After their amazing set on the Monster Energy Stage at Groezrock Festival, we sat down with Tom May from Philadelphia punks The Menzingers for a chat about festivals, touring the UK and who would be cast in The Menzingers Movie…
How’re you doing, man, are you well?
Very good thank you! Yourself?
Great, thanks! We’re here at Groezrock, how’s your day been so far?
Fantastic! I ran into so many friends that I haven’t seen in a long time. That’s my favourite thing about festivals, but sometimes you don’t recognise people right away because it’s out of context, but yeah, today has been fantastic so far!
I noticed there were a lot of other bands at the side of the stage for your set, notably Chris #2 from Anti-Flag having the time of his life…
Hell yeah! There were guys from Choking Victim, Bouncing Souls, Anti Flag. I didn’t look while we were playing because I knew it would psych me out and I’d get a little fucked up.
When you come to festivals like this do you get chance to get out there and take it in, and soak up everything that’s going on?
Yeah, because you play a shorter set and there isn’t as much preparation, so there’s a whole lot of down time to walk around and check things out, check other bands out. It’s great.
How do you go about planning a set for a festival when you’ve only just released a new album, like you guys have? Obviously people want to hear the hits, but you’re very much in new album promo mode…
Well, we always just wing it. You have a shortened set. You’re not necessarily trying to win over fans that don’t know you because most people who are watching you already know you, it’s more about becoming part of the festival. That’s what I really like about festivals is that they’re like a curated beast of their own. You come in and say you’re going to play the hits, but we judge the hits by crowd response at other shows. In the end, there’s not really a big formula to it, you just wing it.
I suppose at genre-specific festivals such as this one it must be easier. if you turned up today and played the new album in full, people would probably have just as good of a time as they would during a hits set…
Maybe. You’d hope so, but I doubt it
Speaking of your new album, After The Party, are you happy with how everything has been since it came out?
It’s great. To compare it to the other records, it was bigger quicker than the others. People are really excited about, we’re more excited about it than we have been about a record in forever and people seem to be receiving it really well. It’s crazy, all of the shows that we play in the States and here have gotten bigger really quickly and people seem to be really passionate in their response. It’s cool!
Do you pay too much attention to reviews and press coverage, or it is all on response from fans?
No, I don’t. We do have to pay some attention, but I think it’s kind of on the way out. I don’t think people care about reviews as much as they used to because ‘the gatekeepers’ for records are gone. You used to find out about a record because you read a magazine that you like and there was a favourable review in there, whereas now people find out from their friends posting it on Facebook. I think the idea of the record review is kind of dying and I think it will be dead for a while. We do pay attention a little bit, especially if it’s bad.
You’ve just been in the UK, how was that?
Fucking awesome! It reminds me of home in a weird way. It’s not really weird because the language and the culture is very similar, but there are so many parts of England that are so wonderful and nostalgic for me. It was the first place that we toured, we have so many close friends there, it’s a great place. And the shows were incredible!
You played a show in Derby on that tour. How important do you think it is for bands like yourselves to get out there and play the more regional shows where not as many other bands come through?
It’s very important! We’re from Scranton, which is not a big place. Greg and I were looking up the metropolitan area in the Scranton area which is around 500,000 people. It’s massive, but compared to the rest of the United States it’s really not very big. I came from a medium sized town and not many bands go there so it’s important for us to go to places like that in other countries and other States because it’s where we came from and what we can relate to.
It’s great that bands have that outlook, since One For The Road is based in York, we’re just 20 miles down the road from Leeds so we don’t get as many ‘big bands’ coming through…
That to me, being from America, is hilarious. 20 miles is something I’d ride on my bicycle. It’s funny because you have a different accent! You could pinpoint someone’s accent or dialect from just 20 miles away, but to me, 20 miles is nothing. People own 20 miles of land back home.
You guys are on tour a lot, playing a lot of shows and festivals around the world, from that you must get to see a lot of underground bands that we might not know about. Who should we be checking out?
We did see a lot of bands on the underground. A lot of bands would open for us, but now we mainly do tours which are curated with two supports that are with us the entire time so we don’t get to see as many openers from that area. The Dirty Nil that we just toured with are an incredible band, and we recently toured with Rozwell Kid who have record coming out. You should definitely check that out. There have been times where we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the people who have opened up. There’s a more indie artist, her name is Julien Baker, when we played in Memphis her and some people played in a band who opened up for is. She had a really resonant way of singing, she used her entire head and entire chest and it really resonated just watching her sing! She’s going to write some songs and in a couple of years she’ll be killing it. Sometimes you run into something like that and it’s so wonderful.
Hollywood calls, they’re making ‘The Menzingers: The Movie’ and you’re in charge of casting. Who gets the call to play the band members?
If I was in charge of casting? Damn! Well, I’m going to pick Bradley Cooper to play myself. He doesn’t look anything like me but I love his acting. I’m going to pick Jimmy Fallon to play Joe, Samuel L Jackson to play Eric, and the guy from Brand New to play Greg. I don’t know if he can act!