Since the 2012 release of their critically acclaimed third studio album and Epitaph Records debut, On The Impossible Past, Pennsylvania punk band The Menzingers have toured relentlessly. Killyourstereo.com caught up with guitarist/vocalist Tom May prior to their recent Australian tour alongside Pennywise and Face To Face to discuss how things have changed in the last year, as well as the band’s plans for the future.
So you’ll be back in Australia really soon for the Pennywise tour. How are you guys feeling about it?
We’re really excited. We went there last year for the first time and we had so much fun, and we can’t wait to go back.
How did that tour actually come about?
Basically they were looking for a support band to come and we had worked with Soundwave before, and they had us on a list of potential people to come and they liked our music, so we were on our way.
Were Pennywise an influential band for you?
They were. They were one of the one of the first punk bands we started getting into when we were younger. I mean, I must have heard the song Bro Hymn, y’know, a thousand times.
So you were here last year for Soundwave. What was that experience like?
It was something that we’d never experienced before, that’s for sure. You know, to be with all those giant bands and part of such a large production was something that we were not used to. But it was really cool because we had a lot of time to meet people outside of Soundwave and hang out in other parts of Australia that we really wanted to see. So the whole experience was a very positive one.
This will be a pretty different experience I imagine…
Oh yeah, this one I think is going to be a welcome change of pace. It’s something that we’re more used to, you know, club shows and not falling into the mix of so many people. We’ll get to know the bands that we’re playing with and have more time in the actual cities to hang out too.
Do you have any preference between club shows or festivals?
I prefer club shows for sure. I mean, festivals definitely have their place and they’re so much fun. There are so many festivals we’ve done where there’s so many bands and it’s always like a big reunion of people from all over the country and world that you don’t get to see in one place, so it’s always a really good time. But it can get really tiring fast, for sure.
You mentioned that you’ll have a bit more time to hang out this time. What do you want to do while you’re over here?
I want to go to the beach for sure, and we made a lot of friends scattered around Australia that I would like to spend a lot of time with – some people that we’ve known for a while, but mostly people that we met last time, and have since come over to the States and stuff. It’s going to be a big reunion, it’ll be great.
It’s been roughly a year since you released On The Impossible Past, which was really well received. Have things changed much for you guys in the last year?
Yeah, things have changed a lot. I mean, a lot more people come out to see us. All of last year, we toured more than we ever did before. We spent most of the year on the road. Things have just changed in the sense that… I don’t really know how to describe it… more people come to see us and we take things a little bit more seriously – I mean, not too seriously, for sure, I can definitely say that, but it’s been a positive change. It’s been an interesting change.
And was it a big step from Red Scare to Epitaph?
It was. Toby’s still one of my best friends and we still hang out with him all the time, but yeah, making the jump from Red Scare to Epitaph was a big step. It was the label that we’d been listening to the bands off since before we started playing music, so to have it come full circle like that is pretty crazy.
Are you guys writing any new material these days?
Yeah, we’ve been home writing right now actually, we just demoed five songs today, so we’re trying to get it done before we come over.
Oh cool. And are you constantly writing or is it more that you start writing when it’s time for a new record?
Greg and I will constantly be writing and sometimes we’ll jam on some things, but more recently when it comes down to writing, we set time aside and it’s all at once, that’s what we’re focusing on. But we always have guitars in our hands and it feels good to write so we’re constantly writing.
So I was just wondering… is that you on the Glocca Morra record cover?
(laughs) It is definitely me on the Glocca Morra record cover. That was New Year’s Eve a few years back and I’d been running around all night and finally made it to that party right before midnight. And the guy with the tuxedo on is one of my good friends Andy Clark, he plays in a band called Luther, and I actually live with one of those guys. They’re over in Europe right now. But yeah (laughs), that’s me on the cover. That’s really funny.
How did that come about?
Yeah, I couldn’t tell you, I really have no idea. I just kind of found out that they’d picked that cover. We’re really good buddies with those guys and they were at that party also, and they must have come across the picture somewhere and decided to use it.
So they’re from Pennsylvania too. You guys seem to have a good relationship with a lot of bands from that area, like Tigers Jaw and Title Fight and stuff.
Oh yeah, oh yeah. Well Scranton, which is where we’re from, which is about two hours north of Philadelphia, there are so many bands there. And it’s not a very big place, it just happened that all of the bands that we all started when we were in high school just seemed to take off a bit. Tigers Jaw, well they just broke up, but their remnants are coming with us to the UK.
Who are some other bands you like from the area that maybe we don’t know about?
Captain, We’re Sinking are a great band, they’re gonna come out on tour with us in the US at the beginning of the summer. But yeah, they’re a great band from there. From Philadelphia, there are so many bands – you’ve got Glocca Morra, there’s a band called Restorations who are good friends of ours that are an incredible band. Yeah, there are so many bands coming out of Pennsylvania, it’s really fantastic. Even that band Luther, I love their newest record and they’re really good friends. It’s really great being there, every time you go to a show it’s just all your friends, it’s awesome.
So at this point, what are you still hoping to achieve with the band?
That’s a good question. I really like what we’re doing right now, I guess if we could do it on a larger scale, that would be I guess what we’re trying to achieve. That’s a funny question to think of in a band, because there’s always a way to get more popular to where you go, "Oh, no, this is okay, I’m happy with this right now." It’s a weird kind of thing. Some things I want to achieve, I want to go to Russia with the band. We just basically want to go more places and see more of the world.
Other than touring, do you know what’s in store for the rest of the year for you guys?
Recording, we’re going to record at some point, probably during the fall. But yeah, that’s exciting, and then after that, who knows?