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The Menzingers have spent the past 10 years winning over the hearts of punks worldwide, with their brand of anthemic everyman rock and roll.
Currently parading across Australian shores in celebration of their fifth album, entitled After The Party, a record that dissects the death of our 20s, and the beginning of the descent into our 30s, where most of us are made to feel like it’s time to settle down, start families, buy houses and think about our office careers. We caught up with Co-Singer/Guitarists Greg Barnett and Tom May in the sweltering store room of Melbourne punk rock institution, Poison City Records after a packed and sweat-drenched acoustic in-store, where they reassured us that The Menzingers’ party is still raging, and a long way from dying out.
“There are a lot of self-realisations that you have over all these years where you’re always questioning where you’re going, and if you’re making the right moves and surrounding yourself with the right people. I guess the answer is yeah, we are!” Barnett declares. “You shouldn’t be so afraid of numbers and deadlines and just enjoy your life. I don’t think I’m going to make any drastic change other than just trying to have more fun”, May adding “I don’t see any great push to revolutionise of fix what we’re doing, because what we’re doing is working. It’s been fun and still seems like a positive thing.”
Prior to our chat, we we’re lucky to witness the two play through troubadour-style acoustic interpretations of songs spanning the bands career catalogue. Fittingly surrounded by walls and racks of skateboards, records, tour posters and band shirts, Barnett and May recreated their songs with an energy and passion almost as prominent as if they’d been backed by their rhythm section, bassist Eric Keen and drummer Joe Godino; a true indication of their craftsmanship as songsmiths.
I think that to worry, often at times is just praying for something bad to happen
[ Tom May ]
The sing-alongs of a room full of adoring fans who braved the heat to show their loyalty and admiration were proof enough that The Menzingers’ decade long existence has seen them build a die-hard following of believers all over the world. Given the bands 10 year milestone, we ask Barnett and May to think about if things had been different in 2007, and if The Menzingers failed to exist, where they think there would be now. “Sometimes you think about that sort of thing on a long plane or van ride. Like, what would I be doing right now?” May contemplates as Barnett interjects, “I think even if this band didn’t start, I feel like I would still be trying to do something with music. It’s the only thing I’ve ever found real joy and passion in. It’s hard to see me doing anything else”.
The songs that form the narrative of After The Party’s overall story is also testament to a band who have grown up and come of age alongside their rabid fan base. The Menzingers’ charmingly relatable lyrics have found themselves scribbled on the notebooks, replicated in love letters and immortalised on the skin of many punk rockers who have fallen head over heels for them. Barnett admits that despite his songs’ personal nature, he understands that the problems he and May croon over are now bigger than just the band’s own. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily a worry, and without sounding pompous, you start to realise that the band and the songs are a lot bigger than the personal experiences of the four us. You realise that it affects the people who come up to us and tell us that our songs help them get through things. So you kind of want to write songs that are bigger than your own personal story” he says with sincerest gratitude, but continues on the importance of not being swallowed by it.
“With that, you kind of always need to remember to do what you do best, and that’s just being yourself. So you try not to get too wrapped up in that. We’ve built a really cool thing and we all want to represent it as best as possible, and continue to make that grow, so it’s definitely important to maintain what we’ve been doing and continue with that.”
“I think that to worry, often at times is just praying for something bad to happen” May says, offering a positive outlook on The Menzinger’s future, and keeping the spark alive. “If you didn’t acknowledge that fact that if everyone hates the next batch of songs you write, it would be, y’know, a difficult thing to do. But I think that a theme of the record is to alleviate a lot of that worry and uncertainty and realise that it’s okay to be uncertain. People have liked what we’ve been doing so far, and probably will continue to accept it”. When asked what will keep The Menzingers going for another five records, May concludes with philosophic wisdom, “I dunno, ‘cause what else would I do?”
After The Party is available now the Epitaph Records.