January. The audience was mainly between 14-16. Initial fans’ younger brothers and sisters. It was weird, but amazing. If we can somehow reach those kids…. It’s subversive as hell that Modest Mouse can get a number one record. Yeah, it’s rock music, but it’s also fucking weird. That band can infiltrate the same “market” that ICP or Linkin Park has a hold over.

How would you describe Modest Mouse?

Modest Mouse is a gateway drug to better music.

How does songwriting generally take place? Is there a difference with the new line-up of members?

It’s pretty much the same. Basically I don’t know what I’m doing, everyone else does. I don’t know and then a song comes out. The more I learn, the worse the music becomes. I believe in what I do and that’s all that matters. If you’re not genuine about what you’re doing people can see that. I think most bands are trying to do that, just performing to the mirrors in their bedrooms. I feel like a lot of bands operate like that. They have the look down, they have the move, the way they hold the guitar, but that’s it.

Everyone knows the life of most DIY musicians is far from lucrative. Taking downloads, concert attendance, and press into consideration, would you say the Internet has hurt or helped you?

People don’t buy CDs anymore and it’s OK, but even DIY you’re going to reach the same kids you were reaching beforehand. There’s no right or wrong way. Obviously I’m not going to license a song to Hummer or an anti-abortion campaign. I’m not turning onto a Starbucks label. FUCK THAT. We’re playing the game, maintaining our integrity, but if we wanted to be outside of the system no one would hear about us.

Favorite piece of equipment, normal and otherwise?

Probably my iPod shuffle. I don’t even really listen to music anymore. Too busy trying to figure out my own songs and their order.

Which part of the country seems most receptive to the band?

I don’t know. I kind of feel like.... Holy shit! There’s an opossum!


A possum! I just saw a possum! You guys have possums?

In Florida? Yeah, we do.

Well one just ran past me and under a dumpster. Crazy possums!

Ever had a 10 lb moustache?

No. 5 pounds.

What do you think about the state of music today? People say it’s easier than ever to start a band, but in some ways it’s much harder than ever to maintain one.

There’s no formula. Word of mouth is the best PR we can ever have. If you don’t have the goods then you’re not going to be around. It’s a give and take. We give what we receive from an audience. If they’re standing with their arms crossed, it’s kind of hard. Hold on. I have to show this girl this possum. That’s amazing. Anyway, we don’t ever want it to be a non-genuine freak out.

Is the costume part of the genuine freak out?

I feel like I’m jumping out of a burning building every day. I think it works. The war paint gets me in the right state of mind.

How do you go about arranging things? You mentioned a stunted recording process.

We’re still arranging. Played our first hometown show in six months with Deerhunter. It was awesome. Played kind of industrial ballroom. All ages. We played a corndog eating festival with them before. It was weird. Good corndogs, though.

What do you think is the biggest misconception your fans have?

It’s all one big media blitz. Kids see you in a blog or magazine and think you’re immediately successful. It’s not like that at all.

What’s in your six-demon bag? Wind, fire, all that kind of thing?

When that scene came on, my thought was “exactly.” It’s about facing your fear and your potential demise. The six-demon bag was supposed to give you the strength to overcome it.

Can a band survive on records?

It boggles my mind that people still make music with instruments. Unless you’re independently wealthy or a masochist you’re not going to make money off selling records. Bands survive now from playing. I’ve said it a billion times. We’re going to earn our audience. Can’t buy your virtual friends like on MySpace. The proof is in the pudding.

Have you done Europe?

Once, but we can’t get our records overseas. We went there for two weeks. There’s a great YouTube clip where we played VHBB on Live Dutch TV. We rolled into what we thought would be another dive and it turned out to be Live Dutch TV.

How often are you forced to wash all those white shirts? Do you hit up random Laundromats in the middle of the night while on tour?

Very rarely. You can really see the wear and tear on the road. We wash them maybe once or twice a tour. There’s blood on our shirts.

How do you cut yourself on a Rhodes piano?

The keys are broken, I have to file them down. I put nails on the keys when they fly off.

How would you describe your shows?

Our shows are like reverse exorcism. We put the demon back in.

Where did “Man Man” come from?

It’s ridiculous. Like when we do a band photo. All these notions are ridiculous. It’s hard. You got to find a name. Once you know what the music is about then the band name becomes synonymous. Take Pavement for example. Terrible band name, but once I loved the band the name was perfect.

And the new album is poppier?

Oh, yeah?

Is that because you’re happier or because you’re catering to that middle section of the US listening to Linkin Park?

Neither. If it ever becomes like that put me down. Just put me down.

By: Rahawa Haile
Published on: 2007-09-04
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