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You’ve been on a pretty tight schedule now with five full-lengths in five years and just two days in the studio for this new one. Do you ever think about what would happen if you allowed yourself more time?
MP: I think with all those early records there was a sense of immediacy. We’d record very close to live; we didn’t do many takes. We had to get the songs and ideas out while they were fresh. I think recently, though, we have given songs a little more chance to breathe and to let them go a little further than the immediate idea.
But at the same time I don’t wish... well, I don’t want to say that. Sometimes I do wish... when you listen back on something and think, “I wonder what would’ve happened with one more take of that.” But that was our approach, and I think there’s something to be said for that immediacy. You get certain things out of it that you’d otherwise lose. Maybe you’d pick up something else, but you’d lose something at the same time. It’s been an evolving process for us, but the idea of time and space is something that we’re thinking a lot more about now and approaching songs with it mind.
NC: It’s a cool breather for us to tour with this album and not be too far ahead of ourselves, too. Usually on the road we end up playing all of this new stuff live that no one’s heard before. But at this point everyone’s heard everything we have. So we’re trying to rearrange things differently and play some older songs, to make it fresh.
Typically your live sets have a raw punk energy. Now that more and more of your recorded material is steering away from that aggression and becoming, well, less punk…
NC: Yeah, you can say that. [Laughs] That’s not an insult.
Do you think you’ll make room in the set for some of the more relaxed material?
NC: I think it’s in our nature as a band to amp things up, whether or not we necessarily want to. I think our live motto, unofficially, has been just to bring it. It’s a great motto, but it would also be great [to incorporate other components]. With that said, we’ve really been trying to focus on space and giving some songs—even older songs—a balance between aggression and having a little room to breathe.
It’s just hard to execute on tour. I would love to bring more acoustic instruments, but there’s only a certain amount of room in the van. If we want to have a horn section, we have to hire these people, and that’s two more seats in the car.
MP: We’re a small operation. You just can’t do some of the things you want to when you have to pack an entire situation in a small space. In the studio and our home, where we have the ability to spread out, we’ve gone pretty far into our ideas. Trying to take it out on the road is an evolving thing for us, though. We’re trying. We’re tying to grow all the time and add different elements.
If you guys weren’t in a band, what do you think you’d be doing right now?
MP: I don’t know. Probably have some shitty job somewhere. Probably have to dress better.
NC: We’d go to nicer restaurants. Our hair would be shorter.
The Men play Bowery Ballroom on March 5 with Ukiah Drag and Honey. Grab tickets here.
Photographs taken at Glorietta Baldy, 502 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238Follow Lauren Beck on Twitter @heylaurenbeck.