I was quite excited to get the chance to ask Nick From the NYC band The Men about their new album ‘Open Your Heart’ and among other things, a great gig poster featuring John Lennon.
CB: Your first record ‘Leave Home’ really was a wide soundscape of everything from Kraut Rock to Shoegaze to right on through to Sludge Metal. Can you give us a bit of a preview of what ‘Open Your Heart’ is going to sound like?
NC: The new record sounds good! Ben was able to capture our sound really well in the studio. Some songs have layered guitars parts and some harmonies that we haven’t done on previous albums, but it maintains the rawness that we try to lay down to tape. It’s got some drone, some country and some catchiness to it, but at its most fundamental level it is a rock and roll record.
CB: You guys have four songwriters in the band, how does this arrangement work? There must be tons of tracks to decide what goes on the record.
NC: We usually come up with a basic idea for a song independently and then come together either at practice or at someone’s house and work on it. We play the song a lot, demo it and see what sticks. If you’re not playing the song when you go home or thinking about it, it usually means the song will fall by the wayside. The good ones come easy. I think we cut about six or seven songs from the record, a few of which are going to be released in the next few months.
CB: Can you tell me about the inspiration behind the track ‘Bataillle’? I have always been curious.
NC: Musically the song came from listening to the Wipers. Greg Sage’s guitar playing is so simple and tasteful without being too flashy (you know he can really rip if he needs to though). I wrote the song on acoustic guitar. The lyrics were inspired by Bataille’s “Story of the Eye” a short book that Mark had read and passed over to me. I was taken by the portion of the story where the boy rescues the girl from the institution. He looks up in the night sky and feels something: part mystery and part knowing that everything might be as it seems.
CB: I read that you were described in one periodical as Thurston Moore mets the East Street Band.Were you a little perplexed by this?
NC: Ha, we laughed a lot about that description. I like it.
CB: With all you guys writing, how do you guys decide the set lists for gigs?
NC: On our last tour of Europe we played the same set at every show, which is a relatively new concept for us. I’m not sure we will always do it, but we liked the repetition. Like repetitious sound you can find a rhythm all its own within the set and it is actually different each night although you are playing the same material. It didn’t get boring.
CB: You seem to avoid the blog world and kind of really just focus deeply on the music, is this something you made a conscious decision from the onset?
NC: I don’t think so. The only decision we made was to write songs and play a lot with each other. That’s how the good ideas surface: play a lot, either by yourself or with other people. The internet is just a way to tell people we have music to present.
CB: With so many interesting musical influences, is there anyone you would really like to play live with or hit the studio together?
NC: Oh, we’d play with almost anybody if they wanted to; it keeps things fresh when you introduce someone new to the ensemble. I’d like to incorporate some spoken word maybe on our next record, possibly
ask John Giorno to read something. Who knows though…
CB: Can you tell me about the design of the John Lennon gig poster? Pretty interesting.
NC: Our friend, Ryan from the awesome band Nude Beach designed the flyer for a show we did together in November of last year. I told him you liked it. He says, “Wassup”.
CB:What five records would you take with you?
NC: Psychedelic Sounds of The13th Floor Elevators Short But Brilliant Life of Jimmie Rodgers Youth of America (wipers) The Black Record (la monte young) Bob Dylan and The Band