WITH THEIR FIFTH ALBUM IN SIGHT, THE PENNSYLVANIA PUNKS COULDN’T BE MORE READY TO START WRITING NEW SONGS.
WORDS: JESSICA BRIDGEMAN.
The Menzginers have toured relentlessly since the release of 2014’s Rented World. Sixteen months on, guitarist and vocalist Tom May says is very much moving his mind to the next album. “Like we should write some new songs, that’s how I feel,” he laughs. “It’s always fun to play [Rented World] and we give everything we can to do it, but it would definitely be nice to have some new songs to play live and we’re writing right now so we’ll see what happens.”
“Writing on the road comes in bursts for sure,” he explains, as the Pennsylvania quartet prepare to bring their European run across to the UK. “It’s a little more difficult [on this tour] because we didn’t bring our acoustic guitars and that’s how we write.
“And you don’t want to spend a lot of time sitting down and writing songs when you’re in Munich, I want to see Munich. So when we’re in the States and playing the same places over and over again, it’s easier to write.”
It’s at home in America’s sixth-largest city though that Tom says the band still work best: ‘when we’re at home and we have sectioned off time’.
Their writing habits aren’t the only thing that’s remained consistent in The Menzingers’ nine-year recording history. It’s their underlying DIY ethos that’s often kept them afloat in the punk scene.
“We’re unique in the sense that it’s still just the four of us,” Tom believes. “We were friends when we were younger and we’ve just stayed that way, continued to play music and it’s just been the four of us hanging out and doing everything with our friends.” Adding without hesitation, “If we don’t like something, we don’t do it. If we do like something we do it, sometimes to excess.”
“We came up with that [DIY] scene and that’s how we started. The way that we first toured the UK was by sending out a tweet and asking if anybody could drive us.”
Fast-forward to 2015 and the band are returning to the UK to play Reading and Leeds Festival, alongside a support slot at O2 Academy Brixton with The Offspring and a one-off headline date in Cardiff.
“Oh my god there’s going to be so many American bands. We’ve all been joking about how it’s just going to be one giant party,” he says, name-dropping genre pals like The Gaslight Anthem and The Smith Street Band as must-see sets. “It’s always really fun to meet up with you friends from home so far away in such a unique environment because it just brings out the energy in everybody and it makes it nostalgic before it’s even over.”
“You get so self-centered in the United States thinking that you’re the centre of the universe and then you go to Europe and realise people have been doing things for so long that really you’re just a flash in the pan. It’s great,” Tom admits, acknowledging more about the changing scenes surrounding The Menzingers as they continue to tour. “Rock music is not going to die, but it definitely doesn’t have the same cultural gravity that it used to.”
“In America, what’s really big is EDM. Rock music is not as popular as it was a couple of years ago and in Europe it seems to still be going pretty strong. I really like the European music scene, people tend to not pigeonhole themselves the same way that people do in the Unites States.”
There’s a sense of excitement you can hear in Tom’s voice as he embraces his current setting, “The UK is a lot like the United States in the music sense, but in Europe people listen to whatever they like and they don’t care, and they don’t really label themselves and do those things that we do.”
What’s really refreshing though, is to hear the musician talk about the new influences he’s absorbing ahead of The Menzingers’ fifth full-length. “Few things in the world feel as good or as addictive as when you first find a sound or hear something that you haven’t heard before and it just catches you and holds you.” he notes. “It’s so good; that’s the dragon we’ve been chasing the whole time.”
Whatever’s next for The Menzingers will no doubt be whatever they feel like doing.