On 2011′s Leave Home, The Men unleashed a sprawling, overwhelming, brute-force basher of a rock ‘n’ roll record on a mostly-unsuspecting public, leaving a bunch of exhausted, gape-mouthed listeners in its wake In following up such a galvanic-if-difficult release, the Brooklyn foursome presents Open Your Heart, a more accessible and delightfully mixed bag that touches on hardcore, Buzzcockian power pop, classic country drinking songs, straight-ahead rock and propulsive, building jams the likes of which would make Thurston Moore proud. It’s an incendiary, rewarding album that promises to grow even richer with time.
eMusic’s Austin L. Ray traded emails with guitarist/vocalist Mark Perro about the Men’s thrilling evolution while the band was busy touring inEurope.
On “Turn it Around,” the raucous track that kicks off Open Your Heart:
Big Star was [an] influence. Mostly, though, I’m interested in simplicity – just taking one riff and riding it out. I think that was really the biggest inspiration for that song.
On the band’s prolific back catalogue:
Our demo was literally a dozen hand-dubbed cassettes or so, but after that, we did a few tapes – two as the Men, two as Dream Police, and one other one as Ascensions. One 7″, four LPs (including Open Your Heart), so it’s not ridiculous. I think there’s a bunch of bands that just put out release after release after release, and I think that’s crazy. There’s gotta be some quality control. There are no the Men releases that I wish did not exist at all, but there are definitely songs we never released, and there’s a reason for that.
On Chris Hansell’s departure:
That’s a personal question that I don’t really want to get into here. All I’ll say is that it will obviously affect the future of the band. He was a huge part of it, and brought a lot to our sound. So, going forward, we can’t expect to be the same band we were.
On he and his bandmates’ concerns with all turning 30 this year:
On “Country Song,” which, perhaps unsurprisingly, sounds kind of like a country song:
Yeah, we love country music. Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Marty Robbins. I love to talk about it. It’s something I recently kind of really got into as we were making this album. Nick [Chiericozzi, guitarist/vocalist] really opened that door for me. He knows quite a bit about it and has been into it for a long time. I don’t see us becoming a country band or anything, that’s not gonna happen. But I think it definitely has permeated who we are as musicians and as a band.
On “punk” and its relationship to The Men:
I don’t know. I don’t really think about that – whether we’re punk or not punk or what it means to be a punk and what makes you not a punk. All I know is that every morning I wake up, put on the same pair of pants, eat the same breakfast, do the same things. I just worry about doing my thing, and wherever that falls, it falls.
On the increasing buzz surrounding The Men:
No pressure – still can’t pay the rent.