Former Voice cover kids and 4Knots Festival performers the Men are back with yet another album, Tomorrow’s Hits, which came out yesterday and is a massive sounding piece the band recorded even before their two most recent releases, last year’s New Moon and Campfire Songs, were available for fans. With amped-up production and the addition of a wonderful horns section, they are happy to live in the moment rather than tomorrow.
Singer and guitarist Mark Perro chatted with us over the phone in time for the Men’s Bowery Ballroom concert about the new album, their down time, and why they’ve always been fearless when approaching a poppier sound. They play Bowery Ballroom tonight — tickets are still available.
When was the last break you’ve all had? It seems like you’ve been going and going since before New Moon had been released.
Yeah! I mean right now, kind of. New Moon came out and we toured a bunch. Pretty much up until the shows coming up next week, the last show we played was in November. We started rehearsing again in February, but November, December, January we took off and did nothing band-related whatsoever, which I guess is not too much of a break given that that we’ve been going without a break since 2010. It ended up being pretty significant, even just having three months. It had a very positive, refreshing effect.
Let’s talk about the timeline of Tomorrow’s Hits, New Moon, and Campfire Songs. The latest Tomorrow’s Hits was recorded before the other two came out, correct?
Yeah it was recorded before New Moon came out but we recorded New Moon before we recorded Tomorrow’s Hits. Basically, “Open Your Heart” came out in March of 2012 and we were on tour for about two months straight. We had a three week break after that. Ben had just joined the band and Kevin had just started playing with us. We were excited to work on some new material, and so we had this three week gap and we decided to rent a house. That’s where we wrote and recorded New Moon. Then we just went right back on tour as soon as that was over. We recorded Campfire Songs at the same exact time as New Moon, by the way. That was all created in that three-week span.
So we went on tour through the summer and the fall and in October, we kind of ended that touring then we came home and we were rehearsing for a few months. Since we weren’t playing shows, it was rehearsing, rehearsing, writing, rehearsing. Then in December of 2012 is when we recorded the new album. So we actually recorded both in the same year, but New Moon jut came out in March of 2013. Tomorrow’s Hits is finally seeing the light now.
What did it feel like to go back to a collection of songs you had written and recorded so long ago and perform and release them now?
At first it was a little odd since it’s over a year ago at this point. At the same time, we’ve always been a band that when we tour we’ve always had a record to support. For whatever reason, we’ve always had a record done whenever we’ve been on tour for another record. It’s a weird experience with a crowd that wants to hear certain things and you’re excited to play other things. So we kind of had a realization. We put Tomorrow’s Hits to bed for a while. It’s actually pretty fresh and exciting for us now because we actually haven’t played these songs all that much. Now that we’re coming to it, it’s exciting to finally be able to do this stuff that we’ve been sitting on for so long and just go out there and do it. Everyone will be familiar to it and hopefully be able to connect to it in someway. I think it’ll be alright!
Was it Tomorrow’s Hits or New Moon then that solidified the shift towards a more Americana sound?
It wasn’t really a conscious decision. For New Moon, we had new bandmates, Ben and Kevin, who were involved. Ben engineered “Open Your Heart” and Kevin added a contribution to both of the albums. It wasn’t really a conscious decision. I think it was kind of steering that way, maybe. It just blossomed a little bit more. It’s just a subconscious thing. We don’t really ever talk about like “hey let’s go in this direction” or “let’s try this” or “let’s try that.” The idea is presented, our song is presented, and we just try to shape it the best we can. We let the song dictate its own course rather than trying to put a certain sound on it or a certain whatever onto it. We let it take its own shape.
What inspired the name of the new album?
We actually came up with that title when we were doing New Moon. It was just something we liked. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek, obviously. It’s a little hokey but in my mind it’s a very poppy album and kind of playing to that.
It’s also kind of a throwback to the sixties and bands like the Rolling Stones and stuff like that. During that time, bands would tend to title their records like that and it’s a little bit of an homage to that. We just all really liked the way it sounds so it just kind of worked! It stuck around.
The Men has really never been afraid of leaning towards the poppier sound. What are your thoughts on moving that direction and away from being just another noise band from Brooklyn?
It’s a weird thing, especially coming form where we come from. It’s such a loud place. It’s such a punk place. There’s rules and regulations and certain things that are just not accepted. Some of the things we’ve done fit into this. We have to be honest with ourselves though. We have to be real with the songs that are coming out of us. The emotions that are coming out, the songs that are coming out: who are we to block that because it doesn’t fit into that idea of what’s acceptable and cool. We try to just be as open and real as possible and sometimes that comes out in ways that makes you a little uncomfortable.That’s okay! I’d rather be uncomfortable than flaccid and doing something over and over. I’d rather put myself out there a little bit more and get some sort of real reaction.
The Men play Bowery Ballroom tonight, 3/5, at 9:00 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance and $14 day of show.