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Fun Fun Fun Fest interview: The Men

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Andy O’Connor

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 16, 2013

Brooklyn punk troubadours the Men never sound the same from record to record, and while that might spell “inconsistency” for a lesser band, these dudes have songwriting chops that are suited to the band’s changing of whims.

They were more feral on their first two releases, 2010’s “Immaculada”and 2011’s “Leave Home,”but beginning with 2012’sOpen Your Heart,” they began to embrace country, Springsteen, the Replacements, and a whole host of less noisy influences. Not surprisingly, that’s when people really started to pay attention to the Men.

“New Moon,” released earlier this year on Sacred Bones Records, continues down that path. The first half of the record especially sounds like they’ve been spending time in Austin frequently. It’s amazing to see a band redefine themselves so much in such fleeting time. They’ve survived South by Southwest, they made it out of Chaos in Tejas alive, but will they meet their match with Fun Fun Fun Fest?

Bassist and vocalist Ben Greenberg gave us insight into “Moon’s” direction and playing Austin. (The Men play at 2:40 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10, on the Black Stage at Fun Fun Fun Fest

Was it intentional to make ‘New Moon’ a more accessible record, especially considering that ‘Open Your Heart’ was a great deal more accessible than ‘Leave Home’?

We really don’t think about it that way at all. We focus on the songs, making sure the arrangement, performance and production of each individual song suits that song’s spirit. Sometimes everything comes together and sometimes it doesn’t, ya just gotta roll with what you can get down on tape at the time given your mood/the amount of sleep you’re on/the amount of drugs you’re on.

What was the worst thing you smelled at Chaos in Tejas?

Myself, the morning we left.

Related to Chaos in Tejas: someone made a VHS of your Cheer Up Charlie’s performance. What do you make of this? Are VHSes poised to make a cassette-esque comeback? Will your next single be flexi-only?

Dude I’m STOKED on that VHS. I grew up finding tapes just like that at record stores and shows and that was always one of my favorite ways to experience bands I liked. Still got some sick Jesus Lizard boots from a few Texas shows.

When you wake up and hear the radio play, do you ever want it to be you?

I was out eating dinner with my girlfriend the other night at a bar/restaurant and “Turn It Around” came on, and it felt like it wasn’t me. Pretty pleasantly surreal.

‘The Men’ is surprisingly easy to Google. Who is your favorite not-Google-friendly band?

Hubble, of course.

The Men have this ability to devour a wide array of influences and spit out something totally fresh. So, what’s the next record gonna sound like?

Fresher than if the skies opened up and the rain smelled like Wintermint.